Fall is the time of new beginnings in the parish. Sunday School, confirmation, schools, it is the secular Advent that the Church kind of must adopt because of our culture. There are many good things about all of these.
My topic for today, though, is how does this affect the person with anxiety or depression?
For me, transitions are the toughest. Moving from one thing to another, new or different situations, new people or increased interaction with people, all of these things are kind of the button for my mental status. Press it, and the energy starts going out my big toe (or wherever energy goes).
So when it comes to fall and all of these new beginnings, if I had blood pressure problems, they would show up. My anxiety goes up, I start to feel like I’m walking through mud, and I can’t get that big toe to stop running all my energy out.
So what does one do to handle all of these pressures and transitions? Well, here are a few tips. Hopefully, I can follow them myself:
- Be realistic with what you can and cannot do. Pastors believe they are supermen, who can leap over tall sinners with a single bound. But we all have limits. If you suffer from depression or anxiety, some of those limits are going to be much more clearly defined. You are no good to your parish by doing everything and then having a breakdown. Think through what you can handle, and then work with someone you trust (elders, circuit counselor, even a friend or counselor can help), to come up with ways to manage the things you cannot do. There is no shame in this. It is reality.
- Say no. When someone asks you to do something else, say no. It’s hard. Let me spell it for you: N-O. It doesn’t mean you are a loser, it means you are realistic about your own health and healing. That’s a good thing.
- Build in time for relaxation, both with your family and by yourself. While this may appear selfish, it is absolutely necessary. You big toe is draining, and you have to have time to recharge. That time doesn’t magically appear from the time fairy. You have to guard it, and I would urge you to get some people you trust in your parish to help you guard it. You need it.
- Pray. I know I’ve said this before, but this is always true. Pray and meditate on the Word of God. I’m not talking about praying all of the Hours here. But pray to our heavenly Father for strength and wisdom and good judgment. He will give it to you. Our Lord is our Sabbath rest. Rest in Him.
- Be fed. If there is a way to hear the preaching of the Gospel from another pastor, do it. If you have to get them via podcasting or whatever, do it. The preacher does indeed preach to himself, but at the end of the day, even the preacher needs to hear it extra nos.
- Stagger these transitions. Don’t start everything on one Sunday. Show a video for Bible class for the first week. Have confirmation begin later in the year. Do whatever you need to do in order to stagger these transitions. If they all hit you at once, you’re toast.
Well, there is my Saturday morning wisdom. Now I’m off to some relaxation. Did I forget anything? Let’s hear about it.