By Bob Belohlavek, life coach for Kalmbach Feeds
Four phrases come to mind when considering our culture today. It’s fast-paced, stress-filled, demand-saturated, and relationship-starved. It’s understandable then, in light of such conditions, why good people burn out.
It’s a state of mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion brought on by too much stress over a long period of time. If you’ve been “crazy busy” for as long as you can remember, don’t be surprised if you lose enthusiasm, energy, perspective and purpose. Burnout feels as if you’re merely putting in time, not making waves, barely getting by, or going through the motions. Even though we may do our best with what we have to give, we may also find ourselves feeling as if we’re “at the end of our rope” during prolonged periods of work-related or personal stress.
Burnout creates a feeling of never-ending exhaustion. Symptoms of fatigue flag the fact that something’s wrong. Common indicators may include backaches, neck aches, headaches, or migraines. At the same time, some suffering from burnout may have an inability to sleep, loss of appetite or a never-satisfied appetite. Other symptoms can include allergic reactions or constant colds, digestive upsets (e.g., ulcers), or coronary-related issues (e.g., high blood pressure, mini-strokes).
We might experience:
• Disillusionment (i.e., spiked feelings of failure or self-doubt)
• Cynicism or negativism
• An increase in irritability
• A sense of hopelessness
• Difficulty in concentrating or paying attention
• Disorientation or confusion (e.g., missing or being late for meetings, making mistakes more frequently)
• Paranoia (i.e., the feeling of “everyone is against me”)
• Withdrawal to the point of affecting our capacity to be decisive.
Those suffering from burnout might feel unusually overwhelmed by another person’s problems or wonder what “normal” looks like. We can get unnerved as we face an uncertain future. Burnout can cause us to detach ourselves from interpersonal closeness, look down on others or react negatively to them, so as to feel better about ourselves. We can develop an attitude of “I wish people would go away and leave me alone” and become impatient or noticeably irritable in relationships. Burnout fuels our frustration by stoking our helplessness. We can also experience false guilt by becoming overly responsible or over-committed, then get angry and depressed about our seeming inability to function as we once did.
• Become internally tied up in knots, anxious, worried, bothered, upset (e.g., the “Martha Syndrome”)
• Lose perspective
• Gradually notice that we’re slowly drifting away from God
• Discontinue our practice of personal spiritual patterns (e.g., prayer, Bible reading, reflection)
• Depend more heavily upon our own ability to address our problems rather than relying upon God to do what we can’t.