So, a few responses to my post last week about running on empty. Thank you to those who wrote. The responses all tended to ask the same question: how, recognising that we're depleted emotionally, do we recharge? We, for the most part, know how to do this spiritually and physically, but emotionally....? Short answer: I'm not too sure myself and I'm working through it. But here, for what it's worth, are my initial observations. These are not particularly biblical, or even from years of experience. They are simply things that I'm finding useful in the moment.
- I've had to recognise that the emotional is not separate from the physical, nor the spiritual. I am a whole man! Everything is connected to everything. At one level, emotional energy is spiritual energy is physical energy. So, taking care of my physical and spiritual self has vast benefits for my emtional self.
- Sleep is a remarkable restorative for every part of life. I have found CJ Mahaney's sermon on this particularly useful.
- I find that being disciplined about planning times for things I enjoy has helped me enormously. I don't know if there's any science behind this, but lack of emotional energy has meant that I have not been able to be joyful about things, so I decided to try to restore some of that energy by planning....well, enjoyable things.
- Intimacy in relationships is important. For marrieds that means sex and time with spouse (these go together!). But there is intimacy (of the right sort) in all kinds of relationships. I've planned a day at the British Museum with a good friend. I already know it will be emotionally recharging.
- A break is important. Next week is our school half term and I've planned some time away. I'm going to disconnect my iPhone's work email account. So there.
- I've tried to build in some escapism. That sounds pretty dodgy, so let me explain. Ministry is emotionally draining and all encompassing. I find it quite hard to read a Christian book, for example, without thinking about whom it might also be suitable for in the congregation or which fellow pastor might benefit. I need a break from that. So, a good fiction book I can lose myself in (or a series) or a suitable TV series (Mrs R and I have been watching Borgen) helps me switch off from emotional outgoings and, it seems, helps with the ingoings.
You'll have other ideas, and much more spiritual ones (this is deliberately not a biblical post). Just don't ignore the issue....