Burnout Recovery: SYS, Save Your Self


We have discussed the three different aspects of burnout: spiritual, mental, and physical. We also talked about the importance of self care and now I want to talk about how to combat burnout. It may not look like it right now but you can recover from burnout and prevent it from happening again. 

The first thing to do is admit that you are suffering with burnout. It’s time to be honest with yourself and realize it’s time to take back control of your life. You don’t have to keep going from chaos to chaos and from crisis to crisis. It’s time to stop the vicious cycle and here are some tips and practical things you can do right now to SYS: Save Your Self. 

  1. Wake up early. Make a plan to began getting up earlier in the morning. I use to get out of bed in just enough time to get ready for work. I set myself up for chaos by doing this. I started waking up 15 minutes early everyday for a week. The next week I got up 15 minutes earlier. I kept doing this until I now get up at 5:30 am every morning. Now I have time for prayer, bible study, exercise and breakfast all before getting ready for work
  2. Organize your day. Set goals for what you need to accomplish for the day. I have started making goals and lists for what I want to accomplish for the week on Sunday night. Each night look back at your weekly goals and plan your daily goals according to what you want to complete for the week. Sometimes goals change and you have to be flexible and account for distractions. Having a clear vision of what you want to accomplish helps to deal with those interruptions and problems quickly so you can get back on track. 
  3. Learn the art of saying NO. Not everyone’s emergency is your emergency. You don’t have to be everything for everyone. Sometimes the most empowering thing you can do for someone is tell them no and make them problem solve for themselves. We all have people in our lives that want to drain all of our energy and pull us into their wormhole of complaints and issues. Learn how to make those people problem solve for themselves. When they come to you with a problem or task for you to do, ask them what is their plan for solving the problem and taking care of it themselves. 
  4. Delegate. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Remember the saying if you want something done right, do it yourself? Well that’s a bunch of LIES! Give tasks away to people around you and give them a deadline to complete it. God has placed people around you who are more than capable of carrying out a plan of action. However you must always inspect what you expect. Give detailed instructions and follow up with members of your team for progress and keep them on task. There is nothing more gratifying than to have a team of people executing a plan perfectly with your guidance and leadership. 
  5. Reconnect with God. Talk to Him. Ask him to remind you of your purpose and mission. I pray throughout the day for wisdom and direction. Spend time in the morning in prayer. Jesus made the way available to us to have relationship with the Father. He can connect you back to your purpose and refresh you. Father God I pray for refreshing and repairing for your people in Jesus Name!
  6. Be thankful. Having a grateful heart eliminates negative thoughts. 
  7. Eat breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner.  The simplest things can be the easiest to forget. Don’t skip meals and eat clean and healthy, not junk through a fast food restaurant. Fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and lean meats can fuel your body and give you the energy you need throughout the day. If we were going on a long trip in our car we would get the oil and engine checked, tires checked and fill it up with gas. But when we get up in the morning for a 24 hour journey in our bodies we run on empty until we feel lightheaded or sick and then we eat. We treat our cars better than our bodies. If you skip meals or eat late in the day, then start eating earlier regardless if you’re hungry or not. 
  8. Drink water. Water hydrates us and flushes toxins out of our bodies that can cause increased stress. Water is refreshing 
  9. Sleep. Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep at night. This is the time that your body repairs itself. You need sleep. Sleep also aid in weight loss and it reduces stress. Studies have shown that people who sleep less than 6 hours regularly are at higher risk for developing dementia than people who sleep 7-8 hours routinely. 
  10. Exercise. Exercise like fast walking, running and lifting weights release hormones called endorphins. Endorphins are the “feel good” hormones in the body. Go on a good brisk walk in the morning and evenings to reduce stress.   
  11. Have fun! Do something you enjoy like going to the movies, the museum, go on a hike or get a massage. I like getting my hair and nails done for relaxation. I also like writing as hobby, hence the blog. What do you like to do? What brings you pleasure? As long as it’s not illegal or harmful to others and the environment go for it!  Have some fun for goodness sakes. 

If you are in crisis and you feel like you can’t take another second, then don’t. Go on vacation, take some time off from work. Just don’t make any decisions about your future when you are in this emotional state. Take sometime away to get yourself together. And if the thought of that is overwhelming to you (I’ve been there before) then seek professional help. I spent time with a life coach and he helped me to gain perspective on what I really wanted out of my life. With the help of a life coach I was able to get back control of my life. You may need a life coach or a counselor but there is help out there for you. Many companies have employee assistance programs that has counseling available. Some of these things cost money but you are worth the investment. 

