Give Yourself A Break!


As event after event was cancelled from my diary and I realised that I was going to have a lot more free time over the coming months, I began to make a list.

There were so many things I had always wanted to do if only I had the time.  Well, now I was going to have the time, and I planned to make the most of it.

Writing projects, a pile of books to read, plans to work on music, new skills I hoped to learn, films I wanted to watch… I had quite a list.

What I hadn’t anticipated was the exhaustion.

Work had become unexpectedly busy as we tried to figure out new ways of working and find the way forward, but still I was surprised by how tired I was and how deeply I was sleeping.  It seemed unnatural.

And as for all my plans for my free time – I struggled to focus on anything that involved thinking, and I couldn’t understand why.  It felt like I was wasting the time, and I wondered what was wrong with me.

But in the last few days I’ve begun to understand and I’ve decided to give myself a break.

I had come to realise that a big part of my problem was the number of Zoom calls.  I am so grateful for Zoom and the connection it allows, but at the same time, I find it utterly exhausting.  Then I discovered this article which explains why.   It was such a relief to know that it wasn’t just me and that there are reasons – please do check it out if you’re suffering from Zoom overload.

I also came to realise that for most of us right now, life has been turned upside down. 

There’s the obvious trauma for those who are suffering with the virus and those who have lost loved ones or are worried about friends or family who are seriously ill, but, even leaving aside the virus itself, the knock-on effect of the cancellations and lockdowns shouldn’t be underestimated.

There’s grief – for the cancelled plans, for the lost opportunities, for the things we can’t do and the people we can’t see.

There’s uncertainty over the future – how long the lockdown will last, what life will be like once it’s over.  For many there’s uncertainty over jobs or finances.

There’s fear over how it will turn out for us or for our friends and family.

For some, there’s the strain of being confined to the house with family so much of the time, or of attempting to do home schooling at the same time as working from home.

For others, there’s the loneliness of the lack of social contact, knowing that even when you see someone in the street you have to keep your distance, and that all the phone calls and video calls in the world can’t quite take the place of face-to-face conversation with another human being.

Why should we expect to be able to push on through without all this taking its toll?

I think it’s time to go easy on ourselves – to do what we can, but not to beat ourselves up if we can’t achieve all we want to right now.

I think it’s time to stop and acknowledge how we feel.  It’s easy to dismiss it saying there are those who have it a lot worse – and yes, for most of us there probably are, but it’s still ok to admit where we’re struggling rather than trying to put a brave face on it.

I think it’s time to move the focus away from what we do.  My initial temptation was to exchange one form of doing for another, but maybe it’s a time just to be.  As someone in my church pointed out, we’re a very active church, always keen to provide practical help and be involved in the community.  Maybe this is a time to rediscover dependence on God, and to spend more time praying, recognising that as we can’t do a lot of what we want to do right now, we need to hand our concerns over to him and trust him to be working where we can’t.

Above all it’s a time to look to God and put our hope in him.  During Lent I was following a plan reading through the book of Jeremiah and it seemed incredibly relevant to all that is going on right now.  It is full of predictions of death and destruction, but through it all there is a thread of hope.  God is the only one who can restore, but, ultimately, restoration is coming, and it’s a great reminder that it doesn’t depend on us!

“This is what the Lord says: You have said, “This is a desolate land where people and animals have all disappeared.”  Yet in the empty streets of Jerusalem, and Judah’s other towns, there will be heard once more the sounds of joy and laughter.  The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will be heard again, along with the joyous songs of people bringing thanksgiving offerings to the Lord.  
They will sing, 
“Give thanks to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
for the Lord is good.
HIs faithful love endures forever!”  (Jeremiah 33:10-11 NLT)


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40 thoughts on “Give Yourself A Break!

  1. Thanks for this post, Lesley. I’ve just learned that I have to be ‘shielding’ because of a pulmonary condition I have. No more going out the house! The thought of not being able to go out with my dogs is distressing. After reading your words, I’m trusting that God knows what to do with me over the following weeks. 🙏🙌

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll pray for you in this. The thought of not being able to go out of the house at all would be distressing to me too. Praying that you’ll know God with you helping you through this time and that you stay safe!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think this is spot-on, Lesley. I’ve heard (or read) so many people talking about not being able to concentrate, feeling lethargic, etc. It makes sense — so much has been disrupted, and there’s so much uncertainty.

    Our church just read through Jeremiah and then Ezekiel and experienced what you mentioned. God does allow hard times, but always holds out hope.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I appreciate this kind and hopeful message, Lesley. I’m finding myself swinging back and forth between wild productivity and questions about my focus. There’s always work for us to do, but I don’t want to miss out on all the relational lessons that will come to us in this strange time–if we are open to them.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, Leslie, all wonderful suggestions. Yes, let’s go easy on ourselves. Let’s not feel the need to accomplish endlessly. Let’s take the time to acknowledge our feelings of grief, lonliness, and isolation. Let’s be kind to ourselves and others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Bethany! I agree, my tendency is always to focus on what I can do. It is good to be reminded that it doesn’t all depend on us doing anything!


