Etc., etc., etc.
As a former Bible teacher used to tell me (using the King James Bible phrase ‘come apart’ which means to separate yourself from your present situation):
“Come apart or you’ll come apart.”
Being a pastor certainly carries it’s own set of stresses, most of which are not visible to those we serve. And added to these stresses is the fact that a pastor is on the clock 24 hours a day, seven days a week and he never officially “clocks out” so he can never fully unwind.
Many other professions are, in their own way, equally stressful. It’s not necessarily that things are bad or unhealthy. It’s just the nature of the job.
So, I needed to come apart or I felt like I would come apart.
Well, my wife and I took a mini-vacation recently. We went to Memphis for a few days to just de-stress and focus on each other as we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. While I did some work and made some ministry phone calls on our little get-away, being away just made it feel a lot less stressful.
(And please realize that I serve in a great church. The folks I serve love me and I certainly love them. But, stress can build even in the best of scenarios.)
While I was on vacation, I watched as my Fitbit generated the Resting Heart Rate (RHR) data. It was incredibly insightful when I compared my vacation RHR data to my RHR data when I am in my ministry context. Looking at the data, it seems clear that stress has adverse affects on the body and a periodic vacation is a very healthy and needed thing.
But, before I show you the chart with the data, let’s define what a resting heart rate is…
Resting Heart Rate: the number heartbeats per minute when your body is in a state of rest. This measurement is usually taken moments after you have awakened in the morning.
“The usual range for resting heart rate is anywhere between 60 and 90 beats per minute. Above 90 is considered high. … (In his prime, champion cyclist Lance Armstrong had a resting heart rate of just 32 beats per minute.) Stress, medications, and medical conditions also influence the heart rate.” (from Harvard Health Publications)
So, here are my numbers. I’m a runner so my numbers are lower than average (low is good). I bet you can tell when I was enjoying some “away” time with my wife.
|Resting Heart Rate for past 30 days
The slippery slope on this chart started as we were preparing to leave on vacation. The lowest recorded RHR (58 bpm) was logged by my Fitbit on the last morning of my vacation as we prepared to head back.
My personal data isn’t that drastic. My running habit certainly keeps the numbers lower than they ordinarily would be (Running is a wonderful stress reducer.). But, it does show that getting away and de-stressing is good for our mind and body.
And if it’s true of pastors, it’s true of you, my friend.