Looking after ourselves and othersIt is becoming clear that we are living, working and worshipping in a very different context from that which we are used to. Aspects of this are probably going to last for many months. When the church in Thessalonika was facing challenging times, St Paul commended them for your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and afflictions you are enduring. In all our busyness it is important to take time listen to one another and to offer support and encouragement, especially to those who are ill, fearful or under pressure and we must remember to look after ourselves too!
There is some advice below and we encourage you to reflect on this. You can find more support from BBC, Heads together, Its OK to say, Mental Health Foundation, Mind, NHS, Supporting Good mental Health and Church of England MH Resources. You can also join the campaign to change attitudes at Time to Change.
Some advice from a professional
First of all, feeling anxious,depressed and fearful in this current situation is perfectly normal. We feel a loss of control in our lives, given the new challenges and isolation. This is particularly heightened for those who have loved ones or friends who are ill or have died and we have not been able to see them.
When we experience these emotions and worrying thoughts, it is important to acknowledge them, but not let them take over. Feel them, express them out loud and then consciously let them go by taking a deep in-breath, hold, then breathe out and consciously focus on something positive that distracts your mind. Some people find it useful to choose a certain time of day to worry about things, but please, not at bedtime. Similarly it is not a good idea to watch or listen to depressing news before going to bed.
We can all take personal control to a certain extent by working out what we can do for ourselves ( and others). Life has slowed down, but it is important to maintain self care, with a daily routine and schedule of varied activities, that includes some form of exercise that can be done sitting, standing or walking. There can be a sense of achievement and satisfaction in having a list for the day that may include mundane tasks, or things that are best done when you are fresh, depending on if you are a morning person or night owl. Make sure you include activities that give you enjoyment, be it reading, TV, radio, crafts or learning new things (Anyone handy at making face masks?). Importantly though, keep in contact with others.
Physical contact with other people is an innate human need and it is something we all miss, especially if you are isolating alone. However, laughter, singing and playing or listening to music releases the same happy hormones as touch, so do what you can. Similarly it is important to maintain contact with family, friends, other parishioners, neighbours, even strangers. Smiling and waving to someone from your window as they go by can instantly have a positive effect on you physically and emotionally, and them too.
Phone calls are especially important to those who are alone, but don't always wait for someone to call you. Put it on your list to have contact with someone each day. Make sure though that you stay in touch with those who help you and them to be positive. A sense of humour goes a long way. A call full of misery and woe is not beneficial, unless it can be acknowledged, but then move on! And don't forget the Thursday 8pm clap. All these things help to keep us connected and bring our community together.
Last of all, but not least is Nature. Many of us are blessed to have gardens and with the new, slowed pace of life and stillness from lack of traffic noise ( both on the ground and in the air) we can really be mindful of what is around us and how nature denotes the birth and continuation of life and the healing power that it has. Be still and watch how each day trees, bushes and flowers unfurl, and the lovely sounds of wildlife. Even if you do not have a garden, look out of your window and note what you can see. Look up to the sky and see how it changes. Maybe too, ask someone to bring you a bunch of flowers for enjoyment indoors. It is easy for people to say " stay positive" when the future is so uncertain, but we can help ourselves and others make the most of each day; routines, achievements, maintaining a sense of humour, contact with others, and being at one with nature.
Dr. Jacqueline Downs. Used by permission.
Need a chat/some practical help?The All Saints family would like to reach out to those who are isolated and could do with someone to talk to. We have a group of friends who would like to support all those who need it. If it would be helpful for you to have someone call you, or a friend, please email us or call Rev Jo on 01992 584899 and she will arrange for someone to get in touch.
Urgent help from NHS
CofE Guide to Supporting Good Mental Health
Further CofE Mental Health Resources
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