Rev. Dr. Chris Adams is the executive director of the Center for Vocational Ministry at Azusa Pacific Seminary. He offered the following thoughts at a meeting of people from several denominations who care for pastors. He provided permission to share these thoughts with you.
- Give yourself permission to be a person, and have your own fears and anxieties.
- Keep perspective.
- God is with us, no matter what happens.
- View difficulties as challenges, rather than threats.
- Focus on what is in your control.
- Remind yourself that this is time limited. The worst of the Coronavirus is likely to pass in several weeks.
- While this situation is quite serious, there are worse ongoing epidemics in the U.S. that we can also do something about, i.e. obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
- We are privileged to live in the U.S. with enormous resources; other parts of the world are not as fortunate.
- When there are unknowns, our brains tend to fill in the unknown with the worst case scenario. Resist the tendency to catastrophize, and focus on the known facts.
- Reflect on a healthy theology of suffering.
- We cannot grieve what we have not named. Acknowledge loss and grief for yourself and others, including anticipatory grief, and help create meaning and rituals to process through the grief. Practice lament.
- Make sure to take regular breaks away from crisis response and completely focus on something else.
- Exercise every day for at least 20 minutes, at least at a moderate level of intensity.
- Spend some time outside everyday.
- Practice a relaxation exercise regularly, such as deep breathing. For example, the 4-7-8 exercise. Breath in through your nose to slow count of four…hold the breath for a slow count of 7…exhale through your mouth for a slow count of 8…repeat 4 times.
- Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol use.
- Limit the amount of news and social media you consume. Too much exposure can exacerbate anxiety and create vicarious trauma.
- Make sure to get as much sleep as possible, and return to an average of 7-9 hours per night as soon as possible.
- Recognize the anxiety triggers in your own life that may be activated by this crisis, and invite God into your fears.
- Reach out for support frequently from family, close personal friends, and clergy peers.
- Ask for help and delegate some pastoral care. Use this as a community building opportunity.
What a great post! I also found this resource helpful especially #10:
Remember that you, too, are a finite and limited creature. Tend to your own needs. Lean into your own community for support. And take turns with others giving care. It is tempting to believe in a crisis that we must give or do everything right now. Mostly this is not possible. Sabbath is not a luxury. Self-care is not selfish. As this outbreak continues to unfold, take steps to renew your own energy and hope in the Spirit of God.
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