Do you manage to relax on your day off?

The Experiences in Ministry Project concluded that clergy are more likely to burn out if they have too many demands and nor enough resources. I have touched on this a bit in the post about overwork. However, the research also identified other indicators for burnout which are:

– those who sacrificed the most,

– felt less clear about their calling and

– were less able to detach from ministry in their time off

I’d like to look at the third of these indicators. During my sabbatical my husband (also ordained) and I have been home to the Rectory occasionally, but mostly have been staying at a property we bought about three years ago. I quite like our fleeting visits to the Rectory, there are many things about it that feel like home. However, when we were there my husband is like a cat on a hot tin roof – he couldn’t settle, he looked stressed. It was so obvious it was spooky. It begs the question about whether it is difficult to relax properly on a day off.

I remember one of my bishops telling me that it is important to have a house within an hour’s drive so that you can stay there the evening before your day off and the evening of your day off. I understand more what he meant now. Of course most clergy probably can’t manage to own a house within an hour’s drive.

When my mum and dad died one of the differences that I noticed was there was no longer anywhere where I could go and stay for free outside the parish, and this felt like a loss, of course we then had some inheritance and we could have paid to stay elsewhere but we never seemed to make it a priority.

In the Oxford Diocese’s Flourishing in Ministry booklet there are suggestions that deal with this problem:

– Spend time in a place where you can relax (such as your garden)

– Take a quiet day once a month and spend it somewhere out of the parish

– Take time (including occasional weekends) away from the Benefice to visit friends/family living in different parts of the country

I would be really interested in the views of other clergy on this – do you manage to relax on your day off?

Photo Accreditation: Ajith Kumar

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