Isolate physically but do not isolate mentally.
- Reach out mentally more than ever before.
- Tendency may be to back off, but reach out to others and say ‘I’m not doing well. I need help. Can you help me? Can I talk to you?’’
- Lockdown does not mean to shut down emotionally. Reach out emotionally.
- Our emotions can feel very dangerous (anxiety and fears) – Big scary feelings that match a big scary situation. We need to know that those emotions are not going to crush us.
- If you know you have vulnerabilities to alcohol, overeating, over exercising, starving yourself, OCD etc you have to find ways of channelling these fears. Especially right now when our usual ways of coping are not possible.
- If you lift the lid on a boiling pot and let some steam out it won’t boil over. Lifting the lid off is a bit like talking to other people. A way of diffusing some of the tension. If you keep it all sealed up it will bubble out and can cause a lot of danger for you.
Distance physically but reach out practically
- The Christian life means that we are designed to bear one another’s burdens. To carry and be carried. It is vital to reach out to others, but also look out for others. This is one way to protect our mental health.
- Know our limits and that we cannot reach out to everyone. What about my next door neighbour? Or a close friend I know is struggling? A family struggling with childcare. Single person on their own. Older people.
- You can get lost in yourself and it is very easy to get stuck in your own head and forget about other people. When we look at others, we put things into perspective…this is hard for me, but what about my other friends? What are their struggles?
Don’t feed your anxieties.
- We look after ourselves physically – get enough sleep, exercise, drink enough water
- What are we putting into our brains? What is our mental health diet?
- Stay informed, but put limits on news intake – maybe check in with one reputable news source once a day. Put in things that are going to feed you.
Eat a healthy mental diet.
- Get in the Bible where you can. Listen to Christian music. All the means of grace.
- Do things that feed you generally. What do you love? Crafts, sorting the house (without going too far on it!), gardening, going for your one walk/run a day
- It can be hard to get the Bible in when you’re struggling with your mental health - hard to concentrate. Be creative.
- Jesus Storybook Bible – really simple, basic gospel truths
- Pick a verse and meditate on it – put it on a card, carry it with you, put it on the wall/mirror and when your mind starts wandering tell yourself that truth again
- It’s about our mindset. This is life, but just in a different way
- For some people changes to routine are hugely difficult. Once they’re in the new routine they’re ok. In the change between the routines recognise that everybody finds it hard. You are not strange or weird for finding this difficult. This is a way we can help someone else.
- Break down day into smaller chunks – rest to work to rest (i.e. check emails, take a walk, sort something in the flat, call a friend etc). The whole day/week/month feels overwhelming. If you take it step by step it becomes more manageable.
- As you develop this new routine you develop a sense of safety and security. Make sure all of this is encompassed by scripture and knowledge of the Lord’s control and hand in everything as well. Not just saying binge watch Netflix, but trying to think through the day.
- At the start of the day would it be more helpful to look at even just one verse that is going to give you a different way of looking at the day and the world instead of checking the news?. That can change the way you see your day! Audio Bible. Get scripture in. Go to the gospels. This is not the time to be setting yourself extra challenges in terms of your Bible Reading.
- Create a coping bank - a list of things you can do that are healthy ways of dealing with stress. They are alternatives to what you might be tempted to do otherwise. g. run a bath, if you’ve got a pet give it a stroke, do some deep breathing, get out a jigsaw, phone a friend (make a list of three people you know you can talk to – put this in your phone or on your fridge), helplines that you can call if you can’t get through to anyone else.
Remember: Jesus does not self-isolate.
- He is not sitting up in the clouds. He comes down to us in our mess and in our sickness, sin and suffering and says ‘I want to be with you where you are and I want to carry that for you’.
- ‘God shows up to you disguised as your life circumstances’. We often think changes in our circumstances are detours. But, they are God showing up to us wrapped in all these circumstances. It is an intensification of everything – our mortality, our fragility. Revealing of what was always there.
Remember: Prayer is powerful.
- Worries are like a letter I’ve written to myself that I am re-reading over and over and over and treating myself like I am the one that is going to solve my problems. Instead of clutching these petitions to myself like I am the answerer to my own anxieties, pray them and send them off!
- Prayer is this recognition that I cannot fix this by myself.
- Philippians 4:6-7 What are the things we can be thankful for? There is a lot to be frightened of right now, but there is a lot to be thankful for. We have communities, social media where we can bless and encourage one another, access to our Bibles.
- Praying for others. Every time you panic – pray and then let it go. Sometimes it is helpful writing it on a bit of paper then, praying it, crumpling it up and then putting it in the bin
Remember: The Future is Bright
- What are we telling ourselves? What are we trusting? Who are we trusting? We have a really trustworthy source! The risen Christ has gone through the ultimate storm and horror and has come out the other side and promises to get us through. Psalm 23
- We will get to the other side of those very frightening graphs. We have to do this. It is the way of the gospel. Cross and then resurrection. It’s always the path of suffering and brokenness through which we find life.
- We are facing literal death at the moment, but also a million tiny deaths emotionally, mentally. We have got to die to all the things we thought we were to ourselves, others, society we thought we were in, our routines, everything about ourselves – we have got to die to it, but there is resurrection on the other side. Jesus is with us in this.
- There is no way around or being beamed out, but through it with Christ as our Good Shepherd we will come out the other side.
Adapted from Emma Scrivener’s Podcast and Blog