Pastoral care is a gift we can continue to offer to each other, no matter what is happening around us or where we are. Here are some ideas, tips and guidelines for self care and care for others. This is all pastoral care but not as we know it.
When we want to care for others the first priority is to care for ourselves. Like in an aeroplane emergency we are told to put our own oxygen mask before we help anybody else, it is important that before we care for others we care for ourselves first.
Self care looks different for different people and you need to decide what works best for you. Some of us are morning persons, others are night owls, some of us love reading a book while others would rather do some gardening. All of this works, it’s up to you to decide what works best for you.
Here are some tips and ideas:
Keep a routine
Prioritise self care
A good way to break the chain and give yourself some space:
Breathe in 3 counts, hold 3 counts, breathe out 3 counts, hold 3 counts, repeat 3 times. It breaks up your thoughts and it regulates your breathing both of which will be helpful if your mind has gone into overdrive. It may also be helpful when you have trouble going (back) to sleep.
It is ok to find your sleep impacted in troubling times like this. Practising kindness and self compassion around it are going to be more helpful than allowing anxiety and frustration to run riot. You may want to put some engaging but not too exciting reading on your bedside table, count backwards in sevens from one thousand, count sheep, get up and give yourself some space, journal, or pray. Getting rest, even when it is not sleep, is better than getting no rest at all.
Know your limits – Referral Tips
Some things are bigger than we are, and outside our competence. To recognise when that may be the case is a skill and a gift. We can refer on to people better skilled and trained than we are, or with more time and energy than we can make available at the time, for help. It is great to have a whole host of possibilities up our sleeves to hand on and hand over to.
Presbytery Minister Pastoral Care: Anneke Oppewal, 0437298454, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lifeline on 13 11 14 for 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention or if you have internet access visit their website https://www.lifeline.org.au/ for other options (If you are deaf, or have a hearing impairment or speech impairment, contact Lifeline through the National Relay Service: TTY (teletypewriter) users phone 133 677 then ask for 13 11 14; Speak and Listen users phone 1300 555 727 then ask for 13 11 14; Internet relay users connect to the NRS then ask for 13 11 14
Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 for 24 hour support, or if you have internet access, visit their website https://www.beyondblue.org.au/ for other options.
1800 RESPECT Phone 1800 737 732 or visit their website https://www.1800respect.org.au for family violence and sexual assault support. The website is designed so people can exit the page quickly if it becomes unsafe to be on the page.
Care for others
What we can do: We can show up, offer time and attention, a phone call, a zoom chat, a card in the letterbox, a wave from a distance, a smile for a stranger walking on the other side of the street……. We can curb our impatience, our fear and our anxiety when we are around other people and cultivate kindness, calm, empathy and a willingness to withhold judgement to pastorally care for others no matter where we are.
If you are talking with people remember that time and the preparedness to hear them out is often the most important thing you can give to someone. However helpful your advice may be, they may not be ready to hear it.
The most obvious way of doing this if you are still able to get out is by offering to shop for others and drop items off at their place. Connecting with someone else to limit their social isolation is also helping. Some people will find it very encouraging to know that someone else is praying for them. You can offer, ask if they would like to be prayed for, and accept if it is not their thing. Don’t share what they have told you with others without their permission.
There are many ways to connect even if it isn’t physical: Online, through social media, zoom/skype/facetime/google hangouts, phone, card, or walk past and wave. It may be time to set up or extend a telephone tree or an email chain with people you know where you commit to connect at regular times. Or convert existing groups to connecting in a different way. Knowing that someone is thinking of you and caring can make all the difference to someone.
Idea: Order your stamps through Australia Post, they will deliver them to your door!
35 Ways to Love Your Neighbours by Mike Frost
Resources for supporting children and young people
Being a community when you can’t meet (Methodist Church UK)
Prayer is a gift we can exercise at this time to stay sane and to support others. Use prayers others have written or write your own, even just take a deep breath, count to ten and ask God to hold whatever is crowding your mind. Or take some time to put all the thoughts and prayers that come up into an imaginary basket you can leave at God’s feet.
An old prayer by Martin Luther
Stay with us‚ Lord‚
because it is toward evening
and the day is almost spent.
Stay with us and with all people.
Stay with us in the evening of the day‚
in the evening of life
in the evening of this world.
Stay with us in your grace and goodness‚
with your Word and sacraments‚
with your consolation and blessings.
Stay with us
also in the night of sorrow and fear‚
the night of doubt and temptations‚
the night of bitter death.
Stay with us
and with all your children
in time and eternity.
A new prayer by Nadia Bolz Webber
God who made us all,
Our healers are exhausted, God. Give rest to those who care for the sick.
Our children are bored, God. Grant extra creativity to their caregviners.
Our friends are lonely, God. Help us to reach out.
Our pastors are doing the best they can, God. Help them to know it is enough.
Our workers are jobless, God. Grant us the collective will to take care of them.
Our fellow parents are losing their minds, God. Bring unexpected play and joy and dance parties to all in need.
Our grocery workers are absorbing everyones’s anxiety, God. Protect them from us.
Our elderly are even more isolated God. Comfort them.
We haven’t don’t this before and we are scared, God.
I don’t even know what else to pray for.
A hand washing prayer by Brian D McLaren
God of healing and well-being,
As I wash my hands I ask you
To cleanse me of other invisible viruses
Of the soul:
Fear, hate, pride, greed, lust, hostility, Supremacy, superiority, selfish interest,
And all constriction of the heart.
As I join billions of others in this practice,
Help me feel how deeply we are all connected And equally, infinitely loved by you.
Or pray the ‘Our Father’, it takes about 20 seconds and will connect you to other Christians all over the world, going back 2000 years while you wash your hands.
You may want to get your hymnbook out or look up the words of hymns you know and pray them, singing, speaking, or in the silence of your heart.