Over the last two years, stress has become a constant challenge among ministry leaders. However, employing effective coping strategies can be an essential tool for boosting mental health and preventing burnout.
1. Establish a clear role description
Leaders often face competing priorities. First, there are essential tasks needing attention weekly and monthly. Then there are annual goals and targets to meet. On top of that, many people and situational crises crop up, which can quickly overtake more significant objectives.
It is pretty common in churches and non-profit organizations to have loosely-held role descriptions that change depending on the day’s situation.
Become crystal clear on your role responsibilities, making sure they are deeply rooted in the organization’s mission, vision and values. Doing so can significantly decrease stress.
2. Start and end your day right
In John 15:5, Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing.”
Begin and end your day in communion with Jesus. Speak to God and take time to listen to His Spirit. Read and memorize Scripture. Recite Scripture anytime you need reminding of who God is and who you are as His child. In this way, you preach to yourself.
3. Develop healthy habits
Regular exercise, eating well and getting enough sleep are all habits we know we should implement. Yet, many leaders neglect their physical health, directly impacting their mental health.
Take breaks throughout the day. Get up and move around. Take a walk during your lunch break, and do so in nature whenever possible. Focus on what you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel. By getting into your body and out of your head, you give yourself the gift of mental rest, even for a few moments. This mental re-set can make a significant difference in your stress levels.
4. Recognize what you can control
Much stress originates from rehashing the past and projecting into the future, neither of which you can control. By becoming aware of what is within your control and what is not, you can avoid much stress.
A simple yet effective practice is breaking tasks and responsibilities into small, manageable, and actionable pieces you can easily accomplish.
5. Embrace quiet solitude
Isolation is a substantial pandemic predicament. To cope, many people fill their lives with noise and distractions, causing what is known as mental fragmentation, which leads to languishing and a lack of well-being. We are created for relationships, but overstimulation from scrolling social media feeds is a poor substitute for meaningful connection.
By embracing quiet spaces, the chaos in your mind can begin to subside, allowing you to connect richly with the One who created you. In addition, intentionally choosing solitude can make you more receptive to God’s presence and give you the peace you seek.