Have you ever felt like you’re burning out?
There are different levels to that though: There’s the Moses burning bush type, where you’re burning but are not consumed. But there’s the type that goes beyond that. You really feel like you’re losing yourself.
If we’re honest, the generational pressure with which we live- and maybe especially the way things are set up in some places- makes you actually start reconsidering how we define some words.
In some sense and settings, burning out seems like a compliment not even a negative thing.
I mean, burning out used to be like some extreme overboard thing. Now, it sometimes sounds like the basic opposite of being lazy. It sounds like doing the basic work to put food on your table and make your life work, or to do well in school or build a worthwhile business. Doing the basic feels like you’re already burning out, or you’re at least two minutes to burning out.
I’ve found myself there, or around there a few times and here are a few top tips I think I have learned that you might find helpful:
- Be Honest With Yourself
Be honest with yourself! If you’re not fine, the first way to deal with it is to acknowledge it. Many of the greatest names in the Scripture dealt with moments and seasons of losing balance. Its okay. You won’t be honest with the systems and people that can help you if you haven’t been honest with yourself. It’s important to say that this isn’t about being negative about yourself, but being honest with yourself. I’m not talking about having a bad couple of days and then raising the roof about you losing your mental health, but we all know when we’re in that season where we’re struggling and out of balance, don’t we?
- Think Processes, Not Just Moments (Be better, Don’t just feel better)
When you feel you’re burning out, don’t just think about how you can get through this week ahead of you. Think about how you can be a better person on the long run. We must go beyond a desire to feel better to a desire to be better- to live healthier and at your best. That must be the goal, not merely surviving one more day. I understand that there are times that you need to just pull through a tough day, but let it be with a full view or vision of you actually becoming better and healthy at your core.
What gets anyone to a place of burn out is not just a stressful moment, it’s a wrongly tilted process. What will get you out is not just a good quick fix moment, it’s going to be embracing better processes. Properly dealing with burnout is going to look like walking a process, not just a quick fix.
- Don’t Merely Push Harder, Push Different
If you’re at that place where pushing harder is not equal to pushing better, then you have to be honest enough to opt for pushing different. Don’t merely swing the blunt axe harder and harder against the tree. You need something different like sharpening the axe or changing the method. If pushing harder is not equal to pushing better, then you need to opt for pushing different. Harder always feels noble, but when harder is not bringing better, it is simply insane to go on and on.
What does sharpening the axe sound like in your context? It might be a conversation, a rhythm breaker, a major time out, but at some point, something needs to shift from harder to different.
‘But I cant afford the time to sharpen the axe,’ you might be thinking.
’No!’ I’d say to you. ‘You honestly can’t afford not to! It might look like spending time, but its actually gaining your life. Stopping to sharpen the axe is not actually losing time, it is gaining time’
Something different is not always about having huge resources to take a three week vacation. It can simply be standing outside for 15 minutes every night to stare and revel in the beauty of the moon. It might be taking a 15 minute identity-affirming walk every morning before going in to face your toxic work environment.
- Climb Using Your Handrails
If you’re dealing with that kind of season and you have support systems- friends, mentors, accountability, a life group, a church family, and stuff like that, then you’re really blessed! Wisdom will be to use them.
Let the right people know the process you’re walking. Get the people that love you to be praying for you. Keep yourself accountable. Don’t just make drastic decisions. Don’t quit your job without talking it through with a trusted voice. Don’t start a new relationship or empty your account to make a purchase in a rash moment. Sometimes, you need to lean on the railings. It is a sign of wisdom and strength, not weakness.
Carey Nieuwhof will say about dealing with burnout, ‘some days, just avoiding stupid is a win’.
That’s so true.
See, the people that God puts in your life truly love you and it’s not about your performance. Quit allowing the devil lie to you that you’re being a burden by leaning on your support systems. God does bless us with support systems as part of his plan for our lives. And I don’t care how spiritual you are, one day every Moses is going to need Aaron and Hur to hold his hands up. If you don’t have people in your life that you can have a safe and honest conversation with in a season of burnout, your biggest life problem is not actually the burnout- it’s the absence of people you’re truly doing life with.
- Your Health and Wellbeing Are More Important Than Your Speed
Okay, let’s settle this. In dealing with a burnout, your priority must be that you need to be fine, not to be fast. It’s okay to slow down whatever you need to. You need to be fine! You need your right balance. Here’s the truth- what you think you lose in speed, the healthy you will recover and gain much more. But you need to be healthy and sometimes it comes at the cost of speed. A catapult that will not accept a draw back will never significantly advance.
- Choose To Trust Jesus
Lastly, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, you need to make the conscious choice to trust Jesus. Not just trust that things will be fine or that you will be better, but trust a person that loves you and has the ability to sort the issues that you deal with. If you don’t tick this box, everything else will be mere principles that don’t hold the weight to genuinely help you.
Your trust is putting your dependence in God’s ability over your life and the things that you deal with. Consciously meditate on His ability and willingness to be involved in your life and invite him to be. You can sleep and truly rest when you know that your sleeping time is not a downtime for him- He’s at work on your behalf.
It’s in trust that we truly find enduring peace and wellness for our souls.
It’s in trust that we can let go of the burdens that weigh heavy.
It’s in trust that we can truly breathe and freely live.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 MSG