  5. Yours is the third reference to reading Jeremiah over these last few weeks…and how relevant it has been. Hmm – I think I might need to read some Jeremiah this week:) Hope you have a peace-filled week ahead!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, a lot of us seem to have been reading Jeremiah and it is amazing how much it speaks into our current situation. I’d recommend it! Hope you have a good week too!


  6. I really needed this, Lesley, especially the reminder to “do what we can, but not to beat ourselves up if we can’t achieve all we want to right now.” And to allow myself to “be.” So many people are talking about Zoom, but I was hesitating. After reading that article, I know I need not feel guilty about not doing it. I’m not on Facebook either as when I was, I just got depressed when people criticized others, etc. I’ve been wondering if I’m being too unsociable. It’s not that I don’t connect with people I care about, but I prefer a more personal one on one. And the roller-coaster of emotions with this Covid crisis, I need not feel guilty to place boundaries. So thank you so much, my friend, for encouraging me today to go easy on myself and be more concerned right now with acknowledging what I feel and quit putting a smiley face on. Love and blessings to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Trudy! I’m so glad this encouraged you and helped you to feel better about setting boundaries. It is important for each of us to find the ways of connecting that work best for us, especially the way things are right now, and to be able to acknowledge how we feel about it all. Praying that you find good ways of connecting that work for you. Love and blessings to you too!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Lesley, you’re so right. We need to be kind to ourselves. In the first couple weeks of quarantine, I was striving to accomplish. It didn’t take long before I realized I couldn’t do all that I normally do, and it was unrealistic to try. So, I’ve been working to put buffer into my days, and lots of grace. I am discovering the good and not-so-good times for certain activities in a day.

    One upside is that my boys now sleep two hours later in the mornings, which makes it easier for me to have my quiet time and my workout time before they get up. Then they can’t laugh at my attempts at CrossFit. 🙂

    But seriously, we do need to go easy on ourselves in this season of navigating things most of us never imagined before 2020.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing some of your experiences with all of this, Jeanne! It sounds like you’re figuring out a good routine for dealing with this time. But, yes, we all need lots of grace!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I resonate with this so much!!! I too have found myself just exhausted from doing seemingly simple tasks. You are right—learning how to function in this new reality takes a lot of energy, and this is not the time to be hard on ourselves or others.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m taking the week to photograph flowers in the desert, hike and bird in the great outdoors, and camp by myself (my husband has to work in his office, but I can get away with keeping up remotely). I just had a cow walk by my campsite and moo loudly–definitely a new experience for me! I’m catching up on sleep and recharging my batteries. I am blessed to have this opportunity.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Lesley, the exhaustion you describe is very similar to how I felt after my parents died last year, particularly in the fall when my girls went back to school and I was left facing my new normal, really for the first time. It was grief, and it was exhausting. I appreciate your thoughts about being kind to ourselves so much, especially the part about rediscovering our dependence on God. He may not be be making the virus go away overnight, but I feel certain He is on the move during this uncertain time, working on hearts and minds all over the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lois! Yes, I have heard lots of little stories of how God is at work, but I’m sure when we look back on this we will see even more of what he’s doing!


  11. Lesley, this post is such a beautiful invitation to show ourselves grace and kindness as we make our way through this difficult season.

    If we can’t do this for ourselves, it’ll be hard to show genuine compassion to those God will bring on to our paths.

    I leave here feeling rested and encouraged …

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This is so good, Lesley! I was also wondering why exhaustion was my constant companion as well as lack of focus. We are in an unknown world that looks unfamiliar. One of the things I have had to cope with is grief. There is a sense of loss over what used to be and the way life had been going. Thank you for your wise words.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Mary! Yes, I think there is a lot of grief for our sense of normal and some of the everyday things we probably used to take for granted. I’m sure I will appreciate those things much more when things begin to return to normal.


  13. I have not embraced the Zoom thing yet, although I’ve had many opportunities to do so. My mom told me about her Sunday school class Zoom call in which one of the ladies did not realize everyone could see her… LOL OH! MY! It’s a funny story.

    Anyway… this is a lovely time to take inventory of what’s really important,. At the same time, I think we’d better be resting up because this fall is going to be killer busy!!! So many are postponing events to the fall! I’m not sure how we are going to fit it all in. Fall of 2020 may be like 6 months of Mays and Decembers!!!

    Thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Although I find Zoom so tiring, I am grateful for it and the way it allows us to connect. It’s definitely been a steep learning curve for many of us – I’m very curious about what the lady in your mom’s Sunday school class did!
      We are definitely going to have to pace ourselves later in the year as I agree, with everything being rescheduled it has the potential to be a bit crazy!


  14. This is just what I need to hear, Lesley. I’m having such a hard time focusing. And I’m about zoomed out too. It does lift my spirits to see “my people” but sometimes it can be overload. Going now to read that article…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry you’re struggling with this too, Lisa, but at the same time it’s good to know that I’m not alone. I am so grateful for Zoom and how it allows us to connect, but sometimes it just makes me sad to see people on a screen and be reminded that I can’t see them face to face. I hope you find the article helpful.


  15. I think this is a time to give yourself grace and let yourself feel how you need to feel. I think we are trying to maintain the way life used to be and not really taking time to process the life we are living right now. Thanks for the great encouraging words.

    Liked by 1 person

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