Updated: Dec 13, 2018
Your career, your ministry, your family, your friends... they all demand and deserve your time, attention and energy. They matter. It's ok to invest yourself into these things.
But, no matter how many important things you have going on, you have an obligation to yourself, and to everything you're involved in and responsible for, to avoid burnout.
There is no better way to render yourself ineffective than to burnout. If you can relate to any of the things discussed here, it may be time to reevaluate and make a few changes.
1. Your favorite word is "Yes." Helping people out is great. Striving towards success is important to you. Showing up for loved ones matters. Using your gifts and strengths as much as possible is great, too - respectable even. Being busy is ok, and so is having to prioritize in a way everyone doesn't understand at times.
Being spread too thin is another story. Having no time to slow down, breathe, and be restored is a long chapter in that same story. Your lifestyle is not meant to glorify busyness. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should because being super busy doesn't make you any more important or valued. "No" can be a holy word.
Fun fact for my people in ministry: Yes, it's ok to say "no" in ministry, too. God doesn't ask us to burnout to bring Him glory.
Oh, but you can't afford to slow down...
The truth is, you can't afford not to. If you want to burnout fast, say "yes" to everything, try to be everywhere at once, and leave no time for down time.
2. You always fly solo. You lone wolf, you. I know, doing things your own way, alone, seems best. Not only do you say "yes" to everything, you insist you can and should do it on your own. You've convinced yourself it's simply more efficient and produces the best result.
Except it doesn't.
The burden is best shared. You are not fully self-sufficient. There are things that don't fall within your strengths. But guess what? Your weaknesses are somebody else's strengths. Your busy time is someone else's down time.
Take the pressure off. Stop letting yourself believe you're competing with everyone out there. I promise, we're better off when we seek ways to compliment others' efforts, and allow them to do the same for us. Being part of a team is where real effectiveness is.
3. You keep everything bottled up. Whether you want to admit it or not, you have emotions, and sometimes they fight to be noticed. Forcing them to stay bottled up doesn't do you any favors. In fact, it drains you from the inside out.
Now, I'm not saying walk around with all of life's struggles on your sleeves. But, I am saying it's important to have people you can trust to open up to when the way you're feeling needs to be expressed. This doesn't make you weak, it prevents internal turmoil.
Life has a way of being physically exhausting as it is. Don't let it drain you emotionally, too. Once that happens, the burnout isn't "happening" - it's done. You'll be burnt out looking for a way to fill up again.
Side note: The problem is, because you don't know how to slow down, you won't find a healthy way to fill up. You'll get a good night's sleep and hit the ground running with your busy life the next day, starting the burnout cycle all over again.
This emotional thing we sometimes like to pretend doesn't exist is a very important part of avoiding burnout.
I realize I'm burning out, now how do I stop it?
When I realize I've been burning at both ends and need to make a change before I burnout, I do one of two things depending on just how burnt out I'm getting -
(1) Recharge I start making it a priority to get up on time and get 45 minutes alone at my kitchen table or on the deck to breathe, pray and get into my devotions or reading. This time in my day makes such a big difference. By creating a little margin in the day itself, I end up giving myself a little margin mentally and emotionally as well.
(2) Restore I go to the beach. I find a day that week where I either have free time or can reschedule plans, and take the drive down. I setup in a quiet spot on the sand with my beach blanket and OC Coffee Co. coffee, spend time with God, choose a playlist that helps me unwind, and enjoy the down time. I do this once or twice a month.
The beach is where I find peace. Honestly, as I type this out, I feel like I'm there in my head and I'm breathing a little easier.
So what I'm saying is -
Find the time. Carve out a few hours one day. Cancel or reschedule plans. Remove the pressures and obligations of whatever you have going on.
Find your place. Maybe it's a park in a certain town. Maybe it's your backyard. Maybe it's alone in your car in the driveway.
Find your thing. Sit on a bench and watch people walk by. Lay in bed and stare at the ceiling with music in the background. Pray. Journal. Play an instrument.
Make this a priority every once in a while. If you're not making the time to restore your soul, you're choosing to walk a path that only eventually renders you ineffective over time.
Break the burnout cycle. Learn how to say "no." Have people on your team. Be open.
Yes, it really is that simple.