How are your stress levels these days? I mean are your concentration, level of joy, decision-making ability, discernment, anxiety, anger and sense of inner peace where they should be? If you have noticed that one or more of these are different than what they were, say, three months ago, then it is a sign that you are experiencing stress.
There is nothing wrong with that. We are living in stressful times. However, when we allow our stress levels to remain high for too long, we deplete our energies and even run the risk of burn out. Now is the time to do something about it—before that happens. We cannot remove the COVID-19 crisis, a major cause of this stress, but we can mitigate its effect.
What can you do to stay healthy?
- Keep a healthy diet and exercising
- Give yourself permission to take breaks more often
- Have some fun (laughter is always good medicine)
- Read material that is unrelated to ministry
- Learn to say no—after all, even Jesus said no! (Mark 1: 35-39, John 7: 1-9)
- Making time for self-reflection
- Do relaxation exercises are ways to decrease our levels of stress.
As ministry leaders, it is important to remain centred on your hope, to practice gratitude, to exercise kindness to yourself and others, and to rely on your faith.
Help When You Need It
Finding it very difficult to focus on any of the items in the previous paragraph may be an indication that you are near burnout. Other possible signs are regularly feeling overwhelmed, tired, depressed, irritable, impatient, worried and anxious, fearful, experiencing headaches and stomach problems, and not caring that you neglect your work and appearance.
If these symptoms apply to you, do not wait; I implore you to speak to someone. While it may be difficult to do, there is no shame revealing to your physician or a therapist what is happening inside of you. It is the right thing to do.
Your church cares about you and wants you healthy. That is why it provides for you to access the confidential Employee Assistance Programme (1-800-387-4765) and counseling through your medical benefits. Your people know that an unhealthy pastor cannot offer healthy and effective leadership.
The last two months have been stressful as you have had to learn how minister to your congregation in different ways. Soon, you will face more challenges as the government relaxes the rules of confinement. Do not wait to take stock of your stress level until later. Your church needs you healthy!
As you reflect on your stress level, perhaps there is an invitation from God to develop healthier work rhythms, reach out to a colleague pastor to have a heart to heart, or even develop an intimate soul level prayer group where you can be honest with God and each other.
Finally, consider joining the Soul Care Day for Pastors on June 11, 2020. Let God meet you where you are. It will be time well spent.
CBOQ’s Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is confidential and provided by Morneau Shepell. You can find insightful articles on stress and other topics on their website, https://www.workhealthlife.com/