“Faith Over Fear” is the guiding principle we need to adopt as we encounter these uncertain times. As pastors, we need to focus on our own self-care so that we can be the best pastors we can be for the sake of ourselves, our families, our friends, our co-workers. our leaders, our congregations and schools and the community around us. As the COVID-19 virus spreads and we have to shelter in place, here are some suggestion to keep yourself healthy.
1. Physical Care. Wash your hands frequently (at least 20 seconds while saying or singing Amazing Grace or Happy Birthday twice). Keep physical distance from others (6 feet apart). Exercise. Go for a walk. Go for a bike ride. Lift some 3 or 5 lb. weights while watching TV. Get lots of sleep. Eat healthy meals. Take your medications on time. Stretch and stay limber. Step outside and breathe the fresh air.
2. Emotional Care. Become a “non-anxious presence.” Keep your immune system healthy by laughing, playing, watching comedy content, be glad in the Lord as the Scriptures say. When feeling anxious, sad or frustrated, talk with someone like a therapist or a trusted friend or colleague. Limit watching COVID-19 news to ten minutes per day. Remember the four types of emotions are “glad, sad, mad and scared.” When sad, mad or scared, take a deep breath and calm yourself. Remain calm and settle down.
3. Spiritual Care. Pray and have personal devotions daily. Ask the Lord for help and tell Him your concerns. Do personal Bible study (e.g. read through the Psalms). Ask God for grace and mercy. Confess your transgressions. Ask for forgiveness.
Meditate on the Word. Listen to Christian music and music that lifts your soul.
4. Relationship Care. Ask your spouse for support. Ask your kids to play with you. Resolve any tensions with your spouse. Share your joys, fears, anxieties etc. with your spouse. Take a walk together.
5. Other Care practices. Do stress redu
ction exercises. Breathing is known to reduce stress. Try the 4-7-8 breathing technique: breathe in through your nose with your mouth closed for 4 seconds, then hold this breath for 7 seconds Then exhale the out breath through your lips, pursing your lips together like blowing a trumpet for 8 seconds. Then repeat this 4-7-8 breathing exercise two more times. It calms the body and mind. Work on a puzzle, Read a good book Perhaps you might read “Clergy Self Care” by Roy M. Oswald or use the Wholeness Wheel from the LCMS website (https://www.concordiaplans.org/ wellness/ministerial-care.html).
There are many other ways to support your self- care. Start a garden or bake cookies. Learn a new language or go online and study a new subject. Listen to one of the Great Courses from the internet. Clean a closet or your garage. Work on a project. Play a game online. Work on something you have always wanted to do but never had time to do it.
God's blessings to you and your families. Stay safe and be well.
One Minute is written by Pastor Ron Rehrer, Counselor for Church Workers of the PSD, Mobile phone 949.433.5182; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org