Welcome to the Rodeo
We are living in an age where it often seems as if we have to do everything and we have to be on all the time. It was bad enough in the recent past when most of us worked more hours than we should have, and often felt like we were hamsters on a treadmill. It seemed that no matter how fast or furious we worked, we never seemed to get ahead or were even able to take a deep breath and relax. Today, with the COVID-19 and people having to stay at home, it seems as if our daily workloads have doubled or even tripled and as a result, more and more of us are feeling burned-out. Today I want to talk about burnout, how we can recognize that we might be experiencing burnout, and if so, what steps we can take to deal with it.
How do we know if we are experiencing burnout? We need to pay attention to how we feel, to the messages our bodies are sending us. I was on the phone with a friend and as we spoke, I asked how she was feeling. She said, at the end of the day, all she wanted to do, was plop down on a couch and not move. I have often felt the same, the day ends, and I feel weak and exhausted; or as my dad used to say, I feel like I’ve been rode hard and put away wet. Usually that also means that during the day, things haven’t gone as I wanted them too and I feel frustrated and aggravated, very much like the words in Psalm 38:8 “I am benumbed and badly crushed; I groan because of the agitation of my heart.” Over the years, I’ve read that verse and never really understood what it meant, until recently, when things have begun piling up and there doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel. As I mentioned earlier, sometimes I feel like I’m stuck on a hamster wheel and going nowhere. All my work seems fruitless, there just isn’t any end in sight and even when I finish a job, it’s not quite satisfying. In 1 Kings 19:14 “Then he said, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.’” Those words were from the Prophet Elijah and he was frustrated and was venting to the Lord. He’s saying, look I’ve done everything I was supposed to and yet it seems to all be in vain. No matter what, there’s just nobody saying, “good work” and that happens all the time in our world. We spend hour after hour working on a project, it’s finished, and the response from the boss is, “ok”, not a “good job”, a “well done”, just a mediocre almost pat on the back. We all want to feel needed and the work we do respected, when it isn’t we begin to burnout, we wonder, ahh what’s the point? Once we get to that mental state, then the next thing that happens seems to be a wave of anxiety or almost a crushing feeling hits us and we feel overwhelmed.
In Psalm 69:1-2, we read, “Save me, O God, For the waters have threatened my life. I have sunk in deep mire, and there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and a flood overflows me.” I don’t know how many folks have ever been in flood waters that were flowing so fast you couldn’t stand up; or tried to walk in a river bed that was muddy and your feet keep getting stuck and it’s a struggle to move; or in surf so rough that no matter how hard we try it keeps knocking us down. I’ve been in those situations and there’s a feeling of helplessness and often of fear. When we begin to feel like we’re suffocating, when we feel like we’re drowning, or simply beating our head against a wall, it’s another symptom that we might be feeling the effects of burnout. It’s a natural human emotion, of trying to do too much, too often, so the question becomes is there any antidote for burnout”?
Yes of course there is, the first thing we can do, or try to do is, whenever possible delegate, we don’t have to do everything ourselves,