Last week I was fortunate enough to have a training day by an organisation called Cognacity who are ‘experts in mental well being and people performance’. The session was aimed at clergy and was specifically about building and maintaining resilience in ministry. We thought about how to keep up good mental health and avoid the dreaded burnout. It was such a good day, and it has made me really think about the way I work, get things done and live overall.
Topics covered on the day included: the resilience spectrum, our stress responses, psychometrics, cognitive distortions, communicating under pressure, multitasking vs task focus, on the field behaviour (at work), off the field behaviour (down time) and stress as bicycle tires! It wasn’t what I was expecting, because there was interesting research findings and theory, as well as funny videos and pictures! That being said, there were also lots of opportunities to discuss how this stuff impacts our daily lives.
I have rarely been to such a good training day and I took so much away from it.
I find that a good way cement my learning and to be accountable for goals I set is to blog. So here are my top 6 goals that I am going to work towards over the coming weeks:
- Drink more water. To be fair, this seems to have been a life-long goal of mine. I’m just terrible at drinking enough water! But I was especially struck by a statistic I heard on the training day: 3% dehydration = 10% energy loss! How crazy is that?! I must remember to drink. more. WATER!
- Go to bed earlier. It’s no use trying to work right before bed time, it will only make trying to go to sleep more difficult. (She says, drafting a blog at 21.56). I am now aiming to head up to bed earlier so that I can get a better quality sleep when I drift off.
- Daily Calm. When I did a mindfulness-based stress reduction course earlier in the year, I downloaded an app called Calm. I have learned to bring a more mindful attitude into lots of my every day activities since completing the course, but I haven’t been great at actually setting time aside to use all that the app has to offer. Meditation takes very little time, but it makes the day overall a whole lot better!
- Eat a toad each day. This might sound crazy. But the idea is that if someone told me that I absolutely had to eat a toad today, then I really wouldn’t be very happy. If I then chose to carry that toad around with me, rather than getting it over and done with and eating it in the first place, the toad would weigh heavy on my mind and I would be distracted knowing that eventually I would have to eat the toad. The premise is: everyone has jobs that they don’t want to do, and it’s tempting to put them off. But if you just get them over and done with early in the day, your mind will be freer to be productive in other ways. Eat that toad! Metaphorically, that is, not physically!
- Only classical music in the study. I am awful for having Netflix on in the background as I work. I think it’s left over from student days when I only had one space to work/live/chill/sleep in. I’ve just got used to background noise. I wrote most of my MA dissertation to the soundtrack of Rupaul’s Drag Race. I now know, from this resilience day, that having Netflix playing, or indeed, any sound with words in it, is pretty bad for concentration. The best kind of background sound is classical music, or quiet music without lyrics. So, it’s goodbye, Netflix and hello, Classic FM!
- Slow down. We spent some time thinking about how we communicate under pressure, and reflecting upon a bit of a tricky conversation earlier in the week, I noticed that it would have been better if I had slowed down and not been in such a rush to make the issue go away. Sometimes things need to be handled carefully and slowly!
So they are the top 6 little changes I can make which I think will have a big impact upon how resilient I am. In the longer term, I am trying to ensure that I factor in good recovery time over periods of high performance, just like athletes would. Ministry is a marathon, not a sprint!
On a side note, I thoroughly enjoyed making notes on my laptop (see the picture at the top), and I’ve realised how much better I engage if I can take my own notes as I go! Also as a result of the training day, I now have this gorgeous creature stuck to my windowsill above my desk, looking at me as I work!