God has so many great things for you. Don’t let burnout take you away from your dreams and aspirations. I know it gets hard and it seems like everyone wants a piece of you and you’re pulled in a million directions. No matter how out of control it gets you still have the power to Save Your Self. If you have questions, comments or just need prayer I am available. Just know that you can and will fight burnout and stay the course. 

SYS: Save Yourself; Recovering from Burnout

I am continuing the topic of burnout. We discovered the signs and symptoms of spiritual, mental and physical burnout. Now I want to focus on how to treat it. But before I get into that there is a little house cleaning I need to do first. 

When I give this talk to different groups this is the point when people check out emotionally.  Despite going through the checklist in their head and checking off all the symptoms they display of burnout, when it comes to self care people lose interest. For too long we have been led to believe that it is wrong to take care of yourself. We are told that it’s selfish to love yourself. This is a lie straight from the pit of hell. God never intended for us to work ourselves to the brink of exhaustion. We allow situations and circumstances to drive us instead of allowing Holy Spirit to guide us. For example, I went for years without buying clothes for myself and even went through a winter without a coat because I was convinced that I had to spend every penny I had on my children and my husband. I believed that their needs were more important than mine. I was just a stay at home mom and I did not contribute financially therefore I didn’t deserve to have clothes. It wasn’t until someone made fun of me for having holes in my clothes that my husband demanded I buy new clothes. My husband usually had to “make me” leave the house and do something fun and relaxing for myself. I love having a wonderful husband who cares about my well being and he wants to do nice things for me, but my attitude towards myself was deplorable. When you don’t take care of yourself you develop an attitude of I don’t deserve to be cared for. This attitude and thought process is breeding grounds for burnout. We all have needs and we need to fulfill those needs in order to be balanced. I took this attitude towards myself to the workplace. When I became a nurse I put my all into taking care of patients. I denied my needs and pushed myself so I could continue to care for my patients. 

This type of attitude is unhealthy. Eventually I had a hard time living up to this expectation.  Other people began to treat me the way I treated myself and that became an issue. I lost sight of who I was and what God had planned for me. This happens to so many of us. Recently I heard of a pastor of a mega church in Nashville stepping down from pastoring due to burnout. He announced his resignation to his church and he said something that stuck with me. He said “I gave my entire life to this ministry”. God has never required us to give our entire lives to ministry, family, work, hobbies, spouses, but He does require us to give our lives to Him. When you give your all to God, He gives back in multiples. 

Jesus took time away from the crowd. Throughout the Gospels you will find times when Jesus separated himself to be alone for prayer. If Jesus needed a get away, how much more do we need one. It is so important to love and care for yourself and step away from the pressures of life. Stop denying your emptiness and get full again. It is ok to do something nice for yourself. I have heard so many people say, “I wish someone will care for me the way I care for others”.  The truth is there is no one better equipped to take care of you than you. You know exactly what you need. If you treat yourself the way you want others to treat you, then the others will learn how to treat you. Get some time away with God. He can restore you and build you up. 

I had to learn that I am worth saving and I deserve to receive love, care and attention.  No one else can love me the way I love me except God. I am determined to never allow myself to get to a place of burnout again. I can only achieve this by vowing to save myself. I make the things that are important to me a priority and if it’s not important to you than tough because I’m taking care of me first. Someone is depending on you being in the best shape possible. When I take care of myself then that’s the first step in being able to do my greatest work. You are important and worth it. Say that to yourself everyday in the mirror. Own it and do it.  

I want to pray with you. Father God thank you for loving us. Fill us fresh father with your anointing. Show us ourselves in you and give us a fresh outlook. Revive us, renew, refresh, energize us. Heal those broken places and fill the emptiness with your love and purpose. Bring peace and calm to our minds so we can hear you clearly. Allow us to give from the overflow and learn that what is in the cup is for us. Show us how to take care of ourselves and to receive the healing and the practical things we can do to save ourselves from burnout. I come against the spirit of frustration and burnout in Jesus name and I loose fulfillment, rest and purpose in Jesus name. Amen!

Please feel free to read this over and over again until it sinks in that you are capable and worthy of saving yourself. I will talk to you real soon about practical ways to prevent and treat burnout. 

How to Handle Burnout

Several months ago I spoke to a group of social workers about burnout. The response I received was amazing. We often ignore the signs and symptoms of burnout but suffering prolonged stress can be detrimental to our spiritual, mental and physical health. I will spend the next several blogs discussing burnout and how to SYS: Save YourSelf. 

