Burnout is not the same as stress...it is stress on steroids! In other words, burnout is when you feel completely worn out, disillusioned, helpless and hopeless. The problem with burnout is that it can threaten so many aspects of your life. It can be a threat to your own personal health and well being, it can negatively impact your relationships, and it can threaten your job. Burnout can be a serious and debilitating state and we should not seek to minimize it, but ensure that we do everything we can to prevent it.
So how do we prevent burnout?
I have a few simple guidelines that I think we need to put in place in our lives to ensure that we never allow ourselves to get into this situation.
1. Don't ignore fatigue: There have been times when I have pushed myself beyond my limits—I have worked until midnight and then woken up and started working again at 5.00am. I did not experience burnout, but my body did tell me that it resented what I was doing to it—and the result was four weeks of vertigo. If I had unwittingly kept going at that pace I think I would have exhausted myself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The result of all of that pushing would probably have been 'burnout.'
We need to listen to our bodies and not ignore or simply push through our fatigue. Of course, there are times when I am tired and I need to keep working, however, that is different to pushing myself beyond reasonable limits.
2. Recognize your limitations: The first points leads nicely into this second one. You have to realize your own limitations. Paul and I have a capacity for work that some people may not have. We have developed an internal resilience for the kind of work we do. Some people get tired looking just at our program and the pace we keep. We have to be conscious of our capacity and our limitations just as you need to know and understand your limitations and listen to your body.
3. Learn to say 'No': I am certainly not encouraging laziness. A good days work never killed anyone. In fact, I have no respect for lazy people. However, there are times in our lives where we have to say 'no' to some things. You are the only person who can do this—you have to be discerning of what to say no or yes to. That is your call.
4. You are not indispensable: Sometimes we think we are the only person in the world who can do the job properly. Realize that you are not irreplaceable. The world will still keep turning when you are gone! It is good to realize we are not superhuman.
5. Build your resilience quotient: We talk about emotional quotient and intelligence quotient, but I think we need to build our resilience quotient. How do we do this?
Firstly, take care of your physical health. Watch what you eat and drink and ensure that you get some exercise. Simply put, be wise with your body. Secondly, you need to care about your emotional well being. Ensure that you get some downtime. We all need play time and sleep time as much as we do work time. You will keep your emotional health when you balance all aspects of your life. Thirdly, take good care of your spiritual life. Ensure that you spend time with God, read His word and get connected to a church community. Your spiritual well being is one of the most important aspects of ensuring that you prevent burnout. Having said that, it is also imperative that we care for our physical and emotional health at the same time.
If you are tired and discouraged and you know that it is more than stress then this blog is for you. Please heed my advice before it is too late. You are too important to your family, to God and to this world to have burnout! People need you, depend upon you, and love you. Please prevent burnout or further burnout before it is too late.
I am and always will be,
recklessly abandoned, ruthlessly committed and in relentless pursuit of Jesus,