How to Avoid Burnout
Working in sports can be unrelenting, overwhelming, and highly demanding. It is a tough, time-consuming, and oftentimes thankless job. If you work in sports, you’re likely a high achiever, prone to workaholism, and willing to sacrifice your sanity and health to get a job or to achieve a goal.
The temptation to think of what could be or how you can get to your next spot can cause you to fear what the future may hold and keep you from setting roots or building community. Furthermore, if you have less than ideal coworkers, supervisors, or customers, your work requires that much more emotional, mental, and physical energy. Without taking proper precautions, this type of lifestyle can quickly start you down the path to burnout.
Burnout happens when physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion outweighs a person’s ability to deal with the demands of their environment. In a job, burnout often shows up when present and past problems or tasks continue to pile up. It can manifest in various ways, but it often means losing your passion, creativity, and drive. This can result in feelings of helplessness and general negativity toward your work, relationships, and daily life (James & Gilliland, 2017).
If you’re burned out, you may sleep but wake up feeling tired, you may work hard but see few results, and you may contemplate leaving your job. Burnout also negatively affects both personal and professional relationships, causing you to want to give up on them. Unfortunately, burnout can be hard to recognize because it is a slow process that happens over a long period of time. You may not even see it happening before it’s too late!
I am notorious for staying too busy and never taking time to rest. I tend to be a workaholic, jumping from one activity to the next, sometimes for days on end. This allows me to get a lot done in a relatively short amount of time but never gives me a chance to breathe (or sometimes even sleep), and then it starts to catch up with me.
I’ve recognized my signs of burnout are increased cynicism, losing track of plans or details, drinking boatloads of coffee, and never taking time to sit down and just exist. These are all signs to me that I need to slow down. I wish I had been more aware in my own life so that I could have avoided the detrimental effects of burnout. I’ve been learning that the Lord didn’t create us to constantly be moving.
David says in Psalm 23 that God “makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.” The Hebrew phrase for “makes me lie down” is râbats. One definition of râbats is to “cause to rest or sit,” and by implication, “to recline” (Strong's Hebrew Lexicon). It may seem counterintuitive, but taking time to rest will actually increase your productivity, and physical and mental health, and equip you to be fully present for the important events and people in your life.
If you’re able to recognize the symptoms of burnout in your life, you can then take precautionary steps to avoid the negative impact of burnout in your life. Your relationships, your health, your job, and your peace of mind are worth the time it takes to combat burnout in your life!
There are many ways to help bring your system back into equilibrium. The most important deterrent to burnout in my life has been community. Social support is not only proven to lower burnout rates and prevent other health issues, but it is a way of life that the Lord promotes.
Galatians 6:2 instructs Jewish Christians to carry each other’s burdens and Ephesians 4 reveals the importance of working together as the body of Christ. This includes “bearing with one another in love,” (v. 2), “speaking the truth in love,” (v. 15), and living in holiness, allowing the Holy Spirit to remove anger and bitterness” (v. 31).
As someone who has a hard time accepting help, relying on social support has been a learning process that has had a huge positive impact on my health. It is vitally important to surround yourself with healthy people who will support you when you need it most! I can’t count the number of times this year that my friends have urged me to rest or eat or just take general care of myself. Spending time with friends who know me, who can be a sounding board for me, and who are willing to tell me when I’m overworking has been extremely helpful for me. If you don’t have these types of friends, it’s worth the time to find them!
A critical way to battle burnout is to bring the Lord into your struggles. Jesus brings rest to the weary (Matt 11:28)! Complaining to Him, spending intentional time with Him, and finding space in your schedule for solitude are going to be critical to avoiding burnout in your life. Jesus urged his disciples to rest and find a quiet place after they had spent time teaching and pouring into people (Mark 6:30-32).
Are you following His example and taking time to rest? Are you bringing your issues to the Lord and your community or are you trying to take them on in your own power? If you’re trying to take everything on by yourself, you’re really just making life harder for yourself and stifling God’s ability to move in your life.
I would encourage you to identify the stressors in your life and take proactive steps to remove them or, if they can’t be removed, make a plan to better cope with them. Taking basic care of your body, such as going on walks, seeing the sun, eating nutrient-dense food, and drinking more water than coffee can work wonders to help you deal with issues more effectively. No matter how tough or resilient you think you are, no one is immune to burnout!
Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms? To help keep your body in equilibrium, it’s important to realistically evaluate where you’re at. When you notice any of these symptoms, it’s time to take action!
Symptoms of Burnout (James & Gilliland, 2017):
Isolation from others
Lack of creativity
Complaining and negativity