Sunday, 29 March 2020

Mental health in the time of COVID-19

In a time of social distancing, it is even more important than ever to talk about mental health, and for each of us to take care of our own mental health and that of those around us.

There are many ways to do this, even in self-isolation. A few suggestions I have include:

1) If you're panicking, try to ground yourself by looking round the room and counting how many items of a certain colour you can see. Or how many different colours you can see. You could hold your wrist and count your pulse.
2) Self care. Its easy to forget self care in a time of crisis, but it is more valuable to do it now than ever before. By taking time out from stuff, we can gain a different perspective on things. Take a walk (following government guidelines), have a bath, read a book, eat some chocolate, whatever works for you.
3) If you're working from home, try and separate your work and home life as much as practically possible. Turn your work laptop off, set regular hours (and stick to them), take regular breaks.

The MHFA England websites has all sorts of tips and ideas to help maintain good mental health at this time, please do go and look. There are loads of other helpful resources out there too.

We need to remember that whilst we are socially distancing, we are only physically apart from each other. We still need to maintain and build relationships - are not relationally distant from one another.

I'm a trained mental health first aider - if you need a chat just get in touch. I will be able to listen without judgement and am able to signpost you on to resources and services.

Know that you are not alone. You are loved and cared for.
Its OK not to be OK, but remember to reach out if you need help.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

The Lord is our Shepherd

The Lord is our shepherd,
we shall not want.
He makes us lie down in green pastures.
He leads us beside still waters.
Come, let us worship the Lord, the holy God,
and let our souls be restored.
Thank you, Lord, for the good gifts that you have given us.
We praise you because you have prepared a banquet for us:
you have anointed us with oil and our cup overflows.
Thank you that your goodness and mercy
follows us all the days of our lives,
and we will dwell in your house our whole life long.
We give you thanks and praise that when we are far off,
when we are blind to everything around us,
you do not abandon us,
but you come and find us, you seek us out.
Thank you, Lord.


You might be feeling long and drawn out, spread too thinly, like the draft excluding cow.
You might be feeling blue, sad, or anxious, like the blue moo.
You might be feeling like you want to use your gifts and talents to help people, and serve God, like the jingle moo.
You might be feeling bug eyed, completely confused, like the highland cow with big eyes.
You might be wanting to help people keep safe and warm, like the cow hat.
You might be feeling like you need a bit of wisdom and guidance, like the owl.
You might be feeling like you want to be part of things, but don’t quite fit in, like the cow fish.
However you’re feeling, know that God loves you, just as you are.

Butterflies and COVID-19

Spring is the start of many new things, we see new life springing up out of the ground, trees coming back to life, and new life being born in farmer’s fields.

Two years ago, in Spring, I was able to witness first-hand the life cycle of a butterfly.  I received some caterpillars by post (intentionally might I add!), as part of a kit from a company called Insect Lore. When they arrived, they were only a couple of millimetres long but as they ate the food that came with them, their size increased until they were almost one hundred times their starting size. 

When the time was right, they climbed to the top of the pot and a complete transformation took place, when they formed into chrysalides. A couple of weeks later they emerged from their chrysalides and turned into butterflies.

I was then able to release them into the garden. It was glorious to see something so small and seemingly insignificant turned into a beautiful butterfly. It got me thinking that the little, insignificant things we do in life can often have a huge effect on those around us and we might not even realise. Every action that we do then, must be done with love and care, as if we were doing it for our maker – “for whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me” (Matthew 25). What are we going to do differently in this time of self isolation because of COVID-19; with more love and more of Jesus in our lives, as we travel onwards through this time of new beginnings?

There is also an element of waiting and patience involved in waiting for caterpillars to grow large enough to transform into chrysalides, then hatch into butterflies. Those who know me will realise that I am not the most patient person, so there was constant checking of the habitat and wondering why it wasn’t time yet. I could barely contain my excitement when the first butterfly emerged, it was a glorious moment. How many times are we left waiting? I’m sure there are different kinds of waiting for different kinds of circumstances, from the excited expectation of a child waiting for Christmas to a mother waiting for her child to come home from tour in the Armed Forces, or indeed waiting for things to change, an illness to get better, or waiting for a new beginning like the birth of a baby. God is there with us in all of our waiting. Let us know the peace and love of Christ as we move forward in all aspects of our lives.

There is also sometimes an element of disappointment. Nature isn’t always perfect, as I found out with the last 2 chrysalides. One of them didn’t hatch at all, and the last one to hatch was hatched with broken wings and he couldn’t fly. We tried our best to make the best of the situation, Mark built him a little habitat so he could enjoy being outside but still be safe as he kept wandering in to the road of all places! The important thing to remember is that God is always with us, even in times of disappointment and illness, and in these times it is important to draw near to him and still have faith.

In this time of waiting, frustration, and disappointment caused by COVID-19, let us try to once again connect with God, to become human beings, rather than human doings, to take time to reflect on who we are in God’s love. At the end of this time of self-isolation, who knows, we might be something completely different, and more beautiful, just like when a caterpillar turns in to a butterfly.