How to care for yourself and others

In these times of possible stress and anxiety, I read a great article the other day that I thought I would pass on in regard to pastoral care. It had a number of suggestions about caring for others during this difficult time, but could also be helpful in caring for ourselves too.

  1. Reach out – social distancing perhaps should really be called physical distancing. Socially we need to be reaching out to those in need.
  2. Talk things through – offer a safe space to talk things through. Sometimes that is all that is needed (Proverbs 20:5).
  3. Check on self-care – do they have enough food and other necessary supplies? Medications? If necessary, arrange a medical appointment for them and, if appropriate, arrange transport and go with them to the appointment (1 Timothy 6:8).
  4. Break down their concerns – listening can be the best skill to have, but don’t promise them that the worst won’t happen. Encourage them not to think about the worst possible outcome, but instead focus on the most likely outcome (Luke 12:32).
  5.  Break down what needs to happen – try to focus on the here and now, not so much tomorrow or next week. Perhaps be specific and break things down into manageable goals (Matthew 6:34).
  6. Help build new routines – remind them that God is still in control. Encourage them to work through what they can and to eat regularly, even if they don’t feel like it (Proverbs 15:22).
  7. Make a ‘coping bank’ with them – this is a list of things that they can turn to in a time of need. It might include people to call, or specific things to do (Revelation 2:4-5).
  8. Don’t offer false reassurances – instead remind them if you can where God has been faithful in the past (Jeremiah 6:14).
  9. Ask about their mental diet as well as their physical needs – perhaps limit social media and news if that is not helping (Philippians 4:8).
  10. Challenge false guilt – sometimes people question everything that they do and find fault in it (1 Peter 3:6).
  11. Make the spiritual simple – encourage them to keep reading the Bible. Read it with them if you can and offer to pray with them too (Matthew 6:7).
  12. Communicate hope – sometimes watching the news can be overwhelming! There needs to be hope after the difficulty, hope that will not fade, hope for eternity! (John 16:33).

For further information and encouragement, see the article in full at https:// www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/friends-anxiety-depression/

John Burke

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