Long hours, juggling multiple deadlines from several departments all while feeling isolated because—let’s face it—no one truly understands your job?
Recipe. For. Burnout.
“Try self-care,” they said. “It will be easy,” they said.
You are already feeling like you don’t have control over your work (deadlines, workload, responsibilities) and chances are you don’t see any hope of change in your high-stress situation. Burnout and compassion fatigue are real threats to your life as a church communicator.
And Mr. Self-Care comes with a reputation for being time-consuming, selfish, and expensive.
By now, you’ve decided it’s not worth the trouble. It’s better to just keep swimming.
For a second, let’s entertain the idea that self-care doesn’t have to cost a penny and you don’t have to choke down kale to do it.
Trust me. At least on the kale part.
Don’t believe me?
3 Self-Care Tips
Let me share three self-care tips that could change your life, and they don’t require any extra time, money, or kale smoothies.
1. Transitioning To/From Work
During the commute to and from work, you probably listen to music, podcasts, or talk on the phone (hands free, of course).
The drive is consumed with thoughts of your to-do list, difficult decisions that need to be made, and the many conversations and meetings that will need to take place.
Many people describe their commutes to be filled with worry about the future or concern about the past.
I challenge you to take back your commute time for self-care.
An easy way to remember what to do is that anytime you are on the way to somewhere (work or an event) you listen to music and uplifting messages.
Use the time to be built up and encouraged.
Remember who you are in Christ.
On the way back home, turn everything off.
Use the silence in the car to settle your mind from the busyness of the day, close the book on work and the to-do list, and reflect on your day and time.
This time of peace and quiet will be refreshing after a busy and often stressful day.
Use this time to talk to God or to simply enjoy the quiet.
At first, it might feel awkward because we are so used to noise, but soon you will be craving the quiet trip home.
2. Meeting Your Physical Needs
We are talking about eating and going to the bathroom here, people.
Yep, it doesn’t get more basic than that.
But how many of you withhold these basic needs because of deadlines, meetings, or the needs of others?
All the hands go up.
Good quality food is essential to fueling your body as you work in your demanding field.
I don’t know about you, but I often hit the ground running every morning and I struggle to stop for lunch as the emails, voicemails, and people demands start to pile up.
But, when you sit down for lunch you are accomplishing three things:
- You are stopping your work and allowing your body and mind a break from the needs of others.
- You are eating something healthy and nutritious to give fuel for the rest of the day.
- When you pray before your meal, you are re-centering your mind and thoughts on Christ.
Eating lunch is more than just grabbing a quick bite.
It is an opportunity to stop, refuel, and center yourself in the middle of the day.
3. Adjusting Technology
I feel like I’m preaching to the choir here when I say technology is meant to serve you, not enslave you.
Take advantage of opportunities to customize settings and turn off notifications.
You become in control of when and how often you check and respond to emails, texts, and phone calls.
Don’t keep your email open after you finish checking it. Close the app down.
When you are focused on a task, turn your phone ringer off. Have your cell out of sight so you can’t see notifications.
I assume your role in communication depends on being available quickly and easily for troubleshooting or last-minute requests or project changes, but try to carve out some time in your day when you are able to focus and work undisturbed on a task.
You will feel calmer and in control of your work and mind when you remove devices that are demanding your attention.
Remember: Multitasking is a myth. Multitasking is described as “highly inefficient and potentially dangerous to your health” by David Meyer, one of the country’s leading experts on multitasking and a cognitive scientist at the University of Michigan.
Even the most adept multitasker will “crash and burn” trying to resolve simultaneous conflicting demands.
As a self-care practice, turn off the notifications and control when you check your emails, voicemails, and texts.
The messages will be there when you are done, the emails won’t be going anywhere.
This Is a Must
As a communicator, you are the caretaker of people’s stories and messages.
You hear of pain and freedom, suffering and joy.
You are a witness into people’s lives and communicate compassion, empathy, and hope to your community.
On the other hand, compassion fatigue is emotional and physical exhaustion from the work of caring for others. Your levels of burnout and compassion fatigue may be higher than you’d imagine, and that can affect your day to day work—not to mention your overall health and well-being.
Self-care is a must-have for everyone.
So let’s destroy the lie that it takes time, money, and is selfish.
- Self-care is about remaining healthy in ministry and in life.
- Self-care is seeing yourself as God sees you—precious and valuable.
- Self-care can fit into your already busy life and schedule.
All it takes is being intentional with the time you already have.
This month we’re sharing self-care resources for our Courageous Storytellers members, including another resource from Laura Howe exploring five habits for maintaining mental health. This is a good time to look into membership and consider joining.
Laura Howe wrote this originally at Church Marketing Sucks .