Let’s first look at the what burnout is. Burnout can occur spiritually, mentally and physically. Burnout is defined as physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or prolonged stress. We often identify  with physical burnout, ignore mental burnout and have no clue about spiritual burnout. It’s important to recognize all three so we can effectively treat burnout. No matter how stressed or hopeless you feel right now, burnout is treatable and preventable.  

Spiritual Burnout 

Our spirit contains the very essence of who we are. It connects us to our purpose and the reason why we are put here on this earth. The spirit of a man/woman keeps him/her on track for God’s great design for his/her life. If we neglect our spirit it becomes broken and weak. We lose our sense of who we are and our purpose. Spiritual burnout comes from a place of emptiness. When we constantly give of ourselves to others and fail to connect back to God to be filled, then we experience a void. Only God can fill that void. Some symptoms of spiritual burnout are loss of focus, no sense of direction, lack of sense of fulfillment. You began to ask questions like why am I here, what’s the point of going to work everyday, and my personal favorite why did I go to school for this?  You go from one crisis to the next and you are in constant chaos. Does any of this sound familiar? We often push through these signs and symptoms because we tell ourselves if we keep pushing maybe it will get better. But you find yourself spiraling out of control. It’s so important to take time out of our busy lives to spend time in God’s presence. He can fix our broken spirit and give us purpose again. There’s nothing like remembering back to the first time you discovered what your “thing” is. Think back to the first time you used you unique abilities, talents and gifts to make a difference in someone else’s life. Reconnecting to God puts us back in line with his purpose for us. If you’re not walking out God’s divine plan for your life, now is the time to discover it and do it.  Next we will look at mental burnout. Stay tuned

Part 2: Mental Burnout

Yesterday I talked about spiritual burnout. Today I want to continue the conversation with mental burnout. Mental burnout occurs after prolonged stress and spiritual burnout. It is characterized by the inability to pay attention, mental fog, memory loss, anxiety and depression. Over time you become detached  and apathetic and shut down emotionally. You no longer care about anything except merely existing. This is a dangerous place to be because hopelessness and despair sets in and you think your life will never change. Your mind race with negative thoughts and you lose the ability to cope. You have thoughts like I can’t make it through the day, I can’t take one more thing or this is too much to handle. Problems seem over the top and bigger than life. Even normal everyday stressors get overwhelming. Some people find themselves in a very real threatening crisis and mental breakdown maybe eminent. If these symptoms sound familiar to you I strongly encourage you to seek professional help. Counseling and therapy can really help an individual on the edge gain control again.  

We often ignore the signs of mental burnout. Our mind is the seat of emotions, thoughts, ideas and creativity. When stress takes over we lose our ability to think clearly and decisions are made based on negative thoughts and emotions. If you are experiencing mental burnout now is not the time to make life changing decisions. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭10:4-5‬ ‭KJV‬. Thoughts that say you will always live in chaos and never have peace on your job, at home, school or wherever the source of stress is coming from is a lie. It is possible to get your peace, joy and health back. Stop the negative thoughts in its track. 

Let’s pray. Father God I thank you that every person who reads this blog will recognize and acknowledge if mental burnout exists in there life. Give them peace and joy. Calm the anxiety now in the name of Jesus. Holy Spirit lead and guide us into all truth and help us to quiet the negative thoughts and feelings that keep us bound to stress. Thank you for healing in our emotions in Jesus name! Amen. Tomorrow we will talk about physical manifestations of burnout. 

Physical Burnout 

The last few days we’ve discussed spiritual burnout and mental spiritual burnout. Today I want to tackle physical burnout. We identify most with the signs and symptoms of physical burnout because they are hard to ignore. Some of those symptoms are lack of sleep, chronic fatigue, easily susceptible to illnesses due to low immune system, weight gain or loss, elevated cortisol levels. Some people may even experience chest pain, muscle aches, shortness of breath, dizziness and headaches. If you are experiencing these symptoms it could be the sign of a serious medical condition and I would advise you to seek medical attention. Prolonged periods of stress can have detrimental effects on your body. 

Elevated cortisol levels can lead to the body being in a flight or fight syndrome. Cortisol is the hormone that regulates parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system or fight or flight. These cascade of hormones controls the body’s response to stress. It can elevate blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and even cause the body to store fat. Prolonged elevated cortisol levels lead to weight gain and stubborn body fat. People also have a tendency to gain weight because they eat more when they are stressed. I know for a fact that I am a stress eater. When you are burnout and always feel pressed for time, you lack the energy or time to cook meals. The first thing you do is go through a drive thru. That food is higher in fat, sugar and sodium which also leads to weight gain. See a pattern here. Stress can cause you to eat more of the wrong foods due to convenience and you have hormones causing you to store fat. However, there are those who do the opposite. When they get stressed their stomach becomes upset or painful which causes them to avoid eating. If they are constantly stressed they eat very little or go for extended periods of time without eating. This could cause weight loss, but not in a good way. Instead of losing fat, the body holds on to fat and muscle is wasted. These people are usually thin but flabby or lack muscle tone and strength.  

