“We have already become ‘a different sort of church’ in unprecedented ways. The very place in which the body of Christ finds its identity, offers prayer, and receives solace in time of crisis—that is, the church building—is not available to us…” So writes the Archbishop-designate of York, Bishop Stephen Cottrell. Our world, and our church, have been forced to make rapid adjustments and readjustments as the coronavirus has assaulted our world and our nation.

It is apparent that no part of our lives is left untouched. Every area of our physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual wellbeing has been impacted and it may well feel like we are struggling to keep up with the changes. We work from home. We eat at home. We shop online. We see our doctor on a screen. We catch up with our friends on zoom or WhatsApp, Skype and Facebook. We exercise with the help of YouTube videos. Words and phrases like “remote”, “social distancing”, isolation and lockdown roll off the tongue. We have imprinted on our brains and our phones: #Stay At Home.

We have indeed not only been forced to become a different sort of society but “a different sort of Church”.  And so, the Church will need to, and already is, finding new ways of gathering. There is zoom and live-streaming and video-recording of Holy Communion services as well as, for some, the daily offices of morning and evening prayer. And don’t forget the good old mailbox drop, containing a paper copy of the vicar’s sermon or the weekly pew sheet. Some are familiarising themselves with the theological idea of spiritual communion (see Liturgy and Prayers section). Others are either struggling to maintain a sense of connection with God and still others are taking the opportunity to value more extended times of prayer and rest. And which of these it is for each person may vary from day to day and even hour to hour. Nevertheless, everyone reading this now is at this moment expressing a heartfelt desire to stay connected, albeit at a physical distance, with others and with Christ. For we are, and remain, the Body of Christ whatever our physical, emotional and spiritual circumstances.

We hope that the resources included here in the Wellbeing section will help you navigate some of the challenges ahead and will contribute to building and maintaining your resilience in uncertain and anxious times. Right now, Christians are challenged to live out and recognise, enjoy and proclaim the joy of the glorious light of resurrection life in new and different ways. This is not easy. This strange crisis of COVID-19 will end eventually, but we know the world is always changing, and there will be new challenges that arise. In the midst of that there is one ongoing certainty- we are embraced by, and enfolded in, the loving arms of God.  And in that assurance we, who know deeply what it is to be loved by God, can journey with Christ as his true, albeit faltering, disciples.

There are many interrelated factors that influence our wellbeing: the practical ones we all know about such as sufficient sleep, nutritional diet, fun hobbies, regular exercise, enjoyable career, enough money etc. (more detail can be found on the betterhealth.vic.gov.au website). Unfortunately, some of these are being affected by the current COVID 19 circumstances and we have to work harder on them than in the past. However, key factors such as fulfilling relationships, friendship networks, a sense of purpose and meaning, spiritual or religious beliefs and practices, and a sense of belonging, are not only possible to hold onto, but also can be enhanced at this time. Physical distancing may be the buzz phrase, but loving and lively relationships with God and others are central to our overall wellbeing.  Not only that, but as research over many decades has shown, they contribute to our physical and mental health.

In the sections below the wellbeing factors are divided into five sections.  All are important, interrelated, and contribute to overall wellbeing, which is God’s desire for all of us. One title of God is Yahweh-shalom (Judges 6:24) – The God of wellbeing.  God makes a covenant of wellbeing, “a covenant of shalom that shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you” (Isaiah 54:10). 

Initial suggestions and resources below may be added to in the coming weeks. There is inevitably some overlap between the sections so have a good browse!


These aspects of our lives are closely linked. Living with COVID-19 is extremely challenging for us all, spiritually and psychologically. We invite you to engage with, and share with others, the following resources which address both these aspects of our lives:

