In our world today, many of us are constantly living with the stress of working hard and being productive, filling every spare minute with tasks or chores. Many people are expected to work long hours and produce results. Living in this state of chronic stress can quickly lead to burnout. Even in the most enjoyable jobs, we are still at risk for experiencing burnout. Resilience, or the ability to adapt to stress, is vital. Burnout can be detrimental to our health and wellbeing, but there are many ways we can overcome its effects.

What is burnout?

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It happens most often when we feel overwhelmed or drained emotionally, or when we feel that we can’t meet the constant demands placed on us. Burnout is like a vacuum that steals our energy and reduces productivity. Eventually, burnout can make us believe that we don’t have anything more to offer to others. Burnout dampens our hope for the future and gets in the way of us living the life to which God has called us.

Here are some signs that you may be experiencing burnout:

  • Being cynical or critical at work
  • Feeling like you have to drag yourself to work and having trouble getting started once you arrive
  • Becoming irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers, or clients
  • Lacking energy to be productive
  • Not feeling satisfied with your achievements
  • Feeling disillusioned about your job
  • Turning to food, drugs, or alcohol to cope with emotions
  • Change in sleep habits or appetite
  • Having unexplained headaches, backaches, or other physical complaints

What’s the big deal?

Burnout can affect all areas of our life. It can make us believe that we aren’t productive or valuable at work. It can lead to strained relationships with family and friends. It can hinder our social life. When we experience the strain of burnout, it can cause us to self-medicate with things like alcohol, drugs, pornography, food, or social media, looking to these outlets to find relief and comfort. Over time, burnout can make our bodies more vulnerable to illnesses like the cold and flu. Burnout can have a treacherous impact on our entire life.

What causes burnout?

Burnout can be caused by many different factors in our lives. In the workplace, burnout may arise as a result of:

  • Feeling like you have little or no control over your work
  • Feeling like you’re not recognized or rewarded for good work
  • Having overly demanding or unclear job expectations
  • Doing work that is routine with little variation
  • Working in a chaotic or high-pressure environment

Certain characteristics of our chosen lifestyle may contribute to burnout as well:

  • Working long hours with little time to relax or socialize
  • Lack of close, supportive relationships
  • Taking on too many responsibilities without enough help or support from others
  • Not getting enough sleep

Finally, specific aspects of our personality can also contribute to feeling burnout in our lives:

  • Perfectionistic tendencies, such as feeling that nothing is ever good enough
  • Pessimistic view of self and the world
  • The need to be in control; reluctance to delegate to others
  • High-achieving, Type A personality

What can I do to prevent burnout?

To face burnout head on, we must first recognize the specific way burnout manifests in our lives.

Do you start to take on too much? Do you end up yelling at family? Do you start wondering why you are working because you never feel appreciated?

The second step in dealing with burnout is to manage the stress in your life. One way to do this is to reach out to others for support. Talking with a trusted friend, family member, or counselor can help ease some of the burden of a stressful work environment or home life. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Recognize if you’ve taken on too much and be willing to let other people help you. Saying ‘no’ is difficult for many people; become aware of how much you can take on and still remain a healthy, functioning human being, and know your limits. You are not required to say ‘yes’ to every person.

Finally, to reduce the risk of burnout, make sure you are taking care of yourself. Having a good self-care routine builds our resilience to stress. Self-care is intentionally caring for our whole self—the social, spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional parts of our self. Self-care includes activities like exercise, eating healthy, connecting with friends, making time to pray, reading a good book, and meditating. Practicing self-care regularly is what refuels us and keeps our cup full. We are not able to give to others if our cup is empty; we must care for ourselves in order to live our best life and serve those around us.

God created us to live abundant lives full of joy and hope. Burnout can get in the way of living abundantly, but we have the power to prevent burnout and live more fully. By caring for ourselves and recognizing the signs of burnout, we can shine like burning stars in the sky, burning bright, not burning out.

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

Resources

Books:

“Present over Perfect” by Shauna Niequist

“Codependent No More” by Melody Beattie

Blogs: Small Steps to a More Balanced Life: http://www.rejoicecounseling.com/small-steps-to-a-more-balanced-life/