Several months ago, I got to the end of my rope.
I was FRIED. Exhausted. And quite frankly, I began to shut down.
However, my Type-A overachiever personality said, “You wimp! Keep going!”
I vacillated back and forth between this spiritual concept of working with a “God will give me strength” truth and a “Be still and know” type of mentality. Which one was right for this season? Was I to keep pressing in harder, working my tail off for Jesus? Or was I to pull back, rest more, and let go of this desperation to keep up?
My body craved sleep, and yet as soon as my head hit the pillow, a billion thoughts flashed through my head. It made it impossible to sleep. In the morning, I dreaded getting up. My mile long to-do list made me shut down before I could even start. It got to the point where I felt like I had lost my drive, my creative ability to think clearly, and all I wanted to do was go back to bed or check out on social media.
It felt impossible to keep up and I felt powerless to change it.
Have you ever been there too?
It wasn’t until a few months ago when my emotional stability was tanking, I reached out to my trusted counselor. She’s the one who’s helped me overcome my depression spells over the years, uncover the Truth from the lies, and has given me spiritual tools to become a stronger, more confident woman of Christ. She’s helped me grow closer to Jesus and live a more balanced life. I’m ever grateful for her wisdom and counsel.
And again, she helped me see certain truths about myself that I wasn’t willing to admit. One of which was: I was experiencing burnout.
“No way!” I thought. “God called me to this, therefore He will lead me through it!”
There have been times in my life where this was in fact true. God WAS calling me to press in to the difficult or taxing season in my life and He WOULD see me through it.
But deep down, I knew this wasn’t one of those times. I knew she was right; I was burnt out and God had been telling me to pull back.
She asked me a key question, really the heart to pretty much every problem and issue we are facing. She asked me, “How much time have you been in God’s Word over the past several months?” Honestly, I shared that it had been sparser than usual. I was “busy doing His work” so I didn’t have as much time to sit and read His Word. In fact, many of the times I sat to read His Word, it was less for ME and more for YOU. It was done more out of duty than delight. I still prayed often but failed to sit long enough to listen for His responses. I was barreling through the present season without being sensitive to His leading.
And guess what? This led me on a detour that was apart from God and led to even more burn-out and frustration in the end.
Of course, God can use everything for His good. And I’ve learned a great deal about myself through this faulty detour I went on. I learned that even though I was doing some things right, I was also doing some things wrong in my approach to it. Or maybe not necessarily wrong, but not the way God intended.
The ironic part is I had been sensing for months that something wasn’t right on the path I was on but I continued to ignore it.
Sometimes in God’s mercy He allows calamity to intersect our lives to draw us back to His purpose and plan for us.
Recently, I took time to notice my heart again. I saw how fragile it was. How much it was dealing with and going through. I realized I had side-stepped a few degrees away from God’s direction—which if you’re driving a car or airplane, those few degrees off course can lead to a massive change of location.
I also looked at all the plates I was carrying and realized there’s no way I could hold them all, in fact… many of them were starting to fall and break around me into pieces.
Friend, this isn’t the way God has meant for you to live.
I’ve reworked parts of my life to experience the freedom I have once again. It’s allowing me to work with deeper contentment, increased peace, and less overwhelm in my life. I’m enjoying time with my family and friends more, sleeping better, and have more joy in my vocational calling and life once again. I feel more sensitive to His Spirit speaking to me and leading me to His better path and plan for me. I am less focused on what others expect from me, and more focused on deepening my relationship with Him. Because in the end, what else really matters?
I think you may be in the same spot I was. And I want you to know how I overcame experiencing burnout and how you can too. So, here are 3 easy tips on how to fix it:
TIP #1: Take Long Soaks… in God’s Word.
There are times when shorter bursts into God’s Word is all you can manage. There are seasons when newborn babies and career changes override your ability to take long soaks into God’s Word. But when you are experiencing times of burnout, you need longer soaking sessions with Him during this time. Honestly, you can’t afford not to do this; your sanity and strength depends on it.
So get back into God’s Word on a daily basis for a longer period of time and do it for YOU, not for anyone else. Ask God, “What do you have for me today?” Ask Him to help you understand His Word. Ask Him to help you actively engage in His Spirit during this time. I believe the more you read His Word and let it penetrate into your heart and mind, the less troubled you will feel and more clarity you will gain.
TIP #2: Put Some Plates Down; They’re Going To Fall Anyways.
Have too many plates spinning in the air? Are you forgetting meetings? Not getting enough sleep? Do your friends wonder what happened to you? Is your kid’s expensive soccer club membership or your spending habits making you take on more work than you can handle? If you don’t figure out how to put down a few plates or lessen the weight on each plate, they’re going to get too heavy for you to handle and will fall. Then, the mess will take even longer to clean and be more time consuming than if you had taken the time to reorganize the load. Take this from someone who’s experienced this.
Look, I’ve cut back in a number of areas when it comes to growing my writing, speaking and coaching business ministry. I’ve learned to say “No” to PTA meetings or other activities that I know I just can’t handle in my schedule. Only recently did I put my kids into extracurricular activities because we reassessed our budget and reworked our finances to make it work without adding financial stress.
Was this easy to do this? No. Was it worth it? Absolutely!
It’s going to be hard to put a plate or two down. But like I said before, if you don’t, they’re going to fall anyways.
TIP #3: Create a Schedule, But Be Flexible
I used to schedule everything. I was over-controlling and if things didn’t turn out the way I had planned, it would cause crazy amounts of stress and anxiety in my life. Then, I went the opposite direction where I didn’t schedule anything. I had a go-with-the-flow mentality. I let go of trying to control everything because I knew it was triggering worse anxiety episodes in my life. And although the anxiety lessened in certain areas, it increased in other areas. So as with everything that I’m learning, a certain level of balance is critical to live a fulfilling and joyful life.
You must create a schedule, but be flexible when unexpected situations arise. Kids will get sick. A bill will pop up out of no-where tanking your budget. The car won’t start. There will be certain things outside of your control.
But, if we expect the unexpected, we will adapt to them more easily than if we hold to a rigid schedule. And the unexpected will be even easier to manage if you have a proposed game plan for them.
For example, have a back-up plan for when the kids get sick. Create an emergency fund for those unexpected bills. Phone a friend when the car doesn’t start.
Currently, I’m still working out the kinks to my schedule on this one. But I’ve already found more joy and peace as I plan out my times to write. I have more creative energy to invest into my projects as I plan them out. I’m experiencing less overwhelm in my home as I schedule laundry days, meals and de-clutter. I’m enjoying intentional, engaged time spent with my kids and husband. And friend, I’m finally sleeping better as I create a lifestyle that works for me instead of wrecks me!
I promise you can do this. It’s super simple.
In fact, I have a free download for the weekly spreadsheet I use to help me plan my week. Grab it now and start scheduling your lifestyle to achieve those goals and the things most important to you! Here’s a sample of how mine looks:
Of course, our weekly schedules can change. So every Sunday I do a quick peek and see if my google calendar lines up with this visual schedule and make tweaks or adjustments as necessary. I hope you find this tool useful like me!
So, tell me, are you experiencing burnout? What does it look like for you? Share in the comments below!