Self care and continuing education

Self care and continuing education

It is especially important that we look after ourselves at this time so that we can look after others.  Here are some thoughts, noting that everything that I say has to be read within changing government restrictions. 

Spiritual well being

A change in routine may disrupt your current spiritual practices, such as prayer and personal Bible reading.  Make sure that you keep these up.  Routine is important.  If you don’t have regular times and practices, now is a time to pick them up, not only to nourish your soul but to build structure into you day and week.

Physical well being

The healthier you are physically, the more able you are to cope with increased stress and the actual possibility of contracting COVID-19.

  • Diet: Spending much more time at home, coupled with reduced choice due to panic-buying, may mean that your diet is restricted (eg limited fresh fruit & veg).  Do all that you can to maintain a healthy diet.
  • Similarly, being at home longer hours and under stress may lead to increasing consumption of alcohol and caffeine.  Please self-monitor.
  • Exercise: With gyms closed and being at home, there is much less opportunity to exercise.  Even if you don’t have a regular exercise pattern, you will be getting less “incidental exercise”, such as walking around shopping centres or to public transport.  Now is the time maintain or even increase your exercise.  Some simple tips:
  • When on the phone at home, walk around the house or backyard while talking.
  • Recognising physical distancing, go for a walk around the block or local park.  Even small amounts can make a big difference.
  • Do some overdue gardening or mowing.

Well being while working at home

We are all spending much more time at our desks, either on Zoom/Skype or preparing resources.

Emotional & mental well being

  • Work routine: I’ve already mentioned the importance of a spiritual routine.  Having a work routine is also important.  Set yourself working hours and time boundaries.  One minister has already told me that he realised that the online world can creep into every hour.
  • Social connection: The language of “social distancing” has some unfortunate overtones.  While we need physical distancing, we actually need social connection.  Reach out to people on the phone, such as friends and family who will be a support, as well as pay attention to how you are relating to those in your household.  Ministers who live alone need to be especially careful in this area.

Continuing Education for Ministry (CEM)

Don’t neglect your CEM during the coming months.  In the short-term, you may want to focus on equipping yourself for the current crisis.  As we go on, take this time of confinement as the opportunity to undertake some on-line learning.  Here some examples.

  • We are working urgently to roll out “How to” training for people as we all scramble to deliver worship and grow community online or by other means.  More details very soon!
  • Zoom provides lots of training and resources to use this tool, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • The Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy Network (DRCN) will very soon be offering online sessions, adapting their focus to this different kind of disaster.
  • The Oates Institute in the US is a highly reputable spiritual and pastoral care institution that has been delivering online leaning for many years.  A number of UCA ministers have undertaken their training and recommend them.
  • The Interim Ministry Network (IMN) in Baltimore has a series of “virtual cafes”.  These are live discussions on key topics.  I have done a couple and found them helpful.  It does mean getting up early!  Note: The IMN is our partner in Fundamentals of Transitional Ministry Training (FTM).
  • All those books on your shelf that you were gong to read one day?  Do it now.  Form a group to discuss books or other resources online.

Rev. Dr Rob McFarlane is Presbytery Ministry Leader for Parramatta Nepean Presbytery

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