Prolonged extreme stress is not good for your body. Self care is so important. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms it is important to see your doctor. This way you can rule out any underlying physical condition that can lead to chronic illness and get it treated quickly if needed. Next I will talk about how to combat burnout and prevent it. I have a lot of great tips to share that will really help get you on track. Stay tuned!

My Journey 

I have been on this healthier me journey for 3 years but I became serious about it on December 23, 2015. That was the day that I became sick and tired of being sick and tired. I always said by my 40th birthday I wanted to be fit and fabulous, but I procrastinated. By the time I hit 40  I weighed in the 180’s and by 41 I weighed 190 lbs.   Getting out of bed in the morning took 20-30 minutes because my knees ached. I had to take a pain reliever to go to bed and rub muscle cream on my joints in the morning to get up. My stomach hurt all the time and I was always tired. Sometimes I would drive with the car windows down just to keep from falling asleep on the way home from work in the afternoons. My other morning chore was getting ready for work. Going up and down the stairs in my home would cause severe shortness of breath. It would take 5 minutes to catch my breath after walking up 10 stairs. Walking down the stairs was hard on my knees. After showering, I would take another 5-10 minute break to catch my breath. I often had chest pains associated with stress and high level activity and my cholesterol levels were through the roof. As you can tell I was far from being fit and I did not feel fabulous. My turning point however was 12-23-2015. My coworker had bought us all calorie counting books for Christmas. I had been going to the gym since April of 2015 and was very faithful about going. I even got a few other coworkers to join the gym as well. But my eating habits were horrible and I was burnt out–spiritually, mentally and physically. I knew how to smile and  put on a front like I was ok, but I wasn’t. My coworkers and I were all eager to get started with diets at the beginning of the year and we knew these books would help. I got the smart idea to start using the book right away to count up how many calories I was currently ingesting. Of course I shared the idea with everyone else in the office and we decided to do it together. This book had calories broken down into fats, sugar, sodium and fiber from chain restaurants. At the time my favorite restaurant was Dairy Queen and I went every day. The day before I had a flame thrower 1/2 pound burger, onion rings, large sweet tea and a medium strawberry quake blizzard. All of that came to a whopping 3000 calories. I ate more than anyone else in that office combined! My coworkers laughed at me hysterically and laughed along with them, but inside I was angry. Not at them for laughing but at myself for being so out of control. I made a determination that day my life would change. I began to do the things that I knew were right to do. Instead of going through a drive thru I went to the nearest grocery store and bought a salad and water for lunch. I also bought fruit and unsalted nuts for a snack  and I was never going to feel that shame and embarrassment again. 

  When you are serious about change you start that second. That’s what I did. It took dedication and discipline I didn’t even knew I had to continue my healthy eating habits through the holiday season. I even baked cakes for my family and didn’t touch any of it. I stuck to eating vegetables, fruit and lean meat and increased water intake. I began getting up at 6 am everyday to pray and study scripture. I now get up at 5:15 am and my goal is to wake up at 5 every morning. I found a lady on Facebook by the name of JJ Smith who is the author of the 10 Day Green Smoothie Cleanse. She looked the way I wanted to look and she is a few years older than me so I bought her book. I had already bought smoothies from the Juice Bar and was familiar with making smoothies and juicing, but her book took me to another level. It was hard and it wasn’t always pleasant, but I started to notice a difference in the way I felt by day 6. My energy level improved, my chest pain was gone and my mood elevated. I had started doing a special weak knees exercise my husband sent me and my knee pain was improving. By day 10 I had lost 5 pounds, the most weight I had lost in a long time. I also fluctuated a lot in my weight but I was determined to keep going because I felt so good. By February 2016 I lost another 7 pounds. I kept doing the green smoothie cleanse once a month for 10 days. I struggled with moving the scale during those first six months but I learned to look for other victories to motivate me. I looked thinner and I felt great. Between prayer, renewing my mind, and healthy clean eating with movement, my life became healthier and happier. To date I have lost 40 lbs. and I am in a size 6 dress. I still want to lose another 5-10 lbs and have a completely sugar free diet. Sometimes I mess up and I don’t feel like exercising, but my goal is to get it right more than I get it wrong.  Like JJ says it’s not about perfection, but progress!

.24 Karat Leader

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