Coping with Depression, Anxiety, Grief and Loss
Here are a few suggestions everyone can use to better cope with the stressors associated with depression, anxiety, the loss of a loved one or with just life in general:
Practice Self-Care. Pay particular attention to your eating, sleeping and leisure, or “down” time. Factor in “downtime” each day. While it is okay to sometimes indulge in treats, try to balance with healthy meals. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated; limit your use of alcohol. Excessive use of alcohol will only increase your feelings of depression and helplessness.
Anticipate Stress. Plan an activity when things get stressful such as taking a 15-minute walk outside. Other suggestions to think about: stargaze at night, go to your favorite store and just look and browse, listen to soothing music, find a room or “safe space” in your home to read a book or magazine or to just decompress. Destressing can also include giving the gift of your time by volunteering at your place of worship, community center, soup kitchen, animal rescue center, etc.
Spend time with supportive friends, family members: Call a supportive friend or family member or your pastor on the phone and spend a few minutes to chat/talk. Use electronic platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, or Zoom to reach out and connect with others, particularly those who live far away. Contact someone you have not heard from in a while. Use this as an opportunity to talk, catch up. Consider using this time of the year to reach out and make new friends.
Practice Gratitude: Write a daily “gratitude list” and then offer thanks in thought, prayer, meditation on those things you are grateful for. Use this time to affirm the good things you have received. Use this time to acknowledge the role other people play in providing help and support in our daily lives. Practicing daily gratitude has been shown to improve one’s mental health.
It’s okay at times not to be ‘okay’: Feeling sad, lonely, or anxious are normal human emotions that everyone experiences. There is time for these feeling to be present. And there is time for giving yourself permission to take a break from these feelings.
If nothing is working, it is possible that you may be clinically depressed or anxious and may need professional help. Talking with a mental health professional or taking a mental health screening can help you better understand how you are coping with stress, depression, loss, grief. Or anxiety, and help you get on the path to a happier and healthier life.
Feel free to contact the Mental Health Association in Forsyth County at 336-768-3880 for information about depression, anxiety, and grief, and for referrals for help or information about their free support groups. You can take a free, confidential mental health screening on their website: www.triadmentalhealth.org.
Local/crisis mental health resources include the following that operate on a 24/7 basis:
Partners Health Management – 1-888-235-4673
Mobile Crisis Services (Daymark Recovery Services) – 1-866-275-9552
Old Vineyard Behavioral Health – 24/7 Assessment Line – 1-855-234-5920
For family support, family support groups, advocacy, consider the following local resource:
NAMI-NW Piedmont (National Alliance on Mental Illness) – NOT 24/7 – 336-744-0370
For those who want to offer support, but are not sure what to do, consider the following:
Provide empathy and support – Empathize with someone who has lost a loved one recently or who is struggling emotionally during this time. While we cannot “fix” their particular problems, we can offer a comforting, listening ear.
Share encouraging words on social media – Share encouraging words of hope online. You never know – your words might be the words someone needed to read and hear.
Offer words of hope during intercessory prayers at your church, synagogue, temple, house of worship: Using words such as “depression”, “anxiety”, “grief”, “mental health” during intercessory prayers lets people know that this is a safe place.
WISE Congregations for Mental Health : Welcoming – Inclusive – Supportive – Engaged
Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive, Engaging — W.I.S.E.
What is a WISE Congregation for Mental Health?
Parkway United Church of Christ W.I.S.E Covenant
WISE stands for “Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive, and Engaged.” The objective of the WISE designation is to encourage our congregation to be intentional about welcoming those living with mental health challenges and to expand our inclusion and support of all who are affected by them; but it is also to support and advocate for the general health and emotional well-being of our community.
Parkway UCC’s WISE Ministry commits to:
- Acknowledge during worship services mental health challenges through prayers, witness, and preaching;
- Offer periodic small group gatherings for support in the congregation to address anxiety, stress, and depression;
- Inform the congregation of developments and opportunities offered through the Mental Health Network of the United Church of Christ and the Western North Carolina Association;
- Host trainings such as Mental Health First Aid, suicide education and prevention (such as QPR – Question, Persuade, Refer), Mental Health 101 and other trainings;
- Convene educational and interactive forums and discussion groups in Parkway UCC’s space;
- Reduce the stigma of mental illness through building community partnerships with other faith communities and non-profits;
- Provide and maintain a list of available up-to-date mental health resources that can support persons living with mental illness and their loved ones;
- Advocate access to community, regional, state, and national resources available to individuals and their loved ones;
- Continue to educate and develop skills with W.I.S.E. team members and other PUCC WISE volunteers; and,
- Assess the status of W.I.S.E. ministry every 6 months; identify our strengths and areas on which we can improve.
W.I.S.E. Covenant Statement
Parkway United Church of Christ, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, offers a gift of acceptance to anyone who is in our presence. God’s love is unconditional, and we strive to demonstrate that kind of love to and with others. Mental Illness is as old as the universe and sometimes comes when we least expect it. Often it can be manifested through genetics and/or life experiences. It is impactful on others, sometimes in harmful ways. With mental illness comes a partner: It’s called stigma. Jesus interacted with many people suffering in this way and felt great compassion for those who were shunned by their families, friends, everyone.
Our hope with W.I. S. E. is to live in the moment with anyone who is struggling with a mental illness. Our intentions are to act on this covenant by acknowledging God’s presence in us which will enable us to listen with encouragement, gentleness, acceptance, knowledge, skill, and compassion.
We are not health care providers. Our pledge is to be fully present with our community as we strive to flourish, be honest about maintaining healthy boundaries, reduce stigma and increase access to care.
W.I.S.E. Team of Parkway United Church of Christ
Winston-Salem, North Carolina