According to a New York Times article*, members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. Their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. So that’s the bad news. The good news is we have the power to create a different reality.
So what is the reason for these statistics among those whose primary focus is to support others in living their highest and best lives? Like many among the helping professions, we are drawn to this work out of a desire to support, uplift, inspire and nurture people. It’s just that we often forget we are one of those people.
Charles Fillmore said, “I fairly sizzle with zeal and enthusiasm and spring forth with a mighty faith to do the things that ought to be done by me.” Notice he didn’t say to do the things someone else could do or that may not need to be done at all. And maybe what needs to be done is to take time for rest and renewal. Both he and Jesus were living examples of taking time to pray, sit in the silence, go apart. They insisted upon it.
The key to good self-care is the ability to set boundaries. Good boundaries create a stable foundation to operate from so you are not distracted by outside chatter and the drama of the human condition. You are able to tune in, let go, let Spirit do the work and ask how you can empower others instead of taking care of them. It supports you in showing up rested, centered, self-aware and with a greater capacity to offer empathy and love to others.
One way to do this is to consider taking a Sabbath day. Set aside a regular day of the week that is your “sacred day.” Let your staff, your friends and your family know that this is a day of rest, renewal and silence and you will be “unplugged.” No cell phone, no social media, no electronics. Set “away” messages and find a back-up for emergencies. Make this your day—meditate, bird watch, paint, write, dance, learn a new language, study ancient history, go to the park with a friend or play with a child. Whatever it is that makes your heart sing and reconnects your soul. If we are to transform this world, every one of us needs to be inspired, centered and vibrant. So take time for you. Like Charles and Jesus, insist on it.
*Taking A Break From The Lord’s Work by Paul Vitello; published August 1, 2010