Five keys to spiritual and mental well-being

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Jenny George describes herself as “a naturally reasonably happy person”. And as the CEO of Converge International – a corporate mental health care provider that supports over two million Australian workers – George is also keenly aware of the need to maintain well-being.

But even she admits to finding the long months of COVID lockdown in Melbourne “terrible”.

“I really noticed how harder it got and I really lost my resilience during that time,” said George. Eternity.

One of the main reasons she found the lockdown so difficult was because she couldn’t sing in a group. George is a member of The Consort of Melbourne – a semi-professional eight-part vocal ensemble – and she is also the music director of her church, St James’ Old Cathedral – Melbourne’s oldest church, run by her husband, the Reverend Canon Matt Williams.

“Many of us have lost things that we weren’t even aware of were important to our mental health. For me, it was singing in a group. I used to do this several times a week, but in confinement, not at all. I discovered that it was really important for my mental health. And when I don’t have it, [my mental health] suffered, ”says George.

Not only is group singing essential for his mental health, George discovered that it is also vital for his spiritual health.

“Singing is also a way of praying, and it’s a pretty important way of praying. So it was difficult during the lockdown and at times when we couldn’t [get together to] to sing. I can sit at the piano at home, but it’s a little different if it’s not planned and it’s not part of the rhythm of the week.

Key 1: Create routines that promote well-being

Unsurprisingly, George wasn’t the only one who felt detached from the COVID pandemic and, in particular, the lockdown. Over the past 18 months, she says, there has been a 10 to 25 percent increase in the number of workers accessing Converge’s Employee Assistance Program – a counseling service for work and personal issues. The number of workers accessing the program has increased during closures in various states.

“The long period of confinement led to an increase in depression and the feeling that people weren’t really getting out of it,” says George.

“We’ve had all kinds of people asking for mental health support who never would in the past. And this was added to people who already had mental health issues and found the blockages exacerbated it and made it harder. “

She continues, “Come to think of it, why do people get depressed? Why is this happening? We still have our families; in many cases, we still have our jobs, but not everyone; but you know, life goes on. So what is it that suddenly increases all of this? “

The answer, says George, “part of it is that so many of the habits we had in our lives have been disrupted” – habits like his band singing.

“For others, it was the possibility of going out for a walk in the country or changes in the way we interact with friends. You don’t have the normal routine. You can still have a certain routine, but you’re not used to having coffee every Monday or at noon with a friend, which, in the end, was a really important thing for your sanity.

Jenny george

As life almost returns to normal as people come out of lockdown and parts of the economy begin to rebound, George emphasizes the importance of maintaining routines that nurture our well-being.

She predicts that there will be a time of the worst being over when some people may experience a delayed and severe decline in their mental health. This could be especially true for healthcare workers, she says, as they will have to continue doing very difficult jobs for a long time.

“We expect to see some pretty exhausted health workers. I think what people maybe haven’t internalized is the healthcare industry and hospitals in particular are going to be stressed out, not even just for the next six months, not even the 12 next few months, but probably for the next two years at least. . It’s very long.

“So far, healthcare workers have put in very long hours. They’re doing well, and they’re getting a lot of use out of it. Because we know that one of the things that sometimes allows us to be resilient and to keep going is when we feel deeply called; when we really have a purpose in what we’re doing. But there comes a time when physically our bodies just can’t keep going at this rate for that long.

She believes healthcare workers need to focus on maintaining a sustainable balance between work and rest so they can continue doing really hard work for the next two years without getting burned out.

Key 2: Know your limits

George herself is not from the healthcare world – in fact, she was originally a mathematician and previously held managerial positions at Melbourne Business School (at the University of Melbourne) for 17 years before taking up CEO of Converge six years ago. . But, as a busy manager with a family to juggle – including a ten-year-old son and husband – she knows a lot about stress management. In addition to her roles at work, home and church, she also sits on the board of directors of Dahlsens Building Centers Pty Ltd and leadership volunteers for the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne.

George was invited to share her experience and insights as a Christian workplace leader at the upcoming 2021 National Prayer Breakfast on November 8, hosted by City Bible Forum, which will again this year be broadcast live from the Parliament of Canberra.

“To me, part of this is an understanding of the connection between spiritual health and mental health,” she says.

Like his conversation with Eternity unfolds, George reveals more strategies she uses to protect her own well-being while managing her entire life – in no particular order of importance.

“I’m fortunate enough to be actually quite naturally mentally resilient. But I notice there is a tipping point for me, ”she says.

“So I have always had times in my life when I took too much into my own hands. In fact, I remember that 20 years ago, when I was teaching at Melbourne Business School, I brought up another subject. So I was teaching the extra material and this term I found myself crying at my desk. It was too much topic, and I would say no next time.

“So I have a good idea of ​​my own capacity. It’s big enough, but there is a capacity limit.

Key 3: Outsource

“I also know what I have to give up a bit. So I can’t take care of the house and do that, ”says George, referring to the many demands placed on CEOs, including interviews. “So I have a cleaning lady who comes to help around the house, and I know it’s necessary. “

She says women leaders sometimes don’t make the connection that one of the reasons men have been able to take on leadership positions is because they never expect to have to vacuum the closet.

“Now, I’m not advocating never vacuuming. (I had a roommate once who said, ‘It’s good for your soul, even if you’re a CEO, to clean your own toilet.’ And I understand too.) But at the same time, I think women sometimes still think that it is wrong to give up certain things.

Key 4: Rely on “the village”

“And then I have an incredibly supportive husband,” George continues. “Because he is the vicar of the church, his schedule is a little different from mine. He still works incredibly hard, but he works at different times than me, so we can do [our family life] job.

“We also just have a really big ‘extended family’. They are not really inbred, but they are part of our household. We have a dear friend of ours who lives with us and another dear friend lives across the road. And so we have a ratio of four adults to one child. It’s a kind of small village and it allows me [to be a CEO]. It’s not magic and I’m not a super woman – in fact, I have to stop doing stuff.

Key 5: Pray and memorize the scriptures

“We have a head chaplain at Converge and I meet with him regularly to pray, pray for the business,” says George.

“I find this to be a very useful way to focus not only on running the business from a business standpoint, but also on running the business from a spiritual standpoint, and pray for my colleagues and clients. So having this in the journal regularly is really nice.

As George now attends an Anglican church, she enjoys praying using the liturgy.

“I really love the liturgy and find it a very useful way to have a rhythm of prayer – to pray words that are in my heart and on my lips that I remember. What I find now with the liturgy is that prayer boils when I remember the liturgy.

George also says that his upbringing in a family of Bible-rich brothers plays a big part in nurturing his spiritual well-being.

“My mother encouraged me a lot to memorize a lot of scriptures. So when I was a kid, Mom paid me pocket money to memorize Bible verses. So I ended up memorizing the entire Sermon on the Mount at one point. Then there were various chapters that we learned as Colossians 1 and Philippians 2. This is very helpful too, because it means that the scriptures are constantly bubbling in my mind. I really appreciate this.

To sign up for the National Prayer Breakfast, visit City Bible Forum.

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National prayer breakfast

Calendar icon08/11/2021

clock icon7:30 am – 8:30 am

Map marker iconhttps://citybibleforum.org/civicrm-event/2562

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