As we start the new year many people focus on deciding what their resolutions will be for 2023 - losing weight, exercising, eating better, saving money, and others. However, we don’t often begin the year talking about the things that stop us in our tracks and put our resolutions on the shelf. We don’t confront the fact that many of us – even some who make resolutions – are completely and totally overwhelmed and burned out.
You might not be burned out in this season. But whether you feel you're on your way to burnout, or have no symptoms at all, the new year is a good time to think about preventing it. In order to serve others, it’s important for us to become more aware of this important mental health issue.
A state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged
or repeated stress. Though it’s most often caused by problems at work, it can also appear in
other areas of life, such as parenting, caretaking, relationships and even church life.
Or, put another way, to be burned out is to be used up to the point of being empty, like a battery so depleted that it can’t be recharged. In people, unlike batteries, the stress is said to produce the defining symptoms of “burnout syndrome”: exhaustion, cynicism, and loss of efficacy. ( J. Lepore / The New Yorker 2021)
Just like in 2020, American workers across the board saw heightened rates of burnout in 2021. According to the APA (American Psychological Association) 2021 Work and Well-being Survey of 1,501 U.S. adult workers, 79% of employees experienced work-related tress in the month before the survey. Nearly 3 in 5 employees reported negative impacts of work-related stress, including lack of interest, motivation, or energy (26%) and lack of effort at work (19%). 36% reported thought weariness, 32% reported emotional exhaustion, and an astounding 44% reported physical fatigue—a 38% increase since 2019 (APA Org. Monitor 2022)
But, burnout isn't limited to the work environment. Retired people can suffer from burnout, too.
The stress of parenting, particularly in environments of insufficient support can lead to parental burnout. These parents often report a difference between the parents they were, the parents they would like to be, and the parents they have become.
Relationships can be as burdensome and challenging as a full-time job and may cause the same feelings over time. Periods of financial stress, relationship loss, sudden or surprising changes, or relocation can bring on relational burnout.
I love my mother, father, or special needs relative, but taking care of them is leaving me feeling exhausted, guilty, angry, ashamed, and cynical. Caring for someone is definitely stressful, and can cause caregiver burnout. Its one of the most loving acts we can express but also one of the most challenging.
Spiritual burnout is real. Please take time and watch this YouTube Video. “As the stressors of the past three years have built up, we are all at risk of burnout. The good thing is God's Word gives us solutions to burnout so we don't give up. Things like religiosity, focusing only on behaviors, and a performance-driven mindset will make us feel burned out. Addressing them brings relief. God wants deep relationship, deep spirituality and deep honesty.” - Russell Ewell, Bay Area Christian Church
The first step is always to seek God’s help. But just like Moses we try to get everything done in our own strength. Then, when we’ve reached the end of our rope, we go to God. We can save ourselves a lot of time and energy when we go to God first. In Numbers 11:16-17, God said to Moses ‘Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders among the people… They will share the burden of the people with you so that you will not have to carry it alone.’ Straight from God’s Word is a specific answer to Moses, and by extension, to us. A key strategy to heal and prevent burnout is to get support from others to ease your burden.
Unrealistic expectations are the source of unneeded stress and pain in our lives. Our culture, media, and sometimes even our loved ones influence us to believe that we must do it all perfectly. However, that is not the truth. We’re all human and humans fall short of perfection. So, renew your mind, ease your expectations of yourself and others. You’ll soon see that your perspective will change, and your level of stress will decrease.
Self-care is very individual - what works for you may not work for your neighbor. Consider prayerfully and plan your self-care needs. Do what works best for you. Outline you plan around four categories: physical, mental/emotional, professional, and social care. Make an honest assessment of each area of your life, and take steps to correct imbalances and obstructions to your overall health. Some people create vision boards to help them keep perspective throughout the year.
Many of us won’t admit it, but we find it very difficult to set boundaries for ourselves and others. We don’t realize that setting boundaries protects our wellbeing. Our 24-hr media cycle influences us to believe we must also be available 24/7, but health people set deliberate limits. A boundary can be as simple as turning off any work-related notifications on your personal phone when you finish work each day. If needed have a healthy conversation with your boss to share your plan.
If your burnout symptoms have lingered for a prolonged period, or reached a level that you feel you no longer can control, it’s time to speak to a professional. Most workplaces have an Employee Assistance Program that can either provide you with services or refer you to an outside mental health provider. You can also seek help from your own health care provider or local healthcare service. Since popular athletes have come forward with their own experiences, getting professional mental care no longer carries the stigma it has in the past. Please, don't wait. If you need it, get help today.
Father God, in Jesus’ name, I thank You that Your eye is on the sparrow. So, I know for sure You are watching me too.
Father, I’ve been carrying too much. It has worn me out and worn me down. I can’t do it anymore.
Father, I’m coming to You for help. Something has been keeping me from laying my cares at Your feet and resting in You. Would you show me what it is, so I can let go of everything I’ve been carrying and find true rest?
** Now pause and just listen for the still, small voice of Holy Spirit speaking into your heart. Then take it from there and talk with Him about whatever He shows you.**
Thank You, Abba Father. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
(From His Presence.com )
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