By Glyndora Condon MS MFT LPC
Burn out can occur to anyone. It often catches people off guard when it is a labor of love yet when it occurs, these individuals feel trapped and drowning in obligations that they begin to feel bitterness of; while also feeling shame. How could they be burned out when they are doing something that they studied for, planned for, that they are doing for loved ones; and that they had been so committed too? Clergy, Psychologists, Counselors, First Responders, Doctors, Parents, Caregivers of chronically ill or disabled individuals. Caregivers of those who are mentally and developmentally challenged; are some of the highest risked people who can easily fall into this trap.
In each of these is a heart that wants to serve and often and overachiever mindset. The combination of these two strong features drives this individual beyond their normal capacity on a continuum. The feeling that one needs to do more is continually pushing them. Other aspects that can press a person into burnout is the feeling that I am the only one who can and will do this right. Or the feeling that I must have this obligation upon me to attempt to help me to not feel as guilty over something I am blaming myself for. Another possible reason is the fear that I am good enough for heaven or family unless I tirelessly sacrifice my time for God or family. Possibly another reason is that I do not feel comfortable asking others to help me. If a person's validation depends upon receiving praise for their tireless work, then this would certainly be a cause. However, sometimes we are forced into a situation that we did not bargain for or ever think would happen such as a trauma or crisis, major loss, which left us no choice but to press forward and against great odds. Regardless of the reason, if we keep pressing without respite or time for ourselves-then we will find ourselves battling stress, depression, bitterness, shame, and fear.
How can we let others down while we take a rest? What will people think about me? Who will do this if I stop? These are questions that cycle as we attempt to grasp control over our lives that have become unmanageable. If we do not continue then we let others down. Isn't this my responsibility? One can imagine how powerful these questions are to one who is burned out. Some physiological conditions will occur: Headaches, chronic fatigue, gastrointestinal, muscle and chest pain, insomnia, and other symptoms are a few examples. Another notable issue will be difficulty in concentration and memory; not to mention the emotional roller coaster.
Some things that we can do to offset burn out are the following:
Designate jobs out to others and allow them to do their best with these without critiquing them or feeling as if you need to jump in and do it right. Be satisfied when others are willing and working to help.
Train others to do the more skilled jobs that you were trained in so that they can fill in when you need a break. If you can learn this-so can they.
Have faith that God has this.
Tell others that you are struggling and need a break so that you are not carrying this by yourself.
Say NO to the extras. There are others who can pick up the slack and need something to do.
Get sleep (7-8 hours of rest is needed). Make you sleep area inviting to rest within; keep a regular sleep cycle; do not be on screened devices up to 2 hours prior to bed; and keep all screen devices in a different room. Rise at a regular hour each morning (or what ever your shift is).
Do not procrastinate.
Be acceptance of your work as good enough when you know that you have vested well into your work and it is the best you can do.
See a counselor. Counselors can help you find the solution for you feelings of guilt and shame; and help you to learn healthy coping tools.
Eat regularly; eat healthy, stop sugar intake. Lower caffeine intake, and lower alcohol intake.
Do get a massage and soak in a relaxing bath or hot tub.
Do take time off to collect your energy and thoughts.
Pushing oneself beyond reasonable limits and dealing with the stress is dangerous for one's health and well
being. Work becomes sloppy which drives more guilt and pressure. Allow yourself to be human and know that you have limits. No one knows the stress of your job or season but you. All have different thresholds. No one is your judge and God has provided a strong message that it is important to rest from your work each week.
With rest and limits then if you choose to return-then you will find yourself with renewed energy and you will be better able to focus. Pleasurable interests will be enjoyed and your job will once again be something you can do well.