I check the outside temperature each morning, especially during spring with its wide swings. Why? I like to be prepared and dress appropriately!
Similarly, there exist predictors, temperature readings, so to speak, that indicates the likelihood of burn out.
Burnout is a state of emotional exhaustion and depletion from which it takes a while to recover. It’s a result of chronic stress that has been slow cooking, then finally reaches a boiling point resulting in some form of physical or emotional breakdown.
Burnout debilitates our performance and mood. We should seek to see it coming and avoid it where possible.
So, how to do that?
Our emotions tell a lot about our stress and coping. Like checking a weather report, we can tune in to our own emotional state and learn much about our level of stress.
Knowing signs and symptoms of too much stress and impending burnout can serve to forewarn us of danger ahead and allow us to make strategic changes. Knowing and monitoring theses emotional signals can enable us to take pre-emptive steps to avoid the debilitating effects of burnout and maintain or regain emotional health.
These signs may vary from person to person.
In my case, when my stress level gets too high, I fatigue more quickly. I become anxious or upset over things that would normally would not trouble me. My short term memory worsens. And unfortunately, given enough stress, I get dark circles under my eyes!
All those signal me to make a little more margin in my life or at least get away to recharge.
We are really never too busy to do this, even though we often think we are. Jesus, our example in all things, while in the middle of ministry, led his disciples to take some time away to refresh themselves:
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mk. 6:31).
Ideally, we all work on mastering our mindset, tending to our physical health, and maintaining our spiritual connection to manage stress and avoid burnout. Yet despite our best efforts, our situation or even our own drive can deplete our emotional resources.
At those times, tune in to your own emotional thermometer to monitor your stress level. Then take the time to correct your course.
After all, we all want to be in this for the long haul.
What are the signals that let you know your stress is getting to high?