Yesterday, I got a little bit of a wake up call. Let me tell you about the experience.
As some of you know, I participate in a monthly Round Table that is made up of twelve individuals from two groups: six of us are mental health service providers while six of us are clergy persons. The goal of the group is to enhance mental health delivery systems by building relationships between service providers and spiritual leaders so that individuals receive the most complete mental health services possible.
Each month the group has a topic that we explore together. This month our topic was “transitions”. As a part of our time together we were asked to complete something called the Holmes Rahe Stress Scale Exercise. The exercise tracks the amount of stress in your life in relation to things you have lived through during the past 24 months.
At the end of the three part exercise we were asked to total our scores. If you had a negative score on the test then you were told you have little chance of a major health difficulty arising in your life. If you had a score between 0 and 150 then you have a 30% chance of experience a serious change in your health due to your level of stress. If you had a score between 150 and 300, then you had a 50% chance of a serious change in your health within the next year. If you had a score higher than 300, you had an 80% chance of a serious health change in your health within the next year.
Guess what my score was?
While I knew the past 24 months had been chocked full of changes and challenges, I had no clue my score would be so high. One of the reasons for the disconnect is that we clergy folks typically have to move from one crisis to another –often with no time whatsoever to process things. In the span of seven days, for instance, I can experience a death; two or three hospitalizations; a conflict raging between two lay leaders; numerous home visitations; and a series of community events.
Like most clergy, I have learned to trick myself into thinking I have let go of the stress from such demands. I regularly underestimate the toll those crushing demands take on my heart, my body, my mind, and my soul.
Those three little numbers (4-2-1) reminded me I’m not as good about letting go as I think.
So what learning do I take away from the test?
A couple things. First, the test showed me its time for me to make a renewed commitment to tending to healthy habits in my life: habits such as healthier eating and getting regular sleep. Second, I need to stop and pay more attention to what is happening around me at any given moment. Third – and perhaps most challenging – I need to stop being Superman and start asking for the time I need to process what is going on around me.
My hope in talking about this today is that I might prod you into looking at your own life. How do you manage stress? When a major transition occurs in your life, do you stop and take time to process the event; or do you simply internalize the stress and race on to the next thing that demands your attention?
As we are just three weeks into a new year, NOW would be a perfect opportunity to make a commitment to adopting new strategies for dealing with the stress in your life.
See you next time!