An article by Laura Clark
“Remember kindness – Remember His promise”
Hi, I’m Laura and I work as a counsellor in two settings: firstly in a Primary School in Gillingham with children. There, I clinically supervise a group of teaching staff who take a lead in building resilience and attachment for children.
Secondly, I work in Croydon, South London, with babies and their families and I run a therapy service in Maidstone with Lara Forza working into SEN schools.
I want to share a few thoughts about mental health. This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. This year’s theme is KINDNESS.
Kindness seems like a good place to start when considering our mental health. This is not just about the kindness we show to each other, but it is the kindness we show to ourselves also. I have worked with so many people who live with a feeling of shame about who they are or what they have experienced. In this time of lockdown, and grief for some, it might have created some new or unusual responses for you. Remembering kindness to yourself is a really good place to start.
I have put together resources which you can access at the bottom of this article. These resources are for adults and for kids. There is a PDF calendar of activities for children at school and at home – if you’d like to focus on kindness this next week – as well as lots of ideas based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which is usually the recommended therapy in times of anxiety.
So how to respond in a pandemic…
There are no black and white responses to this time. For most of us, we have never experienced anything like it. I have seen people with more introverted personalities actually feel a sense of freedom in this time in not needing to be socially active. And then there are those who have found this time painfully disconnecting.
There are a few thoughts you might want to consider and I hope this might be helpful for you.
If you are someone who has found solace in staying home and think you might struggle with reconnecting back in, I want to say, please, let someone climb in your life now and be face to face with people on Zoom, FaceTime, whatever. I’m not talking about accountability, I’m talking about vulnerability.
Grounding is a good technique to fend off symptoms of anxiety and stress when things feel overwhelming. Grounding involves trying to take your mind off of uncomfortable symptoms or thoughts.
You can use the following method if you’re feeling anxious:
Start by sitting in a comfortable place and taking a deep breath. Then remember 5-4-3-2-1:
- 5 – LOOK: Look around for 5 things you can see, and say them out loud.
- 4 – FEEL: Pay attention to your body and think of 4 things that you can feel, and say them out loud.
- 3 – LISTEN: Listen for 3 sounds. It could be the sound of traffic outside, the sound of typing, etc. And say them out loud.
- 2 – SMELL: Say 2 things you can smell. If you can’t smell anything or you can’t move to find smells, then name your 2 favourite smells.
- 1 – TASTE: Say 1 thing you can taste. It may be the toothpaste from brushing your teeth or the last thing you ate, etc. If you can’t taste anything, then say your favourite thing to taste.
Lastly, I want to encourage you with this promise from Jesus:
Matthew 11:28-30 New International Version (NIV)
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 The Message (MSG)
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”