By Gail Marsh
Burnout happens to the best of us, because the best and most productive people in ministry are the ones Satan targets most. Burnout is real. It happens with alarming frequency among people in many of the helping professions—but especially to those who are tasked with carrying the Gospel message to the people in their care.
As ministry programs wrap up for the summer, you’re probably breathing a sigh of relief. But if your stress level and anxiety aren’t going down, take notice. Be aware of the warning signs of burnout:
- Sleep issues. You may experience insomnia, chronic fatigue, or both. Having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep only makes the fatigue worse. Soon, you feel emotionally and physically exhausted.
- Lack of productivity. You aren’t getting as much done as you usually do. Even when you work on something, your concentration is off. You may become forgetful or unable to keep your attention focused on jobs that need to be done.
- Physical symptoms. Along with fatigue, you may experience heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and headaches. You may find that you get sick more often, experience nervousness, and have decreased appetite.
- Irritability. You may become short-tempered or easily upset with co-workers or family members. You may be overly critical of yourself—your looks, your job performance, your roles in life.
- Isolation. You no longer want to spend time with others. You often feel lonely at work. You disconnect at home.
Not everyone with burnout experiences all of these symptoms, but even having a few symptoms can signal that you are beginning the downward spiral of burnout. You need to take action so that you can reverse the spiral—now. Consider taking the following steps this summer:
- See a professional counselor or your medical doctor to discuss your symptoms along with possible solutions.
- Talk with family members and trusted friends and ask them to pray for you. Speak with co-workers to brainstorm ways to reduce stress or other ways to help you cope.
- Exercise regularly. Whether it’s a brisk walk during your lunch break, or a full workout after work, be consistent!
- As much as possible, eat healthy foods. Work with family members to plan balanced meals, and keep healthy snacks on hand.
- Limit social-media time. Much of what’s trending is negative. Surround yourself with positive and upbeat in-person Christian influences instead.
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