  • A series of 13 mental health reflections from the Church of England. This excellent booklet, written by Professor Chris Cook, with “Have a go” habits contributed by Ruth Rice, contains material to provide hope, reassurance and comfort. Each “day” contains a bible passage followed by a reflection on this in light of an emotion that may be negatively impacting on our mental health, and an encouragement to “practice” effective habits.
  • Clergy and A(S)LMs have particular stresses placed upon them as they seek to lead communities that are themselves stressed and stretched in adjusting to being Church in new ways. A valuable resource on spiritual and emotional well-being for clergy and Lay Ministers is found here.
  • Watch Grant Bickerton ’s YouTube video here on managing Covid-19 anxiety from a Christian faith and psychological perspective.
  • Bishop Lindsay Urwin OGS, Vicar of Christ Church, Brunswick, has some excellent talks. See their website for links.
  • This link from Trinity College Theological School takes you to some helpful biblical and theological reflections on what it means for us to be living in this time of crisis.
  • ‘Trauma-Informed Ministry for times like these…’ webinar hosted by Bishop Kate Prowd, with Revd Hilary Ison and Revd Dr. Carla A. Grosch-Miller on 18 August 2020. To see the video click here.
  • Acedia: A helpful article describing spiritually, the flat and listless emotions we may be experiencing during the pandemic
  • Often when we feel anxious and stressed, being resourceful can be a challenge in ministry. This document offers “100 ideas” for clergy and lay leaders to be creative in ministry during COVID-19: 

Prayer always needs us to be open and honest with God, and at this time particularly, when we may be gripped by fluctuating emotions of fear, anxiety and sadness. The following two articles address this. The first is written by the Rev Rico Villanueva. The second is a post from Richard Rohr, who talks about the importance of practising lamentation as a way of being open with God, like the psalmists. As he says, this is a way of nurturing our emotional and spiritual resilience.

This episode of the “God Forbid” podcast: “Living Through Lament” (3rd May), examines grief in the midst of calamity and change. 


It can be hard for Christians, who may be thinking to themselves that if they feel afraid or worried, this is because their faith is not mature or deep enough. It is true that many times we read in the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament that God reminds us “not to worry”. But we do worry! That’s normal. It’s part of being human. Perhaps when we hear the words: “Do not worry”, it is more a reminder that God is saying to us: “I know you are worried, but I am here for you. You are never alone.” [Matthew 28 v20 Jesus said, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age”].

What follows are some additional resources and ideas to those in Section 1 about how to attend to mental health and wellbeing in an intentional way.

  • Guidance on mental health and wellbeing and Coronavirus from the Church of England website here.
  • Stress, Anxiety & Depression:
    Stress, anxiety and even depression are normal at a time like this, when our life as we have known it has been turned upside down. We are adapting and adjusting on a daily basis and it’s difficult to keep up with the changes.

    Our mood can change too. What we might ordinarily cope with can become the reason to feel more stressed and anxious. Or we may find ourselves feeling lower in mood, and more fatigued and not very motivated.

    Sometimes we want to check how well we are coping, and also to check how anxious and depressed we are. There are some helpful places and websites to go to for this. Two organisations in particular that provide excellent information on mental health including self-assessment are;

  1. The Black Dog Institute
  2. Beyond Blue is a very well-known organisation where, as well as mental health resources, you can get immediate support; and
  3. A third organisation to know about is Lifeline. This is a 24-hour phone service to assist with personal crises: 13 11 14

The Australian Psychological Society (APS) provides useful tips sheets found here to help both adults and children manage the anxiety that can be caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Topics covered include COVID-19 anxiety and staying mentally healthy (for older adults), Tips for coping with coronavirus anxiety, & Maintaining your mental health during social isolation.

  • Tips for coping with coronavirus anxiety:
    It is understandable that anxiety levels in the community will rise as the number of coronavirus cases increase across the nation, and globally. Normal life as we have known it has ended. Stress and anxiety are a normal response to something as significant as this coronavirus pandemic. It is important therefore to develop strategies for managing stress, to help prevent it from developing into something more severe.

    “Anticipatory Grief” can occur when we have a sense of fearful anticipation. We sense that the world around us has changed and there is grief associated with this loss, but we’re unsure what this loss entails.

    Sam Dylan Finch has written a helpful article, titled “How “Anticipatory Grief” May Show Up During the COVID-19 Outbreak”.

    “Disenfranchised Grief” is the experience of loss that may not be recognised, either by the person or by others. This article is a helpful reference to the ways in which we may be experiencing disenfranchised grief during the pandemic.

