Rest and Burnout Series, parts 1 & 2 (re-post): Facing Burnout & What Is Burnout

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I have been very tired lately and have needed rest.  This is common for busy, productive people.  It is the end of summer vacations and the beginning of a new year on the Jewish calendar.  Time to revisit this topic.  The result of not enough rest is fatigue, sickness, and burnout.  We can not enthusiastically enter the new, if we are burned out from not getting our rest.  God wants us in this for the long run.

 I am re-posting a series I wrote on this from three years ago.  Here are parts 1 & 2:

Part 1

Facing Burnout: Take Care of The Rest

Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.  Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves.  -Matthew 11:28-30

About a month ago, I began noticing that I had a certain level of fatigue in my psyche that was a signal that I needed a break, a vacation, or rest.  I scheduled some vacation time.

When we do not get our rest and do not go off-line and get recharged, we get burned out.  We also get burned out when we have big disappointments or big successes.  These big things are energy drainers, and we get burned out if we do not have a sabbath or sabbatical.  The person who has a new child and the person who loses a loved one are both going to need to get their rest.  How we rest is important.

Have you felt super tired on Monday?  Have you ever had a vacation that left you unrefreshed?  Have you had an ending in your life that you could not get over or process or let go of and so you took the tiredness of it into the next season?

Resting is important and essential to a healthy life. spiritually, physically, and psychologically.   

If we take care of the rest, He will take care of the rest.  Paradoxically, we gain victory through rest, resting in Him.  

In the following posts, I want to explore:
  • What burnout is and how to recognize it and what are some of it's unsavory fruits.  
  • Some thoughts on the sabbath (or sabbath-ing).
  • Rest
  • Time between the times
  • Grieving our losses & new beginnings
  • God's recovery & restoration for you
And more.

Part 2

Running on Empty: What is Burnout?

Some people do not know they are tired and keep going.  We who are like this need to stop and ask ourselves, "how are you doing?"  We need to care enough for ourselves that we ask the question and give an honest answer.  Then, we need to care enough for ourselves that we take care of ourselves.  This sounds so simple, yet many of us treat ourselves as slaves.  We might even have Bible verses to justify our mistreatment of ourselves.  We do need to, "take up our crosses", and die to self; but that does not mean neglect of self by not allowing rest and refreshment.

We actually need to develop a gracious relationship with our selves: our bodies, our souls, and our spirits; while at the same time, we do need to put the sinful nature to death.  Burnout is not the result of the later, but neglect of the former.

Websters Definition of BURNOUT:
1. a : exhaustion of physical or emotional strength usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.

The psychological markers of burnout are: exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy, with exhaustion as the hallmark; according to mental health experts.  Ignoring these symptoms and stoically toughing it leads to things like heart disease and finally, death.  Certainly there is a lot of unhappiness that is preventable before the red lights flash on your dashboard.

Exhaustion is when you are empty.  It would seem like common sense to go off-line when exhaustion begins.  We might be exhausted because we keep skipping the breaks we need to take.  We also may have unrealistic expectations of ourselves and when exhaustion hits, we interpret it unrealistically as disappointing defeat and failure.  No, it's just your mind and body signaling the need for rest.

Exhaustion is the main symptom of burnout, but cynicism and inefficacy are it's corollaries.  If you feel exhausted and go forward, you will experience inefficacy and you will be cynical.

When I ignore my exhaustion, I get cynical.  The burnout causes us to "go negative".  The cynical person may be burned out from great disappointments in their life.  Negativity empowers the negative and sets out the welcome mat for dark forces to roost.  Pretty soon, the negaholic needs deliverance, which may be had simply by repenting and ceasing the negativity.

Cynicism is defined as: an attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others.  Cynicism also involves skepticism, pessimism, sarcasm, misanthropy, and sardonicism (Collins Thesaurus).  Cynicism is the ugly face of burnout.  The cynical person may very well be a person who is suffering from a lack of resting in Christ and while they mean well, they are not rested in him, and are burned out.  The healer, counselor, minister, teacher, or leader may convey the attitude that they, "hate people", when they are in fact burned out and have involuntarily moved into cynicism.

Inefficacy is when you lack capacity to do something: no capacity, no power.  Burnt out people are "tapped out" in the creativity, new ideas, departments.

I believe that if we will get our rest in God, that God will take care of the rest.