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