Pastoral Care & Health Resources for Wellness
Everyone is being affected in so many ways by COVID-19. During this time of prolonged and acute stress, supporting mental health as well as physical wellness is essential. Here you will find resources to support you, your family, and your community to stay healthy and to renew your sense of hope during this time of crisis.
Mental Health Resources
The following resources have been curated to help support mental health and wellbeing during this time of isolation and grieving.
- Psychological First Aid: Supporting Yourself and Others During COVID-19 offered by the American Red Cross as a free online course completed on your own schedule.
- Curated list of faith based books published by Church Publishing on topics related to mental health awareness.
- Series of reflections on how to cope with anxiety and loneliness in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, including simple Christian meditation techniques and five tips, published by the Church of England.
- Resources for processing grief and lament curated by our Christian Formation and Discipleship team at VTS
- Guided Retreat-in-Place, offered by the Brothers of SSJE, and Holy Interruptions, an online quiet day offered by Shalem Institute.
Personal Wellness Resources
How can we take care of ourselves so we can then reach out from a place of strength and resilience with care and love for others. Here are some ways to approach health and wellness practices during this time of social distancing:
- Prayer and reflection are a great place to begin. Start the day with 15 minutes just to be quiet, breathe and calm your spirit. Talk to God, read scripture or draw on the other spiritual practices that are most nourishing to you.
- Make sure to remember the basics and getting plenty of rest, as this will make all the difference in what energy you will have each day.
- Plan to eat regular meals, with the healthiest foods you have available. Remember that we all may be less active in these days of more isolation, so be sure to adjust your portion sizes to reflect this.
- Find ways to exercise and move your body and keep your muscles active. Exercise in your home or take a walk, hike, run or bike ride. Check to see if your gym or fitness studio is offering an online options for classes and support during this time. Peloton is offering free 90 day trial with their app for online workouts during this time.
- Tend to your feelings of stress and anxiety during this time. Meet with your spiritual director or therapist by Zoom or phone. Here are guidelines from the CDC on managing your stress.
- Create new structures for the rhythm of your day. Think of developing a new weekly schedule with times set aside for work, relaxation, family and friends and play.
- Begin reading that book you have been wishing you had time to enjoy, simply for pleasure. Gather with friends or a group from church for Zoom for a virtual book club.
- Connect with family and friends regularly by phone, text, Zoom or Skype.
- Zoom has a free option that allows people to meet for up to 40 minutes (PC and Mac compatible)
- Skype free signup and allows video calls of up to 50 people at once (PC or Mac compatible)
- FaceTime (iPhone users) allows up to 32 people at a time
- Google Hangout allows you to have a text conversation with one person or multiple people – you can include photos, emojis, stickers
- Marco Polo – video service allows you to record video and send to one person or multiple people – transmission is delayed and not in real-time
- Organize a virtual dinner party where family and friends each make a meal in their kitchen at home, then join each other by Zoom for conversation and fun at the dinner table.
- Cooking together – select the same, simple recipe or a favorite family dish then enjoy eating it together
- Order food from the same restaurant and sitdown together to enjoy it (Zoom, Skype, FaceTime
- Select a music playlist, open a bottle of wine and enjoy Happy Hour with family/friends (Zoom, Skype, FaceTime)
- Find ways to do those things that bring you joy, a craft, tinkering in the garage, or working a bit on your latest project at home. Illustrated Ministry is offering free weekly coloring pages right now. A good way to craft, meditate, and rest your mind.
- Now is a great time to call, email or FaceTime friends in far flung places who you don’t get to see so often.
- Through this time, consider how God is present to you in new ways. This could be a great time to begin journaling about how you are being inspired and challenged these days.
- Children and youth will benefit from learning and practicing coping skills during this time of change and uncertainty. 15 Coping Skills for Kids provides strategies for helping young people embrace their emotions.
Individual and Group Spiritual Direction
- Consider beginning a practice of individual or group spiritual direction during this time. The Rev. Michelle Danson is creative in the way that she approaches Spiritual Direction. Each 90-minute session begins with a period of silent prayer. She meets with directees on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, maintaining Wednesday as her Sabbath. Evening appointments are available. Rev. Michelle can meet via Skype, FaceTime, or Phone, and will facilitate group Spiritual Direction sessions via Zoom. Rev. Michelle is a Contemplative Seeker and has a rich and varied life experience, is an Episcopal Priest, retreat and workshop teader, trained Labyrinth and SoulCollage® Facilitator, Reiki II Practitioner, and teacher of The Enneagram in the Narrative Tradition. Contact her via email at MADanson@me.com.
