Mental and Emotional Health for Preachers
Mental and Emotional Health for Preachers
In the last post we began looking at the issue of self-care for preachers who work in a time as stressful as this pandemic. Today we are going to look further at how to encourage mental and emotional health for preachers during a pandemic.
Mental/Emotional Health Continued
I used this space last time to make the case that you are mentally challenged if you are preaching during this pandemic. What do you do about that? How do you treat yourself kindly so that you are mentally healthy? I want to suggest several things:
Play Contributes to Mental and Emotional Health
I went to a counselor during a really low time for me. He was helpful in that he listened well, cared about the depression that was crushing me, and gave good advice. One piece of advice that he gave me, however, was a bit surprising. He said that I should do one thing every day that I do just because I enjoy it. I thought he was crazy. If you’ve ever been through a time of depression, you know that exhaustion usually accompanies the mental struggle.
I followed his advice. I chose some things that I love, and scheduled them in. One was just spending time listening to music that lifted me up. Michael Card was one philosopher/composer who was especially helpful to me during that time.
A second thing I did was go to museums. Though I sometimes had to drag myself out to go, I went, and found that there was always some way that I saw God at work in history or in nature. These visits helped me focus on something other than my problems.
This is one part of providing mental and emotional health for preachers while they are in a time of struggle. Find some things that bring you pleasure, and then go do them.
Laughter leads to Mental and Emotional Health
I am privileged to have a long-time friend who can make me laugh. Though at the time we lived in different parts of the country, I would call him (or he me), and since he is also in ministry, we had much to share. The focus was on the funny things that happen–and there are many funny things in ministry. Those calls helped me understand more fully what mental and emotional health for preachers looks like.
Here’s a list of things that laughter does that helps your mental and emotional health, according to studies that have been done. The full post is found at this link.
Laughter is good for your health
Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
Laughter burns calories. Okay, so it’s no replacement for going to the gym, but one study found that laughing for 10 to 15 minutes a day can burn approximately 40 calories—which could be enough to lose three or four pounds over the course of a year.
Laughter lightens anger’s heavy load. Nothing diffuses anger and conflict faster than a shared laugh. Looking at the funny side can put problems into perspective and enable you to move on from confrontations without holding onto bitterness or resentment.
Laughter may even help you to live longer. A study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor outlived those who don’t laugh as much. The difference was particularly notable for those battling cancer.
So find those things that make you laugh. Put in laughter and healing in your search engine, and you’ll find that people watched old movies like Laurel and Hardy, The Three Stooges, and other such old comics to engender laughter. Others read humorous books. Find out what tickles your funny bone, and then use it! Your mind and heart will be grateful.
One of the worst things we can do during a pandemic is to isolate ourselves. That is a natural response when we’re feeling down, but we need some people in our lives who will listen. People are essential to mental and emotional health for preachers who face stressful times. I’m going to explore this more fully in the next post, but here I want to note that counselors have been extremely helpful in the times of my ministry when I was down. There are some gifted people out there that can help you if you are really down. Please take the opportunity to call on them.
So next time we are going to look more fully at how to care for yourself by developing mental and emotional health for preachers like you. As we close this post, I want to share with you a song by Michael Card that explores how to survive what feels like the silence of God.