Finding a New Trail of Vitality,

New Trails Ministry – Your wilderness RX filled here.


An emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure. When you have an anxiety disorder you can have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns. You may avoid certain situations out of worry. You may also have physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, dizziness or a rapid heartbeat.

A state of extreme physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. It is characterized by a decrease in motivation and performance. On the psychological and nervous aspect, it results from performing at such a high level of stress and tension. With prolonged exertion, it eventually takes its toll on both the body and the mind.

“Stress without let-up leads to a burnout, wherein there already is a sense of negativity building up while performance in many areas of your life are breaking down.” (Psychology Dictionary)

Boundaries are the limits that allow for safe connections between individuals. A boundary is that defining space which clarifies “you” and “me.” Our understandings of what are acceptable boundaries grow out of our family of origin.

A healthy boundary allows an individual to relate with genuineness to others. Persons with healthy boundaries know how to provide for their own personal privacy and safety (and by extension, that of their young children).  Appropriate intimacy and the achievement of trust is possible in the relationships because there is no fear of losing “self” in establishing connections with others.

Persons with unclear boundaries establish the “locus of control” outside themselves. They allow others to define who they are, what they think, where they go. Intimacy for this individual can easily lead to abuse if those with whom they relate prove untrustworthy.

“A state experienced by those helping people or animals in distress; it is an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it can create a secondary traumatic stress for the helper.” ( Dr. Charles Figley)

The very act of being compassionate and empathetic extracts a cost under most circumstances. In our effort to view the world from the perspective of suffering we suffer. The meaning of compassion is to bear suffering. Compassion fatigue, like any other kind of fatigue, reduces our capacity or our interest in bearing the suffering of others. (Dr. Charles Figley)

A common experience for people who work in chronically stressful situations. It results from an accumulation of various stress factors such as heavy workload, poor communications, multiple frustrations, coping with situations in which you feel powerless, and the inability to rest or relax. Cumulative stress is insidious. It is the psychological equivalent of hypertension – “the silent killer”. As stress lays down “emotional cholesterol”- over a period of time it becomes hardened and encrusted in our anger and cynicism toward the profession and eventually our clients/parishioners.

Defined in the WHO constitution of 1948 as: “A state of complete physical, social and mental well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

Within the context of health promotion, health has been considered less as an abstract state and more as a means to an end which can be expressed in functional terms as a resource which permits people to lead an individually, socially and economically productive life. Health is a resource for everyday life, not the object of living. It is a positive concept emphasizing social and personal resources as well as physical capabilities.

Mental illness refers to a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors.

Many people have mental health concerns from time to time. But a mental health concern becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function. A mental illness can make you miserable and can cause problems in your daily life, such as at school or work or in relationships. In most cases, symptoms can be managed with a combination of medications and talk therapy (psychotherapy).

Signs and symptoms of mental illness can vary, depending on the disorder, circumstances and other factors. Mental illness symptoms can affect emotions, thoughts and behaviors.

Examples of signs and symptoms include:

  • Feeling sad or down
  • Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate
  • Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt
  • Extreme mood changes of highs and lows
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities
  • Significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping
  • Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations
  • Inability to cope with daily problems or stress
  • Trouble understanding and relating to situations and to people
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Major changes in eating habits
  • Sex drive changes
  • Excessive anger, hostility or violence
  • Suicidal thinking

Sometimes symptoms of a mental health disorder appear as physical problems, such as stomach pain, back pain, headache, or other unexplained aches and pains. (Source: Web MD)  The challenge with mental illness is that these symptoms are not always clear and require the evaluation of a competent professional, either your Medical Doctor or a mental health professional.

This is a term coined by Richard Louv in his book The Last Child in the Woods, is not a medical diagnosis, but as a way to describe the growing gap between children and nature.  Louv extends his description to remind us that adults as well as children experience this same sense of loss.

At New Trails we are located in rural and wilderness locations that provide the space and place to begin to remedy your own nature deficit, and more importantly rediscover the passion that brought you to serving in the first place.

Most of us are familiar with the term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but less is known about Post Traumatic Growth. Not every trauma leads to a disorder, some people with the right support or resilience find growth comes through traumatic experiences in life. For more information visit the Post Traumatic Growth website.

Psychological resilience refers to an individual’s capacity to withstand stressors and not manifest psychology dysfunction, such as mental illness or persistent negative mood. This is the mainstream psychological view of resilience, that is, resilience is defined in terms a person’s capacity to avoid psychopathology despite difficult circumstances.

