How To Come Back From Burn Out

Courtesy of Leonid Mamchenkov/Creative Commons License

Walked into work the other day feeling a little under the weather.  As the day progressed it got worst and being the bright person that I am I decided to tough it out.  Again, not a smart idea.  I was able to function; however, it was difficult and I probably didn’t perform to my highest level.  When I got home, I told my family, “I just need to go to bed.”...it was 7pm.
I woke up the next morning 12 hours later feeling better, with a lot more energy; however, I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t rushing back into the day.  Worst thing would to be back where I started.
Not sure if you get sick a lot; however, I’m willing to bet that there are days, weeks and even seasons where you are just wiped and exhausted.  Maybe you know the reason and you know the work load will ease up.  But, then there are those times where you are just worn out, on the verge of burn out and you begin to question whether or not you are in the right place.   You start to become easily aggravated with coworkers and the days become painfully slow.  When this begins to happen, it’s important to treat it like you are physically sick or else you could find yourself in a pretty dark place.  So, if you are feeling like you are on the verge of burn out be sure to:

  • Take A Break – Even if it’s just one day, drop what you are doing and do your best to relax.  Just like when you are sick, you need your body to rest.  Stress and pressure can put a lot on our bodies and taking a break can give it that relief.  When you take a break you allow yourself to get out of the trees to view the whole forest.  And whether or not the burn out is legitimate you need to try some other perspectives.
  • Fuel Yourself – On top of taking a timeout, we need to make sure we nourish ourselves properly.  If you are sick you don’t want to get dehydrated; therefore, you know to drink plenty of fluids.  If you are worn out from work, it’s important to find the things that fuel you.  Whether it’s time alone with God or doing an activity that’s far from ministry you need to make sure you do what fills you.  There’s no chance of bouncing back if you are empty.
  • Allow Others To Love On You – When you were sick as a little kid there was nothing better than when mom would bring you some warm chicken noodle soup.  As cliche as it sounds, we know that we need tender loving care from others in order to survive the hardships of ministry.  Don’t be afraid to ask others for help, even if it’s just their insight.  I’m guilty of not doing this often enough.  You don’t want to try to do it on your own because you aren’t meant to do it on your own.  God has surrounded you with people to serve alongside of you, so take advantage of that blessing.
  • Start Out Slow – After taking a break, the inclination is to jump back in with both feet; however, chances are you’ll be back to where you were in no time.  Whether you are coming back from burn out, vacation, being sick or any type of break, be sure to do it one step at a time.  This can be done with small things like waiting to check emails until the afternoon, not scheduling meetings your first day back or going in a little later than usual.  Start out slow and then over time pick up the pace.

There are going to be those days, weeks and seasons when we feel as if we can’t do it anymore.  That’s a part of ministry.  Doesn’t matter why you are feeling the exhaustion, it’s just important to know that when you do, you need to take a step back, receive healing and a clear mind.  Ministry is a long journey, make sure you give yourself the pace you need to endure it.

What other tips would you give to the tired, exhausted and burnt out?