If you’re battling burnout at work, you’re in good company. Most professional women I know have struggled with it at some point during their careers. I definitely have. Scripture shows us that this syndrome was even around during biblical times.
I’ve been studying Elijah for the past six months, and this biblical giant had his own issues with on-the-job burnout. He was passionate about the work God gave him to do and faced down numerous threats against his life. He was obedient and trusted God. His spiritual accomplishments were all at the c-suite level. But none of this exempted him from burnout. It hit him at what we would call the height of his career. Many times, that’s when it hits us, too.
So, what exactly is workplace burnout? It happens when you experience work-related stress over a long period of time. There’s a story about a frog in a pot of cool, comfortable water. It doesn’t jump out when the heat is turned on. The water gets warmer and eventually boils, but then then it’s too late for the frog.
Signs of Burnout at Work
When we experience burnout in the workplace, it builds gradually and affects every part of our well-being: emotional, physical, and spiritual. We don’t take preemptive action because we don’t realize we’re in trouble until the pot boils over and the classic burnout symptoms appear. We find ourselves:
- dissatisfied with our work, even though we love what we do.
- cynical and apathetic instead of engaged and energized.
- detached from peers and the workplace in general.
- uncertain about our career choice, decisions, or contributions.
Physically, we’re exhausted at the end of every day. We often have headaches and trouble sleeping. On top of all this, we feel spiritual fatigue and guilt. The \ion from workplace burnout leaks over into our spiritual health and other areas of our life. The time we spend with God, the Christian community, and our families begins to suffer.
How to Overcome Burnout
Unlike the frog in the story, we have the power to overcome our circumstances. Here are seven things you can do to overcome workplace burnout:
- Recognize that you’re not alone.
- Step back from work. This may mean a vacation, a long weekend, or short breaks during the day. Distance will help you get to the bottom of what’s causing the burnout.
- Understand that burnout itself is a symptom of a bigger issue. I’m a recovering workaholic and perfectionist. Many times, job burnout raises a red flag to let me know that I’m off-balance in one or both of these areas. Other times, burnout happens when we stay in a toxic work environment or with a toxic boss.
- Evaluate your options. If you’re able to pinpoint the root cause of the burnout, then you can decide what to do about it. Workplace burnout is almost always pointing you toward a change.
- Resist the desire to isolate yourself. Talk to other women in the Christian community about what you’re feeling. Tell your friends and family about your struggle.
- Hang onto your healthy habits. Don’t forfeit quiet time, Bible study, or activities you enjoy. Exercise and rest.
- Pray and ask for prayer. God created us, and He understands us fully. Ask Him for discernment, clarity, and help.
What God Can Do About Burnout
When he hit bottom with burnout, Elijah prayed. He was honest with God, “I have had enough, Lord, he said” (1 Kings 19: 4, NIV). After Elijah rested, God fed him, gave him instructions, and renewed him. Workplace burnout is not a new problem for God. He brought Elijah through it, and He’ll do the same for you.