I used to feel that discussions of emotional health were a waste of time for people who were focused and productive. What I overlooked though was that, so many hard-working and intelligent people were burning out, despite being relational and well-adjusted. On learning, too, that a staggering three-quarters of ministers are burnt out or at risk of burnout, I figured on needing to pay much more attention to a key element of personal wholeness and wellbeing that is not just relevant to those working in people professions, but to all of us.
Peter Scazzero’s excellent book, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality is one of many texts that examines some important keys to developing a side to ourselves that is often swept aside by busyness. He shows that our emotional make-up links to and is enhanced by, our intellectual, physical, social and spiritual wellbeing, but can be neglected by only focusing on those other elements, too.
Some factors that can aid in protecting and improving our emotional wellbeing are worth considering, but by exploring how to make them work, rather than just stating their need.
1. Eat well, rest well and exercise. Physical well-being enhances our emotional state and we can more easily be drained by poor diet and lethargy. It is easy to minimise sleep and eat the wrong foods when we feel stressed, yet these practices can deprive us of the best natural resources to coping with life. Getting input on diet from others and then rewarding ourselves with occasional treats, rather than ‘stapling’ on them, requires intentionality. Going to bed earlier, rather than sleeping in, can also avoid the time-wasting that can happen late in a day when we are already not functioning at our optimum.
2. Invest in friendships. This obviously requires more deliberate attention when it doesn’t happen much. Busyness can suck away the very potential for friends to become a part of our lives, but even where there seem to be none around, we can choose to spend relational time with people who are in our normal world. It might take several attempts to ‘hit it off’, but whether pursuing a hobby or some light recreation, or just enjoying a slower pace over a meal, we need to try to seek out relational inputs that invest back into us.