October 2020

Mental Health Moment

Today’s Topic: Burn Out

Anybody need relief from feeling burned out?

Did you know that when we put words to name our reality, our reality will have less control over us?  This process results in symptom relief.  We could all use a little bit of relief, right?  

Add Coronavirus to the complexities of life each of us experience and no doubt 2020 is taking so much energy just to survive.  To do the things we have to do for ourselves, our families, our work, those who are relying on us to care for them, and beyond.

no doubt 2020 is taking so much energy just to survive.

Who’s exhausted?

Let’s spend a few minutes diving into what exhaustion is all about – we’re not talking about the exhaustion that is relieved by a good night’s sleep or a weekend off – we’re talking about the exhaustion that may look like this:

Think about something you really enjoy doing – something that fills your tank – maybe you can’t wait to go for that bike ride, dinner out, time with your grandkids, but now when you think of these times that bring you pleasure – your left feeling heavy, unable to enjoy these pleasures. 

Simply stated, your endorphins are shut down – the energy to do what is needed – is spent, so when time comes to do what brings you pleasure – the energy is just not there.

Burnout is the state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion.  Keep in mind – this can be mild, moderate, severe and profound.  Burnout leads to depression.  Let’s take a closer look at how this happens in our lives.

What would your list look like – if you were to pause and write down your responsibilities – personal, family, work, and beyond?  In addition to typical day to day responsibilities – add what it looks like to adapt, increase flexibility because normal just is not normal – due to coronavirus.

Now – write out your list of resources to get these responsibilities accomplished.  Your resources could include time, people, $, training sessions – etc. – you fill in these blanks.

Burn out is when you have an over balance of responsibility to resources for an extended period of time. 

We do know that God fills us up – with the Bible, prayer and the Holy Spirit – this is vertical refuel.

We all have this – from time to time – it’s not something that is easy to avoid – however paying attention to it is so helpful.

In regards to our responsibilities – what does your list look like?  Too many?  We know we have too many when resentment peeks in.  As you take a real honest look at your list,  explore your list by asking these questions:

  • What are my responsibilities and which ones are somebody else’s responsibilities that I am taking on?
  • What would it be like for you to begin to build strength in setting boundaries by passing others’ responsibilities back to them,
  • What would it be like to ask for help?  Delegate?
  • Recognize that NO is a complete sentence.
  • Leave margin in your life for things that are important for you.

We are to own and take care of our responsibilities – leaving others to take care of their responsibilities. I wonder how many of us are spending our energies in areas we weren’t meant to with resources we simply do not have – this is Burn Out.  When you are miserable enough – a shift will occur. 

Now that we know what Burn Out is – what can we do about it?

  • Increase your resources.
  • Evaluate and decrease your responsibilities.
  • Admit that we only have so much time – this is a good thing, a necessary thing that lets us know that we need to cut back, prune, delegate others, ask for help – engage our family members in the responsibilities – shamelessly asking for their time, with goal being to bring balance in our responsibilities and resources. 
  • Learning to say no to the right things – leaves room for what’s most important for me.

How many of us – at the end of a work day, have nothing left – simply transitioning to our evenings empty – saying no to our families – giving our best during the day to our work.  Perhaps this leads to burn out.  Our families, by design, are our fuel.  Maybe we are just too exhausted to be with them. (However, for some, families can be the source for burn out.  In that case, family therapy is an option.)

We do know that God fills us up – with the Bible, prayer and the Holy Spirit – this is vertical refuel.

Did you know there is a powerful horizontal refuel as well?  Research indicates that just the right kind of people who are there for us, have the power to refuel us mentally, emotionally and physically.  The profound effect that the right kind of people have is real.  The Power of the Other by Henry Cloud and People Fuel by John Townsend provide insight into how to build sustainable relationships that fuel you to the core.  When we know people are there for us, this changes everything.   You and I can be completely exhausted and spend time with our comrades – and our energy is restored – this is scientific evidence-based research.  Putting the right kind of people around us has the power to refuel us in extraordinary ways.

So, for those who are banking on will power, powering through, to make it through another day,  this kind of thinking is over rated and most often leaves you defeated.

What would it look like for you to choose a path that includes support from a safe person who is there for you?  This is the kinda person that is there to hand you a fresh warm towel as you get out of the cool pool after a swim.  You may be exhausted but with this hand up – you’ve been given what it takes to keep going. 

For those who are exhausted, driven by the concern that you  just don’t want to let anyone down – you’re burning on both ends – your responsibilities are greater than your resources.  Your need to be needed may just be what’s driving you to Burn Out!

What would it be like for you to ask for help?

Maybe in this moment, you’re sensing a bit of anxiety.  Hearing this is stirring you up.  Pay attention.  Ask yourself – what am I really afraid of? 

Ask yourself, “What resources must I increase this week?  What responsibilities must I decrease this week?  Who am I going to ask for help?  Which of these responsibilities am I going to give to the person they belong to?

The answer to this question just might provide the insight you’re searching for.

Sherrie Leatherwood

Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern

Want to chat more about this?  Sherrie@Leatherwoodcounseling.com

The counselors at The Christian Counseling Center at MorningStar provides faith based Christian counseling in Tampa and surrounding cities. We have counselors who specialize in all stages of life, including children counseling, teen counseling, marriage counseling, and individual counseling for various struggles such as anxiety, trauma, grief, narcissism and more. More information can be found on our website at www.cccmstar.org.

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