Mind Matters

One of the things that we have become much more conscious of since the pandemic is the state of our mental health. Many people went through very traumatic things over that time and there was a growing consciousness of how important it is to be able to speak to someone about these struggles.

I recently attended a seminar for clergy about stress and burnout. It was very well facilitated and made me aware of some of the signs that we can experience when we are under stress. They can range from lack of sleep to constantly being tired, from a sense of numbness to a feeling of constantly being overwhelmed. It can be responded to in a whole series of ways from overdependence on substances, like caffeine or alcohol, to realising our need to speak with someone about what we are experiencing, whether it’s a trusted friend or a health professional.

There is still a lot of stigma around our mental health and one of the hardest things for many of us to do is to open up to another person about the way we feel. We might feel anxious or struggle with mood swings. We sometimes find it hard to put words on our feelings, and it’s a precious thing when we find ourselves in what we believe to be a safe environment to share what we are going through.

One of the helpful takeaways from the session for me was a slide that spoke about the things that are outside of our control. These are things like other people’s opinions, what happens around me, the boundaries of others and the past. We also have no control over other people’s actions, what happens in the future, how others treat me and the outcome of my efforts. We might, for example, work really hard on delivering a project and find there is little appetite or response for that thing we have tried so hard to make available, and this can leave us feeling hurt or disappointed.

There are, however, things that are within our control. These are things like my boundaries, how I handle challenges, my thoughts or actions and my decisions. We can also control the goals we set and how I speak to myself. We can often be our own harshest critics and it’s important to learn to speak kindly to ourselves.

Being aware of these things can indeed make a difference, and one of the most helpful resources we have used as a church in recent years is a course called the Sanctuary Course. It offered people a safe space to think about and talk about our mental health. There was the opportunity to watch videos and to hear from people who had experienced a variety of mental health issues in their lives, and how they found mechanisms and strategies for dealing with those issues.

There wasn’t always a cure, as we might think of that term, but very often people spoke of being in recovery and learning to manage their symptoms and live with the challenges that were a part of their experience with the help of some resources or tools that helped their sense of wellbeing.

We concluded the session with groups working on a list of activities or resources from A-Z that might help us on a down day.  The presenter suggested pinning them in a prominent place and, perhaps, they might be helpful as we referred to them.

Could this be a useful resource for you on those days that might be challenging?

Our groups conclusions were as follows:

A for acrostics and puzzle books .
B for binge watching series on TV or birdwatching.
C for crochet, crafting, coffee .
D was for driving for pleasure.
E was for exercise.
F was for friends.
G was for gardening, gym and grass cutting.
H was for hobbies or holiday planning.
I was for inviting people over.
J was for jogging or jokes.
K was for knitting or kites.
L was for laughing.
M was for music.
N was for napping.
O was for the outdoors.
P was for photography or painting.
Q was for quiet time.
R was for running, reading or resting.
S was for swimming, sleeping and sunsets.
T was for takeaways and television.
U was for undressing into something more comfortable than work clothes and Ulster fry!
V was for venting and videos.
W was for walking.
X was for Xbox.
Y was for yoga, YouTube and yodelling.
Z was for Zumba and the Zoo.

Don’t forget the children can look forward to Messy Church on Friday at 3.30 pm in the hall.

Look forward to speaking again soon.

Much love to everyone,


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