In 2020, as New Zealand was in its first lockdown, it was important to remind ourselves that this was a marathon, not a sprint. We had a lot in front of us and for some, our mental health was feeling a little fragile. Naomi Cowan from Equip at Windsor Park Baptist Church wrote a really helpful piece on looking after our taha hinengaro—our mental and emotional wellbeing.
Well here we are with Easter out of the way and we head into week three of lockdown. I don’t know about you but I am feeling a bit tired, a bit zoomed out. I have seen a bit of complacency starting to creep in with people I know being very ‘flexible’ around lockdown rules which I try not to let worry me but it does because of where it could lead—a longer lockdown timeframe and unnecessary exposure for vulnerable people to COVID-19. Things like this and the uncertainty that this pandemic brings to every area of our life can start to wear us down somewhat in regards to our mental wellbeing.
Here are some things to think about as we lead and pastor our people through this week:
If we are tired with uncertainty, rules and some worry, our people are too
Staying connected with our teams and our people is probably even more important this week. Leaning into God more in our own personal time with him as well as deliberately being connected with others will help keep perspective. However we cannot give what we do not have so we need to reach out to others, not only to bless them but to also receive ourselves. Remember this is a marathon not a sprint and you need to pace yourself. You need to plan connection time with others who do not drain you.
Now is the time to be authentic, not stoic
Your people will respect you more if you can be a bit more open and vulnerable than usual in a way that is appropriate. Just by telling ourselves it is normal to be experiencing some mental wellbeing issues during a pandemic is quite a loving thing to do for yourself. And it is very inspiring to those we lead when they see you can be open about your own worries even if it is just a little bit. After all it would be a bit odd if we weren’t feeling a bit bad. There is something quite reassuring and inspiring about knowing you are not the only one having some worry thoughts, sleep problems or behaviours around excessively checking for symptoms.
Plan for some fun
Because we are all suffering a bit from lockdown fatigue—plan to have some fun. Give your head a little holiday. Do whatever is legal and fun for you. Maybe it’s just a few word games on your phone that you can take a break and play at regular intervals. Maybe it is playing cricket in the hallway with your dog or maybe it is a daily dose of something on Netflix.
There are some new online tools to support which offer a range of supports for yourself or others around mental wellbeing particularly in relation to the pandemic. These tools help bridge the physical distance gap. Find out more about the Mentemia app, Melon app and Staying on Track e-therapy course by clicking on these links. And of course, there is always the free mental health helpline 1737. The longer something goes on that we cannot control the more we can struggle with frustration. May we all lead with the humility and vulnerability of Jesus during this time and may we all allow ourselves to be loved and blessed by others.
Contributor: Naomi Cowan, Equip
Equip is a leading mental health organisation, an extension of Windsor Park Baptist Church, providing an innovative model of care, effective support and education in the greater Auckland region.