Secondary trauma is commonly referred to as “the stress resulting from helping or wanting to help a traumatized or suffering person.”

Vicarious trauma is the term used to describe the “cumulative transformative effect of working with survivors of traumatic life events.

When we form a sympathetic response with our clients or the members of our congregations we are more vulnerable to unconsciously absorbing and internalizing their emotions. We are more vulnerable to experiencing secondary trauma. This can occur as a result of cumulative stress, emotional hijackings and/or low stress tolerance.

Self-care behavior, a key concept in health promotion, refers to decisions and actions that an individual can take to cope with a health problem or to improve his or her health. Examples of self-care behaviors include seeking information (e.g., reading books or pamphlets, searching the Internet, attending classes, joining a self-help group); exercising; seeing a doctor on a regular basis; getting more rest; lifestyle changes; following low fat diets; monitoring vital signs; and seeking advice through lay and alternative care networks, evaluating this information, and making decisions to act or even to do nothing.

When it comes to clergy and other care givers, this includes taking time for these activities and recognizing that if you don’t take care of yourself, your congregation is not likely to encourage that.

Probably the best definition of Spiritual growth is found in 2 Peter 1:3–8, “3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. 5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. 8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Spiritual growth includes: (1) increasing in your knowledge and understanding of God’s Word, (2) decreasing in your frequency and severity of sin, (3) increasing in your practice of Christ-like qualities, and (4) increasing in your faith and trust in God.

Perhaps the best summary of spiritual growth is becoming more like Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul says, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of what it truly means to be spiritual.

Stress management can be complicated and confusing because there are different types of stress — acute stress, episodic acute stress, and chronic stress — each with its own characteristics, symptoms, duration and treatment approaches.

Acute stress is the most common form of stress. It comes from demands and pressures of the recent past and anticipated demands and pressures of the near future. Acute stress is thrilling and exciting in small doses, but too much is exhausting. A fast run down a challenging ski slope, for example, is exhilarating early in the day. That same ski run late in the day is taxing and wearing. Skiing beyond your limits can lead to falls and broken bones. By the same token, overdoing on short-term stress can lead to psychological distress, tension headaches, upset stomach and other symptoms.

Episodic Acute Stress:  There are those, however, who suffer acute stress frequently, whose lives are so disordered that they are studies in chaos and crisis. They’re always in a rush, but always late. If something can go wrong, it does. They take on too much, have too many irons in the fire, and can’t organize the slew of self-inflicted demands and pressures clamoring for their attention. They seem perpetually in the clutches of acute stress.

Chronic Stress comes when a person never sees a way out of a miserable situation. It’s the stress of unrelenting demands and pressures for seemingly interminable periods of time. With no hope, the individual gives up searching for solutions.

If we are not careful this will become just another “catch phrase” that means nothing.  I believe the National Wellness Institute ( has created a useful definition in these terms:

  • Wellness is a conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential
  • Wellness is multidimensional and holistic, encompassing lifestyle, mental and spiritual well-being, and the environment
  • Wellness is positive and affirming

The definition of wellness, long used by the National Wellness Institute is consistent with these tenets. Wellness is an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.  If you want to see more of that this entails you can look at the PDF, Six Dimensions of Wellness.  Also be aware that if you are a clergy person, you like me have a tendency to overstate the state of your health and wellness, and a regular physical can help dispel that tendency.

The term sabbatical is one that is quite familiar, a time away for refreshing and renewal.

At New Trails we have modified the term to include “wilderness” because we believe that God has historically used the wilderness areas to call or empower his people for ministry and service. A wilderness sabbatical at New Trails is focused on helping you reconnect with the calling and passion that brought you to ministry to begin with and to provide the time and space for renewal.

Ministry Statistics

Negative Findings

80% of respondents are currently obese or overweight

43% are obese-a much higher percentage than a demographically-matched sample of U.S. adults

Clergy Well Being Survey
2017 Key Findings

Positive Findings

52% believe they are “on track” for a comfortable retirement

Clergy Well Being Survey
2017 Key Findings

Negative Findings

45% experience work-related stress

Positive Findings

Double the amount of physical activity

4 1/2 hours of moderate activity per week vs. 2 1/4 hours

Clergy Well Being Survey
2017 Key Findings

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