Even if we're not all physically tired (unlike those who work in hospitals and care homes), there's no doubt that the last few months have taken a heavy toll of people's mental and emotional resources. Navigating our way through the various ever-changing restrictions, being separated from family and friends, adapting to new ways of doing our work, worrying about the future ... it all adds up. People are tired. Certainly, if I ask my clergy colleagues what their overriding feeling is at present, the most common answer is that they are tired.
And so self-care, far from being the preserve of pampered narcissists, turns out to be a necessity, a lifeline. Jesus, after all, reminded us of the commandment to "love your neighbour as yourself", suggesting that if we can't look after ourselves we're not likely to be much use to anyone else. But how can we do this?
A couple of suggestions. First, slow down and take time out from life's busyness. For some of us, this will mean walking amidst the spare beauty of winter. For some, ten minutes gazing out of the window at a tree, a bird, the sky. For some, the silence and stillness of sitting, expecting nothing of ourselves, and discovering that God is with us.
And second, could it be that quite a bit of the stress we feel is because we try to do too much? Could we learn to be content with just a few small accomplishments, rather than constantly worrying that we're not doing enough? I found these words of Richard Rohr helpful - they're a prayer, really: "Help us to know what is ours to do." That will be enough - and then, rest.