- Spiritual Direction Colorado is pleased to provide a list of Spiritual Directors as a resource to people throughout the state of Colorado and beyond. Find a spiritual director >
- The Seek and Find Guide from Spiritual Directors International allows you to search for a spiritual director from an extensive online database.
Pastoral Care Resources for Times of Crisis
- 10 Guidelines for Pastoral Care During the Coronavirus Outbreak, Christian Century
- 20 Beats 19: Spiritual Resilience in a Time of Pandemic, from Psychology Today
- Lessons from Ministry in the Midst of Disaster, from a clergyperson in Sandy Hook, CT
Suggestions for Pastoral Care while Maintaining Physical Distance
As minister, “pastoral presence” is essential to our work. But what does “presence” look like when physical distancing is required?
- At times like these, it is more important to have eye and contact, wave, or find other ways to visually acknowledge that other participants are involved either online or by phone.
- Use of technology and social media are extremely helpful, but it is also important to be aware that there are many people for whom technology is not available or possible. Older and vulnerable people may not be able to participate by computer or social media. Old-fashioned phone calls, phone trees, and hand written notes may be the best ways to stay connected.
- As clergy, we know something about systems theory and what happens to systems and people with heightened stress and anxiety, so that in our current time of heightened cultural stress and anxiety, we can bring our expertise to bear. Name and help people know about anxiety and how it affects the system, and how it may be affecting them.
- Continue to pay attention to the flow of life: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Despite the COVID-19, everyone will still have all of our life issues unfolding. Celebrations and events will need to be reimagined during this time, but may serve an even more important function in the time of physical distancing.
- Encourage to maintain your own best practices for life and ministry: healthy eating, walking outdoors, family connections, friendships (recognizing you may need to make these connections virtually), and more. Continue the practices that feed you, even if now in different forms.
- We have expert knowledge about processes and the healthier ways of distributing information and communications. Help this expertise guide how information is being handled and distributed. Because current situation is changing so rapidly and anxiety is heightened, being clear on best practices with communications in an age of anxiety is a skill you can bring that is helpful.
- Some people will experience extreme hardships financially and otherwise. Don’t minimize this and become aware of support services that may be available to bridge the gaps that people are experiencing. If possible, be kind and generous to those who are in need or who may be hurting: give a much larger tip to delivery drivers or when ordering food for pickup, send a small “donation” to small, independent personal service industry businesses you normally frequent, maybe reach out to ones that you’ve always wanted to try or who may be caught in the racially-based bashing that is happening, and as always be kind!
- Being aware of and talk about the loss of or delay of traditional activities and rituals that social distancing is creating. These include sports activities and championship games, music and theatre performances, graduations and graduation parties, worship services including Holy Week and Easter, funerals and weddings, anniversary and birthday celebrations, and more. And there are the smaller in-person activities of life: going out to dinner after church, going to the grocery store or the doctor’s office, routine dental cleanings or blood work, meeting with friends for regular get-togethers, education and learning events, going to the museum or zoo for an outing, and more. Grief and loss is also our expertise, so pay attention to the multiple ways that people may be experiencing loss which will be compounded as the days and weeks wear on.
- Develop rituals to acknowledge we are in unprecedented times, or adapt the ones already known. Light candles “together” at prescribed times, commit to attending worship virtually, write letters and send them, create a quilt “together” where each person creates one square and then it is assembled (either by another person or to be done later), and more.
Making Space for New Possibilities
- Although it can feel frantic for all of us on different levels as we adjust to a new “normal”, there is also a slower pace that many people are living into. With cancellation of conferences and various person-to-person meetings, and after school events, and yes, even church and synagogue, the overall pace is can be less frenetic. Despite the memes about home-schooling and hiding from the children, people can now spend time with family, taking walks together, watching movies at home, breaking the patterns of “too much to do and not enough time”.
- If some news articles are to be believed, we are finally doing what climate change advocates have been demanding for quite a while, and mother earth is letting us know it is working. Clearer waters are returning in some canals in Italy, animals returning to habitats, skies are clearing in China with factories closed to production, reduction of cars on the road is reducing smog and air pollution. It will be interesting to see if we, as a world, country, or /individuals, can adopt more of these as ongoing practices for the health of our world, not just for the health of the people in the world.
- Perhaps we can take the 20 seconds of hand washing as a spiritual practice time, centering ourselves, praying for others, and being mindful about what is the next thing we are doing and with whom we will be interacting.