5 Tips For Wellbeing in Lockdown

5 Handy Tips for Wellbeing In Lockdown

Lockdown can be a lonely time. And anxious. And depressing. And quiet.
 
For some it’s been a time to chill out, do a spring clean, put up those shelves you’ve been meaning to do for months.
 
Others have found it really tough. Relying on friends to get the shopping, not seeing family, nerves getting frayed, reduced to watching Match of the Day repeats from pre-history.
 
For some it’s been simply tragic. The unprepared-for loss of loved ones, ICU, working on the front line and having to make life or death decisions and then having to live with the burden of responsibility that comes along with it.
 
Over the last few weeks I’ve heard many people say they’re struggling mentally. The stress has been overwhelming at times and the worries about the future are inescapable.
 
Those of us who might talk things over in a café with a friend, or seek face-to-face pastoral support or counselling are very limited in our options.
 
Lockdown will be a difficult time for us all.
 
So, is there anything we can do to lower the anxiety? Help our low mood? Get us feeling more optimistic?
 
Well, yes.
 
First off, let’s rewind the clock just over 10 years.
Back in the early 2000s the Five Ways to Wellbeing (5 Ways) were developed by the New Economics Foundation from evidence gathered in the UK government’s Foresight Project on mental capital and wellbeing. They were published in 2008 and sum up the project’s findings.
 
The 5 Ways are a set of evidence-based actions.
Simple, everyday activities which promote wellbeing. They’ve been adopted by health organisations, schools, and community projects across the UK and globally to help people improve their wellbeing. But they seem to have dropped off the radar a bit recently.

The 5 Ways are:
Connect:
Evidence indicates that feeling close to, and valued by, other people is a fundamental human need and one that underpins good health. Social relationships are vital for wellbeing and create a buffer against mental ill health.
During lockdown our social connections have been disrupted. Isolation and distancing make connecting a huge challenge.
But there are steps we can take: online chats, phone calls, connecting with neighbours we might rarely speak to otherwise, church Connect groups via Skype. The possibilities are as great as our imaginations.
Be Active:
Regular physical activity is linked with lower rates of depression and anxiety. Exercise is also vital for slowing cognitive decline as we age.
Especially now. With no team sports, parkruns, gyms, public parks and playgrounds shut down.
Most of us are now exercising in different ways. Longer walks with the dog, home keep-fit, Joe Wicks …
Take Notice:
Studies have shown that being aware of what is taking place in the present moment directly enhances wellbeing. Appreciating what is happening around us and within us can help us to self-monitor and be more aware of what is really going on in one-to-one and group situations.
And it’s so quiet now. We can hear birdsong. We have time to enjoy creation in a fresh way.
Learn:
Continued learning through life enhances self-esteem and encourages social interaction and a more active life. This can be helpful whatever the stage of our career and particularly for those approaching the end of their working lives and beyond.
Maybe learn a new skill? Learn to bake? Read more? Dust off those hobbies we loved, but which the pace of life has pushed out of the way? (I’m now re-perfecting my hoovering skills and I’ve sent off for a beginner’s ukulele).
Give:
Participation in social and community life has been shown to enhance our own health. The weight of recent research shows that an altruistic frame of mind goes hand in hand with wellbeing. Now, as never before, people are giving their time and energies to help those in their communities with shopping and practical needs. To say nothing of those on the front line in the NHS and elsewhere who we applaud loudly on Thursdays, and silently the rest of the time.

As a memorable way of remembering the 5 Ways you can think of those loveable pink woolly whistly Clangers:
Connect, Learn, be Active, take Notice, Give (CLANG)
Five fingers and a hand
But is that all there is to it? I realise those are helpful steps I can take to strengthen resilience. Is it really that simple? Is that all I have to do to keep well? Well … nope.

For Christians, surely there’s more, much more.
Jesus promised not just life, but abundant life
Think of the 5 ways as fingers. But the fingers can’t do much on their own.
Add a hand and join them up and things get useful.
Think of prayer as the hand that connects.

Our relationship with God here is vital, otherwise we just set ourselves a list of worthy tasks which may go some way to enhancing our wellbeing. But they can’t make us truly alive, abundantly alive.

Many of us are finding a new reality to our prayer lives at the moment.
But if this not so for you, maybe check out our friend Pete Greig’s Prayer Course if you’ve not done so already?

And use Nigel Paterson’s guide to Praying Through a Pandemic?

And maybe use the 5 Ways as a framework for prayer? Connecting with God in adoration, repentance, giving thanks and intercession; Learning from him in listening and study; Acting on what we hear; Noticing more of who he is in contemplation; and Giving our all in quiet service.
We can’t tack prayer onto the end of a To Do list. It’s not an optional appendix; it’s integral to who we are as disciples.

And hands can symbolise worship and prayer and work and caring.

We worship and pray with hands uplifted passively- loving God with all our being.
We work and care with hands engaged actively- loving our neighbours as ourselves.

In the words of Frances Ridley Havergal,
“… Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love… “

And check out the poem ‘These are the Hands’ written by former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen written for the 60th Anniversary of the NHS.

“I want men to offer prayers everywhere. They should raise their hands in prayer after putting aside their anger and any quarrels they have with anyone” (1 Timothy 2:8)

“Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2)

Here endeth the first epistle to the Clangers.
Second epistle (aka second Clangers) next time.
Angus Lyon