According to a 2007 study conducted by the American Psychological Association, some three quarters of Americans experience stress in a given month. One third of Americans feel they are living with extreme stress, and a little under half (48%) of Americans felt at the time of the study that their stress levels had increased over the previous five years. While these statistics may be a bit outdated, the fact remains the same: stress and stress related issues affect most Americans at some point in their lives.
Go to work. Take care of the kids (our own and/or the children placed in our care). Take out the trash. Pay those bills. And so the drill runs. Far too many of us have an incredible amount of responsibilities in our lives. In the process of taking care of these responsibilities, all too often we forget to take care of ourselves. This and this alone leads to elevated levels of stress, burnout in ministry, and eventually an inability to complete the abundance of tasks set before us.
We hope to encourage healthy self-care through providing resources and suggestions to better control and manage stress.
Here are a few brief suggestions for taking care of yourself and managing stress:
- Spending time alone. Whether you are introvert or an extrovert, spending time alone is an important part of taking care of yourself. Meditation, quiet self-reflection, and prayer are just a few of the beneficial ways in which time alone can be spent.
- Taking a break from stressful situations. If work is stressful, take time out to do something else, such as exercise or reading a good book. Removing yourself from the stressful situation will help you to refocus and return to the problem or situation at a later date with a fresh outlook.
Self Care Resources
Suzanne E. Harrell. Self-care Tips: 60 Ways to Nurture Myself. An excellent resource with suggestions for self-care.
North Carolina State University Counseling Center. Resources for Self-Care and Wellness. Discusses the three main components of self care (physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual) and dispels some commonly held rumors about self care such as:
- Isn’t it selfish to put myself first?
- Self care has to be done alone
- Taking time for self care is too much of a commitment
Fuller Youth Institute. Urban Youth Ministry Self-Care Toolkit. Specifically designed for urban youth pastors and other leaders working with youth in an urban setting, this excellent and important resource deals with the issue of finding rest in a 24/7 city and finding time for Sabbath Rest.
Peter Scazzero. The Emotionally Healthy Church. This book provides you with an important opportunity to reflect on where you are as a disciple of Jesus Christ, designed for both individuals and churches. The related Emotionally Healthy Spirituality website offers further resources. Other resources from Peter Scazzero include his blog, which includes continued insight into prayer, rest, relationships and work.