Looking after your mental health
The Church of England has published a leaflet giving tips to help loneliness and address related mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
Suggestions include praying, talking about how you feel (using phone, social media, etc), looking after yourself physically, looking after others, focusing on the things that you can change rather than on the things you can’t.
I like that last one. What you can’t change, you can’t change! Jesus said that no one could add to his or her height, or live longer, by worrying.
There is the lovely “serenity” prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
We are a bit limited in what we CAN do, but here are some ideas I have picked up.
Looking after others. Even if only in small ways, but do what you can: a smile (you can smile over the phone – it shows in your voice!), a kind word, writing a letter or an email. If you are kind to others you gain a benefit yourself – you feel better in yourself. Don’t forget that giving to charity is a way of looking after others.
You can celebrate memories of a lost loved one. Find a photograph of the person who has died, write down memories of them, and light a candle in their memory.
Prayer-wise, why not sit at a table with some potentially meaningful spiritual objects, such as a small glass of wine, a lit candle, stones, or a cross? These help to focus our minds on our crucified but risen saviour. Even better if you can do this at the same time as a friend (who is also in isolation).
And if you connect with someone else, why not share a cup of tea? “Let’s make a cup of tea,” we say in any crisis. It soothes and refreshes and helps us get things in perspective.
There is to be a virtual Chelsea Flower Show 19th-23rd May. The theme? Loneliness and Mental Health. And that connects us to the garden. According to Sue Briggs, RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) Director General, “many feel they need gardening in their life now more than ever before, for their mental and physical wellbeing during this national emergency.” Guy Barker, chief horticulturalist at the RHS said: “Nurturing plants can make you less lonely and release you from troubles.” And that also should do wonders for your physical well-being (another suggested tip for keeping going mentioned above).