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When You’ve Hit Burnout

Somehow, it’s already the end of August. When the new year of 2018 rolled in, I had the best of intentions to post often and regularly. But somehow I hadn’t taken into account how my mind works, my schedule, and self-placed expectations. As we approaching the end of summer, I realize that I’ve hit a wall of burnout.

Burnout isn’t always obvious. As a go-getter, you might be itching to get the next task done and jump over the next hurdle. Having a full plate of things to do gives you that special rush. And even though it’s a little overwhelming right now, you tell yourself that it’s for the short-term, so you can reach that goal you have.

I had several goals. Studying for the GRE and working on research ideas and working as a tutor, editor, and a young adults retreat planner has kept me busy.

It felt good for a while. My adrenaline was surging. And then, slowly, as so many people start to experience once the adrenaline dies down—I started to forget things. Despite setting reminders for myself, I forgot important dates and deadlines. Overall, I’ve felt overwhelmed. It’s been hard to keep my head above water. I’ve been joking recently that my mind is no longer a steel trap, but rather a sieve. It’s not a joke, though.

I think we all hit periods of burnout, and all for different reasons. Whether it be because you’ve worked too hard, or you’ve been stressed for too long, you haven’t had enough sleep—or maybe it’s a combination of the three.

It’s hard not burn ourselves out. Our society is results-driven, causing us to place our worth on how productive we are. We praise those who work overtime and those who refuse to sit down. And while there’s something to be said for a good work ethic, there’s something to be said for a rest, too.

It took me until this past week to see it, but I’ve realized that perhaps not allowing ourselves a rest is some form of idolatry. As Christians, we are definitely called to work hard, as seen in Colossians 3:23–24:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

But while we should work hard when we work, we are also called to rest. It’s actually so integral to our faith, that it dates back to the Ten Commandments:

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

When we start to serve other people first, and not God first, we forget to give ourselves a day of rest. We convince ourselves that we know better;  all we need is to keep chugging along. But even trains need to stop and refuel, let alone the human mind and body. Don’t keep running on fumes.

I think a common misconception is what exactly “rest” means. Rest doesn’t have to mean sitting on a tropical beach with a coconut drink in your hand—although if that’s an opportunity for you, take it. However, it can also be simply working towards a different goal. Instead of working for your boss, work on writing a short story, painting, being creative. Get some exercise.  It’s healthy for your mind to shift gears.

And most importantly, spend time with the Lord. A lot of things that I think help me relax actually stress me out. Social media is one of those culprits. I actually needed to delete Facebook Messenger from my phone recently so that I could recharge. Step away from the computer and get some water. Read your Bible. Jesus just wants to walk with you, won’t you let him?

And remember to breathe.

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