So we had a huge 'argument' yesterday in class. The subject was self care. Chaplains, in general, are notoriously bad at it. While we all realize that we are expendable, our commands seem not to get it. On the civilian side, our congregations also often do not understand. I have had disagreements with board members about what I am supposed to do if I have long-standing plans and a funeral comes up. The class discussion was vociferous, with very strong opinions and a flying cell phone. We are a stressed group.
I suppose that those of us who are in the so-called helping professions are not great at asking for care when we need it. We may well also be bad at realizing that we need it. We read that Moshe (Moses) lived to be 120, did all that he did, and never lost his personal strength. Perhaps we have internalized Moshe's life in a way that we are unable to maintain.
In any event, the instructor asked us what we do for self care. Most of us do not do enough. I will give all of you my list:
1. I like to cook.
2. I ride my bicycle.
3. I enjoy my own cup of coffee every day.
4. I NEVER take my lunch at my desk.
5. Jennifer and I have a long-standing policy of not answering the phone during meals.
6. (Deleted due to intimate content)
7. I take time for limudei Kodesh (religious learning).
8. I write in this blog.
9. I take my appointments on foot when the weather permits.
10. I zealously protect my day off, although getting all of the errands done hardly allows that day to be relaxing.
11. I play ping pong and exchange a little bit of trash talk with my son.
Here is the issue though. Items 2, 3, 4, and 5 are daily, and do not require much effort. They are easily made part of the schedule.
All of the other things are activities, not policies, and not attitudes. Until self care becomes attitudinal, clergy will likely suffer both physically and professionally.
Folks, this may be a 'do as I say and not as I do' statement, but make sure to take care of yourself. It is important.
Have a good day.