Sources of support
The pressures on those who minister are well known. It can be hard to regulate working hours and to know whether you’re ‘at work’ or not. The pressures are often felt by ministers’ partners, children and wider family and friendship networks and can be unseen by others.
There are a number of sources of support that exist to help support your wellbeing in your ministry.
The Diocese of Liverpool actively encourages all licensed ministers to care for their wellbeing and has signed up to the Charter for Employers Who Are Positive About Mental Health and so aims to provide non-judgemental and proactive support to individual staff who experience mental health issues.
It has long been recognised that there is no one single way to deal with the pressures of ministry, but it is important to develop a pattern of prayer, work and rest which works best for you. However, there are some simple steps that can help
Look after your physical health
Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and can help you concentrate, sleep, and look and feel better. Exercise keeps the brain and your other vital organs healthy and is also a significant benefit of improving your mental health. Eat well, a balanced diet is needed by your brain in order to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body. A diet that’s good for your physical health is also good for your mental health.
Take your days off and holidays
We know that clergy regularly don’t stop working on their days off. It is often the case that you plan a day off and then end up working anyway when there is a knock at the door “I know it’s your day off but…” Be disciplined with yourself. Block time off in your diary and take it. Make yourself accountable to someone – a friend or family member that will remind you to switch your brain off from ministry matters, especially when you are on holiday.
Find things to do that you love outside of ministry
Get a hobby. Even a couple of hours a week thinking about something else will be beneficial and reduce stress.
Develop a good network of friends
They don’t all have to be clergy! There is evidence to suggest that a wider social network has a positive impact on your mental wellbeing.
Ask for help and support if you need it
You are often the person that other people turn to for help and it is easy to end up carrying everyone else’s burdens. Who is there to support you? Know that help is out there if you need it. The Clergy Support Trust can provide funding opportunities. Whatever the issue that you are struggling with you can contact your Area Dean, Archdeacon or Lifelong Learning and we can point you in the right direction to access the support you need. Additionally, The Revd Martin Thorpe has recently been appointed Bishop's Adviser on Clergy Well Being and he would be pleased to direct you to support if you need it - contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org.