I’ve heard people compare the feeling of a “hangover” to being hit by a truck, run over by a mule or sucker-punched by Mike Tyson. And while I’ve never been drunk and can’t relate to waking up with a splitting headache after a night at the club, I have lots of experience with Monday Morning Hangovers.
If you’re in a leadership position at your church, you can relate to this feeling. The weekend is not the only time you work, but it’s when your work takes its heaviest toll on you.
This is particularly true for those of us who stand in front of people to preach, sing, teach or play an instrument. All eyes are you. That’s hard enough. But all those eyes that are fixed on you are actually looking for God, but since He’s invisible, they look to you as His mouthpiece, His spokesman, His representative. This is heavy stuff.
So whether you preach one time or five times (like I did this weekend at NewSpring) you’re going to feel it deep down in your bones. There’s always a level of anticipation before you stand on the stage and that anticipation causes excitement and anxiety.
Your body doesn’t know the difference between good and bad anxiety. It’s the same chemical reaction internally. And whether you preach for an hour or 35 minutes (which I actually did this weekend, a small miracle in itself) your body will feel the effects sooner or later.
For many leaders, it’s hard to rest on Sunday night after a big weekend. Your body is filled with residual adrenaline. Your mind speeds through a thousand thoughts. You begin to plan the week that begins first thing Monday morning. You dread the staff meeting you have to lead. And you know if you don’t get good rest, you will start the week in an emotional and physical deficit. I know what I’m talking about … this is tough territory for us to navigate.
Here’s what I do to handle the hangover. These simple steps could also be a benefit to you.
1. Scripture — God’s Word brings us comfort when we’re exhausted and not thinking clearly. When you’re tired, you entertain stupid thoughts that you’d reject under normal circumstances. Scripture is the best place to go when you’re too tired to think straight. It replaces lies with God’s truth.
2. No Big Decisions — I can’t stress this strongly enough; I cannot make important decisions on Mondays. The serotonin levels are way off, the adrenaline is ebbing away and I wonder if anyone loves me at all. This is the perfect storm for stupid decisions. I wait until Tuesday.
3. Exercise — Movement is life. The more we move, the healthier we are. A walk or a quick workout gets the blood flowing, works up a good sweat and speeds up the chemical flush your body needs from the adrenaline overload you experienced on stage during the weekend. Fresh air fills the lungs, sunshine gives you a dose of Vitamin D and it’s better than staying in your office and clicking around Facebook.
4. Good Food — When you’re tired, you crave comfort food. Deep fried, lots of calories, fast food junk. It makes you feel better for a minute, but you feel trashed later. I feel better when I eat something light that I know is good for me. Spinach salad, avocados, almonds, fresh fish or homemade soup. And a strong cup of black coffee (with a little coconut oil) is a taste of heaven.
5. Family Time — The stage gives you an abnormal sense of your own importance which can become addictive and destructive. Your family loves you for who you really are, knows your flaws and imperfections and knows that you’re not really a big deal after all. Leaders need normalcy; a card game at the kitchen table, taking your kids to ball practice or eating dinner together with all devices turned off. These work miracles!
6. Rest — This is the hardest thing for a leader to do. We have to discipline ourselves to not always jump right back in to the fray. We need a time to re-set our emotions. Our bodies crave sleep. Our minds need margin. I turn off my iPhone and try to catch a 20 minute nap on Monday afternoons in my basement. I read a good work of fiction. I sit on the porch and listen to birds and the wind. Rest is a discipline.
7. Encouragement — I’ve recently added this to my list as perhaps the most important element to my Monday regiment. Encouraging people fill me up. I am drawn to them. Their words restore my courage and strength. I avoid critical, cynical, sarcastic people as a rule, but especially on Mondays.
Be cautious of social media, too. People say things on Facebook and Twitter about leaders that they may not mean or that they’d never say to your face, and if you read their hurtful words, they can become a poison to your soul. One criticism can displace 1,000 compliments.
When God calls you to lead, the blessing is also a burden. He gives you the strength to carry it, but you still have to carry it. Be wise in how you manage your Mondays. What tips can you share with us? How do you handle the hangover?