Avoiding burnout: Warning signals (Week 3)

October 18, 2018

The Counseling Corner

By Rev. Judith T. Lester, B.Min. M.Th

“…he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.” – Ps. 23:2b-3, NIV

In continuation of the series “Avoiding Burnout,” it is important to know the signs to look for, the warning lights that signal burnout. In an article titled: Warning Signals You Can’t Afford to Ignore, author Sherri Bourg Carter, Psy.D. identifies the following warning signals:

Physical signs, such as chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, stomach pain, sleep problems, frequent headaches, chronic fatigue, gynecological problems, and/or increased illness.

Psychological signs, such as loss of enjoyment for activities once enjoyed; sadness; excessive anxiety or worry; panic attacks; feeling trapped without options for relief or escape; loss of motivation; loss of concentration; emotional hypersensitivity at seemingly inconsequential things; feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, or pessimism; and/or increased feelings of irritability, frustration, or anger.

Behavioral signs, such as skipping meals; little or no appetite or overeating; increase in alcohol or drug use; increased absenteeism; drop in productivity; many uncompleted projects despite long work hours; and/or isolative behaviors, such as wanting to be alone, closing doors to prevent others from access, being generally inaccessible, eating lunch alone, or being a poor team player.1

How to avoid running on empty

When a person is emotionally, spiritually or mentally exhausted, they must learn to “be still…” and fix their “eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Psalms 46:10, Hebrews 12:2). The devil wants to keep us busy to get our eyes and mind off Christ, but Christ is the answer to burnout. David reminds every child of God in Psalms 23:2b-3a when we allow God to shepherd us, God will guide us to quiet waters and at the same time “restore my soul.” The transliteration of the Hebrew word “restore” is “shuwb” (pronounced “shüv”) and it means to refresh, and repair. The word “soul” used here means self, life, person, mind, living being, desire, emotion, and passion. When one is exhausted, weary and anxious, peace will come when they rest in the presence of the Shepherd. (See John 14:27). In return, God will reinvigorate, refresh and strengthen a person’s spirit. Guard your relationship with God. Carve time out in your weekly schedule for praying, reflecting, resting, journaling, bible study and the worship of God. Eating healthy, regular exercise along with personal boundary setting will also assist in avoiding burnout. (See Psalms 127:2 cf. Psalms 1).

1 Carter, Sherrie Bourg, “Warning Signals You Can’t Afford to Ignore,” (Psychology Today, January 2011).

Next week: Conclusion: Setting Boundaries

The writer does not assume responsibility in any way for readers’ efforts to apply or utilize information or recommendations made in this article, as they may not be necessarily appropriate for every situation to which they may refer. Further, this information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your medical doctor or health care provider. If you would like to contact Rev. Lester, write to her c/o P.O. Box 121, Brookfield, WI. 53008.