Have you ever seen the image of someone spinning multiple plates? You can only keep so many plates spinning before one stalls and crashes to the ground. This is similar to how burnout operates. You believe you can keep adding plates to spin.
You sign up for extra hours at work, volunteer in your child’s classroom, serve every week at your local church, and need to tend to your aging parents every day. Before you know it, you’ve exerted too much energy and cannot sustain the spinning plates. You have reached burnout.
Let’s take a look at an example of what burnout looks like in real life. Barbara is an executive at a Fortune 500 company. She was putting in 60-hour workweeks and had reached the breaking point. She even considered suicide. The constant work seemed like swimming underwater without a chance to come up for air.
Not only were work-related problems draining her energy levels, but she felt severe guilt as a mom whose work consumed her time. The short amount of time she had with her kids was often interrupted by phone calls or email alerts. Not to mention her department was short-staffed meaning more work fell onto her plate. Barbara was burned out.
Her kids were upset and her husband was angry about her time away from the family. Her first thought was that the blame fell entirely on her and that she should just try to figure out how to balance all the spinning plates, continually searching for the optimal work-life balance. She was burning the candle at both ends.
How to Overcome Burnout Anxiety
There are several steps to be taken in order to rid oneself of the anxiety caused by burnout. We will list them here, and explore them later in the article:
- Acknowledge your current condition. Recognize that you must balance a job you love and time with your family. Healing starts by admitting that you don’t want to be where you are.
- Acknowledge boundaries. You need to have boundaries in place in order to allow you the time to heal from the adversity of the workplace and to make time for your family and other loved ones.
- Recognize the prevalence of burnout and that anxiety can be reduced with proper strategies in place. God sees you, knows you, and knows the plans He has for you!
“Busy” is not always good
Many people wear the word “busy” as a badge of honor. Out of a sense of pride, they respond, “Busy!” when asked how they are. We overwork ourselves, running on less sleep, consuming more caffeine, and neglecting what actually fuels our productivity. The terrifying thing is that some people don’t know how to function in any other mode other than busy.
As noted above, the first step to escape burnout and reducing its related anxiety is the acknowledgment that you need to slow down, that you must slow down, and that you want to live life to the fullest.
Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Yet, we often find ourselves trying to sprint an entire marathon only to wind up injured or panting on the sidelines. It’s hard to yield to God if you continue to run ahead of Him.
Here are a few self-assessment questions to ask, to reflect on, and analyze your current state:
- How fast is your life racing and what comes to mind when you consider slowing down?
- What will be the hardest part of slowing down?
- How will slowing down benefit your life?
- Why do you value peace and joy right now?
Jesus reminds us that He is our place of rest when we exchange our burdens for Him.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. – Matthew 11:28-30
The Six Steps from Overwhelmed to Joyful
These are the qualities of healthy and genuinely happy people, those who achieve a balance between stress and ease without burning out:
Scripture reminds us that, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Healthy and happy people know their goal, what they produce, and for whom. They know their purpose and its place in their higher calling.
Happy people love their work and are clear about it. It is usually life-giving because they are passionate about it. Studies tell us that only a small percentage of people actually love their work. Where do you want to be?
Some have learned to evade burnout in the long-term by implementing strong boundaries around their work and personal lives. They have learned when to say “no” and when to say “yes.” Only 33% of people believe that they have the ideal job. That means 66% of people are not doing what they do best which is a strong indicator for eventual burnout.
Being burned out and overwhelmed isn’t just about how much work a person has to do. It’s also about making sure people operate within their strengths. Working to your strengths has a better chance of you falling in the productive and happy category. But if you have a heavy workload coupled with tasks that aren’t tapping into your strengths, you will experience burnout quicker.
Mindset refers to identifying what is hindering us or have someone else help us to see what’s hindering us. We can start asking the bigger questions and understand the limitations we place upon ourselves. Eventually, you might come to conclusions that will prompt you to initiate change and seek a better life.
Someone once said that “nothing changes if nothing changes.” If you’re burned out, overwhelmed, or just feel like you’re not doing what God has called you to, then why not choose a different path? Here are three ways you can start making that change today.
Impact-driven, high achievers do everything with intention. Once a goal is set, they work diligently to achieve that goal. They realize that attempting to do it all alone does not work at the end of the day. However, they often have a hard time asking for help or admitting stress. This means they will try to press on even when asking for help would relieve them.
Intentions are not lofty resolutions that people make the beginning of the new year. Intentions are measurable goals made to fulfill a bigger vision.
If you are working nonstop, it’s okay to start small with your intentions. Block out two hours each day where you will put your gadgets away and focus on a family activity whether it’s playing a game together or even cooking a fun family meal. You can eventually work toward blocking out an entire day where you focus on your family instead of the messages coming at you from work.
These things may seem simple to most, but when you’re used to being overwhelmed and refusing to rest, these physical intentions an start to create more balance immediately.
High achievers put their plans into action. Instead of saying “I’ll get there sometime next year,” they work to create a schedule to accomplish their goals and intentions. You are in charge of your life and what gets accomplished and what does not. When you put your goals into action – resolving on intention, erecting healthy boundaries, and executing the plan – you become unstoppable.
Transformation doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, most successful leaders know it’s a process that occurs over time. Each day we are transformed by the renewing of our minds.
Are you intent on transformation?
Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
Fear is the biggest obstacle that keeps us from accomplishing what God has for us. On the outside, it looks comforting, but in reality, it enslaves us by keeping us stuck and afraid to move forward. Fear can be blamed for keeping people working at jobs that they can’t stand, in subpar relationships for too long and in habitual unhappiness.
Most people dread the thought of starting over. Changing jobs seems too daunting when you compare it to the comfort of a miserable, yet a consistent job. Sometimes it’s the choice that will change the trajectory of your life for the better.
The Harris Poll (2017) conducted a happiness study in May 2017 and found that only 33% of Americans said they were happy at any given time. This means more than half of Americans are walking around living unhappy lives. This happiness was closely linked to a feeling of control over their life, cultural impacts, spirituality, and work. If these areas are suffering, the entire person suffers.
You can’t become a better version of yourself and live a better life if you’re afraid to take the first step. In what areas do you need to step outside your comfort zones in order to get unstuck?
If you’ve reached this far, know that you don’t have to live constantly stressed and frazzled by the demands of life. A life of grace, purpose, and joy awaits you. You are immeasurably loved and precious to God!
Take some time to meditate on Luke 10: 38-42 and consider both Mary and Martha’s posture. Sometimes God encourages us to be a Mary in a Martha world. While Martha is busy making preparations for Jesus, her sister Mary sits at Jesus’ feet soaking up his presence. Martha was preoccupied with preparations to welcome Jesus, while all He wanted was to be welcomed by her presence.
Find space to simply sit at the feet of Jesus today. Relax in his presence and fight the temptations that want to distract you. Like the passage in Luke says “but Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.”
Push away the distractions in your life and pick up Christ’s peace. He wants you to sit at his feet, and to experience the stillness that comes with His peace.
If you are on the brink of burnout and want to create a plan to find an abundant life, please reach out to the team of counselors at Santa Monica Christian Counseling today. We look forward to being a part of your journey.
“Overwhelmed,” courtesy of Blake Connally, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Despair,” courtesy of geralt, pixabay.com, CC0 Public Domain License; “Thinking,” courtesy of Klearchos Kapoutsis, Flickr.com, CC BY 2.0 License; “Victory,” courtesy of stokpic.com, pexels.com, CC0 License