How to navigate life after lockdown:

Tips to help you stay mentally and spiritually healthyImage of compass on a pebble beach. Text: How to navigate life after lockdown, tips to stay mentally and spiritually healthy

Guest post by Sarah Hay, Lecturer and Member Care Specialist at All Nations.

Did ‘Freedom Day’ deserve its name? Did you think that the removal of all social restrictions after so long in lockdown during this pandemic was rash? Or way too long coming?

After so long in a pandemic, it’s tempting to go back to exactly how things were. To fill our lives with more work, more activities, more social events. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But think carefully about each activity that you re-introduce, so that you keep some space in your life for you

As Christians, we understand the Greatest Commandment to ‘Love God’ and the second commandment to ‘love your neighbour’ (Matthew 22:37–39). God’s mission – the missio dei – focuses on sharing God’s love with the world. The new MA in Staff Care and Wellbeing unpacks the theology of caring for others, but an important element of this is caring for ourselves. Because if we’re burnt out, how can we support other people? Here are some top tips for re-entering life after lockdown and prioritising self-care.

Sleep

One of the keys to good health and wellbeing is getting a consistent amount of sleep. Going to sleep at roughly the same time each night, and getting up at the same time in the morning is good for you. You probably already know how much sleep you need and admittedly some need more than others, but however much you need, try and keep it consistent. Try using an app like Sleep Cycle, which helps you monitor it and gives you tips (including whether you snore or not!).

Nature

Scientific research shows that contact with the natural world improves mental health by shifting levels of our stress hormones and neurotransmitters. Even looking at images when you can't get outside can help. Natural fractal patterns can calm anxiety. Try and get outside every day, even for a short spell in the garden or a local park. Have a read of Dara McAnulty’s award-winning book Diary of a Young Naturalist to inspire you. If you're living in a high-rise block of flats, bring nature to you – enliven your decor with a variety of indoor plants.

Creativity

Creativity is a helpful tool for mental, social and spiritual resilience. Perhaps you don’t think you’re naturally creative and that you’re incapable of learning. The key to unlocking your creativity could be realising that what you create doesn’t have to be perfect

Creativity, even done badly (and let’s face it, who’s judging it but you?) is beneficial for your wellbeing – it can act as a form of cathartic release, allowing you to forget yourself and your worries and focus on something else entirely. If art is not your thing, perhaps words are. Buy a copy of How to Grow Your Own Poem by Kate Clanchy and have a go at writing something. The boost of dopamine into your brain will be well worth it. Write the first draft of the book that's been burning in your mind for the past few years. Write it just for you. No one else has to see it!

The key to unlocking your creativity could be realising that what you create doesn’t have to be perfect.

Healthy eating and exercise

This isn’t about guilt-tripping you into eating well and doing lots of exercise, as good as healthy eating and exercise undoubtedly are. It’s more a reminder, as restaurants open again and we get busier, to keep a watchful eye on what we consume and try to be active every day. Ever wondered about running? Download a Couch to 5k app and give it a go!

Spirituality

It might seem obvious that we need to pay attention to our spiritual lives, but as we return to ‘normal’, our time will get squeezed by responsibilities, work, family and so on. A wise friend recently wrote that ‘God wants my company more than he wants my work’. Can you say, at the end of each day, that you’ve given God some of your time and attention? As you enter life after lockdown, try and keep some time each day for God and, therefore, your soul. If you need something to help you, try the Lectio 365 app or buy a copy of Debbie Hawker and Tony Horsfall’s excellent book Resilience in Life and Faith: Finding your Strength in God.

God wants my company more than he wants my work

As we emerge from this pandemic together, show yourself the care that you would like others to give to you.

The new MA award in Staff Care and Wellbeing, validated by The Open University and delivered through All Nations Christian College, takes a deeper look at issues in staff care and wellbeing. If you want to reflect on your practice, learn from others in the member care/staff care space, and develop leading research in this exciting, emerging field, this could be the course for you. It can be done full-time one year residential, part-time, completely online over three years, or a mix of it all! Find out more about the programme here.

 

 

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