Self-Care in Crisis Care [Ten Helps]

At one time or another all of us have told someone we love to… “Take care of yourself!”

Most of us… are focused right now on trying to respond to the need of others, keep our ministry or business afloat or just trying to cope with the day-to-day changes we hear. It can take almost all of our emotional energies to not allow yourself to feel paralyzed by what we are facing.

If you have been around me (Terry) for very long… you have probably heard me say something to the effect that: “You and I can only live focused on duty and responsibility for so long. If we stay in a prolonged state of caring for the demands of life and the meeting the needs of everyone else, and do not allow for times of personal replenishment, we will burnout.”

It’s true.

Each of us draw from a series of reserves each day as we go after the challenges of that day, and try to take on the new. Therefore, replenishment is strategic, and involves adding back into the mix the energy and new strength we each will need to keep going. Replenishment is often needed in four areas where depletion often occurs:

“Spiritual” reserves … involves repeated and ongoing times with God, intimacy with God, empowered by His presence, gaining new hope and perspective from our daily interaction and a posture of surrender…. drawing upon the power and strength of the Holy Spirit on a moment-by-moment basis, and through both focused time and continual awareness.

“Physical” reserves … involves time invested in exercise, sleep, right eating, physical work, taking care of issues of health and well-being. Challenges of our physical life also includes things like the condition of our homes, and context, issues of transportation and safety.

Strategic” reserves … involves times we invest in clarifying issues of life purpose, direction, understanding of our calling in life and our contribution to the life we encounter. Planning for the future so you are able to live well today.

Emotional” reserves … involves times with others, times of solitude, times where you are able to feel life, process life and have conversations about life. Handling the challenges of life and experiencing times of healing from life. Having people and moments that add to you as opposed to take things from you.

MY POINT: A high-alert time of activity (COVID-19) begins to draw upon reserves that many of us may (or may not) have had in the tank before this crisis began.

The question then becomes… what can each of us do to put energy and strength back into the personal tanks that we draw from each day, but especially in a time like we face as we seek to help others.

Here are TEN ACTIONS that you and I can intentionally practice right now, each act putting something back into the tanks that need to re-filled if we are going to keep going in this time.

Get Outside. Take a walk, go for a bike ride, get outdoors. Breathe fresh air which refreshes the mind. Work (or plant) a garden. Build. Paint. Run. Clean. Change. Just be outside.

Connect a friend/family. Human connection fills a vital need. Especially caring for family, kids, grand kids. Email, phone, text. Check-ins with those who add life to your life.

Pick a project. Go after something that you’ve been meaning to do or get done that’s been hanging over you. Go after something you can complete in short-term. (Ex. Clean office, weed garden, organize computer files, etc.)

Capture new ideas. Start a “Futures Journal” with reflections and ideas that could become new initatives and next steps in the post-pandemic. Allow for this down-time to give yourself to think about “What-if?”

Be creative for fun. Do something that is new, different, that involves using the technology or resources you already have, all within the COVID guidelines. (Ex. Talent Show on Zoom, Cuppa-on-line, Tic-Tac-Doe through the window with grand kids, etc.)

Say thanks. Express gratitude to others with whom you feel love and support. Be thankful to God for his daily provision. Thank those on front-lines. Grocery workers. Food servers.

Take a break. Walk away from the laptop periodically. Get up from the desk. Don’t stay in the chair, sofa or table. Don’t stay in same place. Walk somewhere new. Take a different walk each day.

Read Fiction. Sounds crazy but give yourself (and your right brain) a story or narrative to feast on. Allow for a different experience, person, question to become the pre-occupation. Its a help the creative you.

Touch when possible. Keep the human connection with family members. Hold hands. Hug. (All done with those who you are not practicing social distancing.) Counter social distancing with relational engagement.

Turn off the news. Get your update, then get out. Don’t obsess over what you can’t control. Know enough to pray, but realize that the more you know can often make you feel you are responsible to bring about change to a situation.

Each of the above are activities (plus other ideas) should ALSO go on the “recommended” lists we are getting from the agencies as ways you and I need to care for ourselves right now.

These actions are especially needed by those of us who are leaders, caregivers, business executives, church planters, pastors, marketplace owners, and those who are responsible in some way for others.

Stay safe. Stay well.



Terry coaches and mentors breakthrough for entrepreneurial, risk-taking leaders. He has authored several books on leadership and pioneered a variety of leadership development resources and processes with his organization, Leader Breakthru. Terry also serves as adjunct faculty at Fuller Theological Seminary.

One thought on “Self-Care in Crisis Care [Ten Helps]

  1. Thank you Terry for the great advice. Everyone certainly needs some wonderful tips to live out each day during this crisis. We need to take care of ourselves and pour into ourselves so we are able to take care of those around us. We certainly have been given a gift of time, and I am being productive, but also learning the art of being still. Reflection is also a great thing to do each day, and with all of this time, we have the opportunity to actually confront and deal with issues of our heart and areas of our lives that are desperately needing change. God is moving in the midst of it all.

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