Lisa is the mother of four children, homeschools two of her children, works a part-time job from home, and is married to a firefighter who works 48-hour shifts. Lisa serves on multiple committees at church, hosts a Bible study at her house, and has committed to serve at a homeless shelter one Saturday a month.
She has been feeling overwhelmed for months, feels more tired by the day (even when she sleeps eight hours per night), is beginning to develop a fear of commitment, and is currently withdrawing from those who know her best.
Lisa may be on the pathway to burnout syndrome, with a past of overcommitting, and now on the slippery slope that is leading her to a fear of commitment because she does not want to let anyone down.
Differences Between Stress and BurnoutBurnout is more than feeling burdened or stressed from time to time. Burnout is when you are mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically exhausted and overwhelmed most of the time. It is important for those to be aware of what burnout is and to ensure that the warning signs and symptoms are not creeping up on you.
Dr. Sharmila Dissanaike said, “Stress is the person who looks a little crazy when they turn up for an after-work get together at the end of the week, strung out and frazzled; the burned-out person is the one who didn’t even bother to show up.”
Stress is feeling overwhelmed from time to time with all that is on your plate, but stress does not alter your ability to keep showing up to your commitments. Stress can be a normal response to an impending deadline or a series of pressured events. Stress can be a normal response to a jam-packed schedule.
Burnout may be the result of prolonged stress and overcommitment that leads to withdrawal and commitment phobia. Burnout can eventually lead to severe exhaustion that might alter or take away the drive to chase your dreams. Burnout can also take away your drive and ability to continue showing up for your commitments.
Types of Burnout
It is important to evaluate where you are right now and to take action if you are on a path of prolonged stress and overcommitment that might lead to burnout.
Emotional BurnoutIf you find yourself avoiding the phone calls of your close family and friends, avoiding regular get-togethers or birthday parties, and detaching yourself from deep-knit relationships; then it may be time to reevaluate the cause of your withdrawal and detachment.
You may be withdrawing without even realizing it; which is why it is important to do emotional checkups on a regular basis. If you are dealing with emotional, occupational, or overcommitment burnout, you may be experiencing:
- The desire to withdraw from your current relationships. Are you still communicating with your spouse and friends? Are you avoiding your regular friends and conversations at work and pulling to yourself?
- The feeling of being insignificant or invisible in all the things that you do. Do you feel like you are not making a difference and meshing well at work, home, or church? Do you feel like your work is never enough or never right?
- Have you lost the drive to chase your dreams? Or have you stopped dreaming altogether?
- Are you a people-pleaser and don’t know how to say no when someone asks you to take on another responsibility or attend another event? Even when it completely overwhelms your schedule?
- Are you in a state of being angry and just wanting to avoid your commitments completely?
If you are experiencing any of these scenarios, it could be an indicator that you are emotionally overwhelmed or experiencing occupational burnout or overcommitment burnout.
Occupational Burnout Work burnout can stem from months or years of working overtime, working multiple jobs from dusk until dawn, working at home once you leave the office, and checking your work email constantly; even when trying to have a nice breakfast with your family on a Saturday morning.
Occupational burnout stems from the inability to leave work at the office or press pause, say no to another weekend in the office, or to take some time away to rejuvenate and spend quality time with your loved ones. Occupational burnout does not happen overnight; it is the culmination of endless deadlines, no vacations or rest, and the inability to say no and choose work over everything else.
While it is healthy to be passionate about your job and to put your all into everything you do; it is also a necessity for your physical and emotional health to carve out time for rest and rejuvenation, date night with your spouse, and weekends that are focused on the family.
Working professionals, regardless of your job title or income, need time to breathe in the scenery of life – attending your nephew’s baseball games, going to brunch with girlfriends, or grilling out with your extended family.
Perhaps you have signed all five of your children up for various extracurricular activities and sports, serve on two committees at church, host a ladies Bible study at your house every week, and you are heading up Vacation Bible School this year; so you have to spend several Saturdays a month at the church planning.
You might be feeling the stress of overcommitment, which could lead to burnout. Parents often forget that the weekly practices, weekend games, and stressors of making all the arrangements can take an emotional and physical toll on the entire family.
It is important to keep this in mind when planning activities and sports for your families. Your emotional and physical health is more important than an overpacked schedule.
Learn the importance of saying no.Learning the importance of saying no can be a difficult concept to grasp, especially if you are a people-pleaser. Lysa Terkeurst said, “Not every opportunity is meant to be my assignment.” Learning to say no is a huge stepping stone to avoiding burnout and cultivating healthy relationships.
Do not feel like you need to lie or give a lengthy explanation just because you cannot take on something else. Sometimes we also need to learn to say no to ourselves – say no to that desire to check work emails constantly once you leave the office or say no to comparing yourself to a co-worker constantly.
Clear your schedule from time to time.
The body, mind, and soul need ample time to relax and reset on a regular basis. Ensure that you carve out time for weekend road trips, date nights with your spouse, fun activities with your kids, and do not feel the need to plan every minute of every day.
Carve out time to exercise and engage in calming activities.
The stress of an overwhelmed schedule takes a toll on you mentally, physically, and spiritually. Carve out time to go to the gym, take nature walks, listen to music, attend Bible study with your friends, and time to just be.
Take a step back to re-evaluate and prioritize.
If your life is jam-packed and overcommitted on every level, perhaps it is time for re-evaluating and re-prioritizing. Peter Drucker said, “Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.”
Establish a support system.
In times of feeling overwhelmed, overtired, and overcommitted, we often retreat from the people who know us best. Instead of retreating during times of intense stress or projecting our stress on others, let the people that love you and support you in. Confide in them when you are overwhelmed. Ask them for help in re-evaluating your current list of commitments.
Leave work at the office.
While sometimes it may be inevitable, perhaps you need to establish a new at-home routine if you are dealing with occupational burnout. Ask your husband to help you avoid checking work emails at the dinner table or while you are trying to enjoy a nice movie night at home with your family. Reconsider a new at-home ritual that is more focused on relaxation and rejuvenation to give your mind and body time to reset.
Find Help from Christian Counseling
If you are feeling overwhelmed, overtired, and overcommitted, know that Christian counseling may be a wonderful option to help you re-evaluate and re-prioritize your schedule. If you are a people-pleaser who wishes to say no but just does not know how to approach it, know that we can help you work through these steps to live your best life.
“River in the Wilderness”, Courtesy of Matthew Smith, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Glory and Wonder”, Courtesy of Victoria Palacios, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Tree Tops”, Courtesy of Casey Homer, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Mountain View”, Courtesy of Sergei Akulich, Unsplash.com, CC0 License