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Friday, October 7, 2011

Expecting to Recover

     Burnout is a term most everyone knows but do you know enough about it to recognize its symptoms?  Where you once had wonder and excitement you now have apathy and exhaustion. (which can be not only emotional but also mental and physical) Where you once had involvement and "efficiency" you now have a lack of involvement, depression and inefficiency.  Satisfaction and hope are replaced with cynicism and disillusionment.

Burnout is caused by a person's inability 
to deal with prolonged and excessive stress.  

     Stress causes each of us our own different and varying issues but burnout brings with it a growing sense of unhappiness and being totally overwhelmed.  At some point in our lives we will either come to the place where we recognize that we are somewhere along this road towards burn-out or that someone we care about is.  This subject is near and dear to my heart because earlier this year I finally had to come to the point where I realized that burnout is what I'm dealing with.  Now before you go thinking this is going to be a depressing post let me straighten this out - it isn't...I want to give help in coming back from burn-out.  

     I'm dealing with Homeschool burnout.  I know that I need to continue and that homeschooling is the best thing for my kids but the prolonged stress of being fully responsible to make sure they get a good education has worn on me. I don't look forward to getting up and homeschooling right now but I do it anyway because I need to.  At times I've had the support available to me that I needed but the majority of the time I've carried the load alone.  If you're a homeschooler and you've homeschooled for a while then you know the stresses we are placed under.  There is a level of expectation that others put on us because we deign to teach our own kids.  Then of course there is the level of expectation that we put on ourselves times wanting to prove something to ourselves and others.  This is coupled with the responsibilities of a home, our children's educations and any and all activities you're involved in.  Lastly you have the external and internal stresses including the environment you live in, your financial situation and your health or the health of those in the family.

Anyone can experience burn-out... no one is immune.

     Many will deal with burnout on their jobs and others with burnout in volunteer situations.  It has been my experience that burnout is most likely to happen in those situations where you begin with a determination to  prove yourself.  (But... understand... it doesn't matter what you are doing... if you deal with prolonged and excessive stress you can become burned out.)  If not careful the drive to prove yourself can lead to a very strong focus on your "job" to the point other things start getting excluded.  Now there is nothing wrong with drive, determination and focus.  They are not good or bad things.... it's what we do with them.  When we don't use them properly is when neglect comes in.... neglect of YOUR needs.  The meeting of your needs is a vital component of dealing with stress properly.  If you are not eating well, not getting a proper amount of sleep, and neglecting to take or use down time ... you will not deal well with the stresses you are under.  As your stress mounts you begin to lose all things you had before... focus, determination, drive, desire, passion, involvement, wonder and excitement.  What you once enjoyed you no longer care to do.

If you recognize yourself... take hold of hope again.  
You can recover, you can heal... you can enjoy life again.  

If this is you :
  • Seek out support.  You're not meant to be an island.  You're not meant to "deal" with this alone.  Others have been where you are.  Your friends and family are a vital and important part of your support system... be willing to ask for their help and support.  If you recognize that you need more help and/or support than your family and friends are capable of giving you then pursue the help and support you need.  
  • Slow down and take time off.  You've already worn yourself out and you MUST take a break.  This break is vital to dealing with your emotional, mental and physical state.  It's time to bring hope and joy back as well as to rebuild appetite and sleeping habits.  During this time off change any habits that tend to set you up for a more stressful day.  Take the time to assess your mental, emotional and physical state and chose your environment to appropriately and positively benefit you.
  • Rediscover what is important.  After you've done the first two stated above then you can deal with re-evaluating your priorities and how you got to where you're at.  If you're a caregiver who has the soul responsibility for someones care it's time to figure out what changes are necessary to balance things out.  If you're a volunteer who burned out -- what triggers your stress?  Do you feel that you have little to no control over what you do or is it a lack of recognition?  You need to find your trigger(s) and address them... and consider the reasons you volunteered to begin with.  If your job has you burned out -- do you have too many responsibilities? Have you neglected time to socialize?  Is your job chaotic or monotonous?  Evaluate your job and consider any changes that may be necessary.

     Healing takes time and a desire to continue on.  You need to be willing to "do" what's necessary.  This includes being willing to change attitudes and set pride aside.  It includes being willing to honestly assess your situation and get whatever help and/or support you need.  It includes being willing to change habits and rituals that have become detrimental in your life.  It's going to come down to a willingness to accept change but you can do it.... you didn't burn-out in one day so don't expect to "recover" in just one.

2 awesome comments:

  1. Thanks for posting this timely article. My wife home schools, I'm a full-time music and youth pastor, and our nine year old son has T-Cell Lymphoma. Needless to say we're experiencing exhaustion. So, your entry shared some much needed encouragement. God Bless.

  2. God bless you. You are definitely going thru a hard time. I pray God brings around you all the support you need and then some. Caring for a child with chronic health issues is hard enough without all the other responsibilities you have. I can understand your exhaustion. It is very easy to burn-out in your environment, you are constantly having to give out and minister to others... it's vitally important that others come alongside the two of you so that you can both get revived and filled back up. Make sure you take the time to do little things for each other... it goes a long way to help each of you reduce the stress you're under.


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