  • Referral Pathways:
    There are many different ways that people can access support if they are experiencing emotional or psychological distress. Making the decision to access support takes a considerable amount of courage, and acting on that decision can be hard. It can often be confusing and overwhelming trying to make sense of the different options, and which option might be best in a particular situation. Click here for some information that will hopefully make the process of finding the best support service slightly easier.
  • Building Resilience:
    The Viennese psychiatrist Viktor Frankl wrote Man’s Search for Meaning; an account of his experiences in Nazi concentration camps during WW2. In reflecting on why some people in the concentration camp survived and others did not, he concluded that although there are situations and events that happen in life over which we have no control, or lose control, the ability to choose how we respond to any set of circumstances is never taken away. Frankl is describing resilience – the ability to cope with and adapt to the various changes and challenges that occur in our lives. By building resilience, we strengthen our mental capacity to cope robustly with the unexpected. View the following articles and resources on resilience: 

Click here for an article on adapting to life with COVID-19, and the accompanying pressures that can be placed upon us/we place upon ourselves to be productive. The author reminds us that we are in a marathon not a sprint!

Click here for an article by David Williams, a Melbourne Anglican priest who trains CMS missionaries at St Andrew’s Hall, wrote this article on Culture Shock and COVID-19. 

“Tragedy and Congregations” is a UK project with the purpose of resourcing churches to respond in a healthy way to the impact of tragedies, local and global, through training ordinands in good practice, careful reflection, and personal resilience. This letter from one of the project’s researchers, the Rev Dr.Carla Grosch-Miller. She wrote to her congregation in response to COVID-19.


With job losses, industry shutdowns, the ceasing of leisure and sporting activities caused by social distancing, our usual routines are significantly disrupted. This means that we ourselves need to find ways to structure our days and even each hour sometimes. Making a list at the start of the day or even the night before about what you plan to do for the day can be helpful, and ensuring a balance of types of activities.

Staying calm and keeping connected are two wellbeing practices that are key to managing the challenges of COVID-19.  In this document the Brotherhood of St. Laurence chaplains have outlined ways to do this. Very helpful reading!

If you are working from home, the Brotherhood of St. Laurence chaplains have also provided some helpful practices for attending to wellbeing and self-care for working off-site. They have given permission to adapt their guidelines for ADoM website. There are some excellent strategies here


Exercise remains important for our mental and physical health. Be intentional about diarising exercise into your day.  You may want to try some online YouTube classes (e.g., Pilates or Zumba). Or even find some dance music to move to; this can be great cardiovascular exercise! Incidental exercise can happen when gardening outside or doing the housework! Daily walks or jogs outside the home help to break up the daily routine.

Sleep is very important for our ongoing health. Try to keep regular bedtimes and waking times. This also helps to create structure to your day. Here are some basic ‘sleep hygiene’ rules that can assist with sleep. On this website there are some helpful resources on this.

This Centre for Clinical Interventions website is an excellent one for self-help mental health resources generally. 


Self-care often “earns” our attention only after we’ve addressed everything else. There is a risk to our health however, if we neglect this. Think about when we are sitting in a plane, and waiting for take-off. The air steward runs us through the required safety tips for flying. When it comes to instructing about the use of the face mask in an emergency, we are told to place our own mask on first before attending to the needs of any others in our care. Whilst we are not in a plane (and DEFINITELY not at this time!), we do need to pay attention to our own needs in order that we can meet the needs of those we love and serve. 

Sometimes something as simple, and yet essential as “taking a Sabbath” is a challenge. Even more so in a global pandemic, when the usual choices for recreation are not available to us, and the structure of our days tend to look so similar. It’s worth asking yourself: What activities did I engage in before COVID-19, which gave me meaning and purpose? What used to “get me up in the morning”?

  • Here are some tips for taking a day off.
  • And for those who are working off-site: 
    • BSL: The Brotherhood of St. Laurence chaplains has provided some helpful practices for attending to wellbeing and self-care for working off-site. They have given permission to adapt their guidelines for ADoM website found here.
    • ADOM’s PVAW (Preventing Violence Against Women) team emphasizes the imperative to look after ourselves and each other as we move to working from home. Here are some practical resources:  
        • Wellness plan template: Sometimes when you feel low, it is hard to think creatively about what you enjoy doing, and what brings you life, so it can be helpful to put aside time to do this beforehand. 
        • Top tips for working from home: Some of this can be personal so take a look and see if there is anything that could be useful to you.

Websites that have been particularly helpful in gathering resources on COVID-19 and Wellbeing: 

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