Stress taxes the mind, body, and spirit. It can rob us of our productivity and joy.
What is it that stresses you the most in your day to day work and ministry?
- Overload – too much to do in the time allotted?
- Frequent interruptions when you’re trying to prepare a sermon?
- Negative comments from a dissatisfied parishioner?
- Difficulty moving forward with an agenda because someone invariably has an objection?
Step one in reducing or managing your stress? Master your mindset!
Mindset is the collection of thoughts you regularly think. It is your view of things. Mindset matters in stress management. Use this process:
Identify the event that stresses you most and write down the thoughts you typically think when this event occurs. (Just write down your raw, automatic thoughts.)
Examine these thoughts by asking, “Are they true, realistic, helpful? What would be a more accurate, realistic, hopeful appraisal of the situation?”
Write out the most hopeful, accurate, and helpful appraisal of the situation. Examples:
“I can’t stand it any longer” may lead to feelings of extreme frustration or hopelessness. Simply changing the thought to “This situation is very difficult to manage” is not only more accurate, it is also more hopeful. The result is a decrease in frustration and fewer stress hormones.
Thinking “people don’t want to grow” will likely lead to irritation, frustration, and impatience. Simply changing this to “people are having difficulty envisioning and embracing growth and change” reduces frustration and hopelessness and leads to more creative thinking about the problem.
Place this somewhere where you can remind yourself to reset your mindset when necessary.
Repeat this process as many times as necessary for situations that stress you out.
Negative self-talk leads to feelings of frustration, overwhelm, discouragement, anger, or hopelessness. The brain responds to these negative emotions by signaling the body to release stress hormones. When this occurs on a routine basis, it can lead to burnout.
Developing a mindset based in hopefulness and realism leads naturally to problem solving. It also promotes a sense of mastery and confidence. The emotional response becomes increasingly calm.
This isn’t to say you will no longer get upset or stressed sometimes. Your ministry role entails occasional difficult encounters with people and challenges in leading people toward goals.
However, you can develop a mindset that helps you reach your goals in the midst of the stress.