Next week is Mental Health Awareness week, and as we work to support the wellbeing of our communities at this difficult time, it is important that we all remember that mental health problems can affect anyone, at any time. While you have been working so hard to minister to the needs of others, you must also take time to care for your own wellbeing.
The St Luke's Clergy Wellbeing Programme has offered some useful advice on how to attend to your own wellbeing at a time when we have all had to adapt to new rhythms of life and find new ways to cope with the stresses of our work. As part of the Clergy Wellbeing Programme, Peter Wells has shared his insight on living long-term with a pandemic:
However resilient I consider myself to be, there is always the possibility, often subtly felt and cumulative, that this 'thing' just gets too much to handle. It's too much to think about, too much to live with, just too much. And this is not just for a couple of months, this is a marathon, and I've not been in training for such a marathon. This virus attacks health, my health, however old I might be, whoever I am.
As a human being I require, to a greater or lesser extent, social interaction, and now, because I am spending more time with those I usually live with, I might have too much or, because I am more on my own, too little!!
Why does crisis fatigue occur?
I am not in control and I feel confused, baffled and vulnerable a lot of the time
The cumulative effect of endless news updates on TV and radio, and a bombardment of comments on social media, texts, emails and phone calls
A lot of uncertainty as to exactly what is going on, what is required by me, what can I do, how do I help others
There is no space left to think of anything else, or manage anything else, or be interested in anything else
How can I not feel under siege, how can I not feel fatigue!
What to look out for
I can become distracted or disinterested in other aspects of life
Because I don't know what to do or how to respond, I get fearful and express it in anger or go silent. I sulk, I don't want to talk to anyone
I might not notice that I'm less interested in eating because I am anxious, or I am over- eating because I'm trying to soothe myself
My sleep pattern becomes disturbed
If I'm at home so much, either alone or with others, I get bored, I don't know how to express my frustration - except towards others or the cat!
I find myself ruminating about what might or might not happen to me, to others, to the world
What can I do?
ACCEPT that this crisis is going to last some time and prepare myself.
A: acknowledge that I am not in control and I need to find ways of coping
C: compromise on what I would like to do and work out what I can do
C: know that there will be consequences that are out of my control
E: show empathy to others because this shows that I and they are not alone
P: be passionate about caring for myself and those around me
T: trust in myself that I am doing all I can
Create a routine
Prioritise what needs to be done each day
Plan out my day to give it a structure
Pace myself so that I don't do everything at once
Permission to know I can only do so much, and seeking help and support is not weakness
Take a break
We all need time off from the news and worries.
Give myself 'news' breaks - I can catch up with the news later
Create distractions that I enjoy, such as books, games, tv, radio, films, online games
Make sure that I video-link with others so that I can see faces, not just words in a text or voices on the phone
Include some meditation, mindfulness, prayer
Create an exercise programme that I enjoy, even if simply walking up and downstairs and some stretches or online yoga sessions
Set meal and sleep times
And remember …
I, and those I am in contact with, are going to have days of sadness and frustration
I need to be honest about how I feel and not hide or deny it
I know others will be feeling the same
I need to be kind to myself, and those around me.
With our prayers for you all,
Bishop Tim, Bishop David and Bishop Debbie
And the Bishop's Staff Team:
Andrew Robinson, Diocesan Chief Executive
Catherine Ogle, Dean of Winchester
Peter Rouch, Archdeacon of Bournemouth
Richard Brand, Archdeacon of Winchester
Mat Phipps, Bishop's Chaplain