Pacing the floor? Unable to concentrate? Unproductive? Don’t worry, you are normal! Dear fellow missionaries, these are stressful times. We have heard  are aware of children (and adults) not sleeping well, children asking whether they will also be shot, pilots seeing terrible sights as they evacuate people.

We have seen horrible pictures on TV. We have been anxious about the safety of our employed staff and their families and heard about their houses being looted. We are concerned about refugees, ministries, and our own safety. We have been confined to our houses and have teenagers have been get restless. Supplies have run low. Work has been disrupted. The list could go on.

We at Tumaini Counselling Centre have considered thought aboutwondered what could help all of us increase your resilience at a time like this, check this articles for ideas and also the links at the bottom, as well as further resources on this website under Resources for Missionaries.

Here some ideas for starters:

– Be aware that you are under increased stress. It is therefore normal for you to be less productive, have difficulties concentrating, experience have minor physical ailments, be more susceptible to infections, have a shorter fuse, be less cheerful, and worry more.

– Don’t beat yourself up over these.

– Allow yourself and your kids to have fun;, you are not betraying the suffering when you switch off in between and just have a good laugh.

Allow youryour self (and your kids) to say no to being flooded with difficult stories, events, news and the like. It’s OKLearn how to say graciously that you have heard enough for now.

-Do be kind to yourself –, take the rest you need if possible, eat a nutritious diet, and exercise (varyingyou may vary your routine to fit the current circumstances as needed).

). Read your Bible and pray, but be aware that this that may also be more difficult – take small portions at a time.

– Play soothing music in the background.

– Make a party out of being housebound. Singles – being housebound together may be more enjoyable – easier, plan ahead.

– Work on long postponed projects like scrap books, journal, varnish that chair, do some mending.

– Enjoy small blessings consciously: a flower, a functioning generator, a cookie, a song…

For children:

– kKeepeep up the routine as much as possible in terms of time to get up, meals  and meal times. – – If there is no school, sit them down for abbreviated school work at home at the usual time and offer breaks and snacks as usual. But don’t forget to have celebrated breaks in the routine.  – Aa day in pyjamaspyjamas, friends over from the compound, sleepsleep overs, etc.

– Answer their questions and talk with them about what they see and hear. Don’t assume your silence will protect them. Even small children pick up parents’ worries – reassure them. As you do so, stick to the truth and don’t make promises you can’t keep.

– Keep them busy helping you.

– Apologize to them if you snapped at them or are distracted.

– Make music together or start another special project together.

– Pray with them for those you/ they are worried about.

– Be aware of the losses your children are experiencing, even though they may seem minor in comparison to Kenyans’ losses. (e.g.long anticipated school trips, vacations, or sports events and concerns about academics related to cancelled school.)

For teenagers:

-they tend to observe very keenly, this may be their first exposure to brutal violence close to home. Take time to address the questions they have including spiritual ones, also to just be available as they deal with shock and grief.

Also be aware that you are grieving:

– A lot has been lost in the current unrest. Many have lost homes, refuge, a way of life, health or even their lives. You may not have lost any of this, but may have lost a sense of peace, a sense of purpose, your ministry, your concept of what Kenya wasis.

– So As  you struggle to regroup, .don’t assume because your loss is less, that you won’t or don’t have reason to grieve.

– Allow for shock, numbness, anger, depression, wishing to be far away etc. All these are normal grief reactions.

– Your children may regress, e.g. start bed wetting or talk baby talk,, be clingy and so on.

– Don’t scold, but reassure them. Be as patient as possible.(if you can).

– Do ask for help – shared babybaby sitting, a phone call from supportive peoplehome, a chat or prayer time with a neighbour.

– Don’t isolate yourself.

– You may not feel the full impact until the crisis is over. Many of us go into a survival mode that helps us cope, and that is fine. But when the tension eases, some of the above may surface – make room for it. You are normal!

Those that have been in situations like this or worse before may find old memories surfacing now, making it harder to deal with the present. At some point you might want to seek further help, if this becomes distressing or interfering with the ability to function.

If symptoms of stress persist, e.g. ongoing bedwetting in a child, ongoing anger, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, etc. in adults, don’t hesitate to ask for professional help.

By Gisela Roth, MD, Tumaini Counselling Centre