It seems like we are all fighting the feeling of ‘Burnout’
“I am benumbed and badly crushed; I groan because of the agitation of my heart.” Those words in Psalm 38 verse 8 express how many of us feet today. A feeling of being numb, of having no way out, aggravated we find ourselves suddenly thinking, “So much to do, so little time to do it” and we become frustrated. We are experiencing burnout.
Our society is going so fast, there is so much going on that it is getting more and more difficult for us to slow down and relax. As a result, of our new faster paced life, more and more of us are experiencing burnout. We just cannot put up with it anymore. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the official definition of burnout is “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration”.
We are seeing the results of this burnout manifested in several areas; the amount of prescription drugs used and abused and the number of suicides occurring have both increased over the past several years.
According to a report by the CDC – An estimated 52 million Americans use prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons at least once in their lifetimes – with some using prescription drugs for recreational purposes. While the official ‘reasons’ so many of us use recreational drugs may be debated by the medical community, it seems to me, that of the people I know who have turned to drug use, the reasons are pretty straightforward; bored with life, or overwhelmed by life.
One of the saddest outcomes of our drug addiction is many of us and our friends and family are dying from drug usage. Deaths by overdoses involving prescription painkillers quadrupled since 1999. Every day, about 50 Americans die from prescription painkiller overdoses. Every year, prescription painkillers cause more than 16,000 deaths and for those who do not die, a lot end up in the hospital in fact, there are an average of 475,000 emergency room visits.
Sometimes we turn to alcohol instead of prescription drugs, thinking this is a less harmful way to deal with our symptoms of burnout. Unfortunately when we overdue alcohol the results can be just as deadly as drug use. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, nearly 88,000 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the United States. In 2014, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 9,967 deaths (31 percent of overall driving fatalities).
Often though, when we are suffering from burnout, we might seek out a final solution to our problems, and that solution is more and more likely to be suicide. One of the side effects of burnout is depression and if the depression is deep enough, if the depression is untreated, in many cases, the result is we will take our own life. In 2014, 13 people out of every 100,000 took their own lives, compared with 10.5 per 100,000 in 1999. The suicide rate increased every year from 1999 to 2014 among both women and men and in every age group except those 75 and older.
Burnout is a serious problem, so the questions are; how can we recognize when we are experiencing burnout and is there an antidote for burnout that does not include drugs, alcohol, or suicide?
Once we know what to look for the symptoms of burnout are evident, we feel weak, exhausted while doing our work – just a feeling of blah. We just want to get away. Is there any way to escape those feelings? Personally, I have discovered that when I am beginning to experience the feelings of burnout, I try to call on the Lord for help. The words in Psalm 69 verse 1 and 2, express how I feel and what my plea is, “Save me, O God, For the waters have threatened my life. I have sunk in deep mire, and there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and a flood overflows me.” When I read those words, it helps me to recognize exactly how I am feeling and gives me the realization that I need to make some changes in my life. That if possible, I need to avoid burnout; but how can I avoid it is the question.
One helpful method is to make sure we get consistent rest. There is nothing so important that we have to risk our health to do it. If we listen to the words in Exodus 23:12 “Six days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day you shall cease from labor so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female slave, as well as your stranger, may refresh themselves.” We now live in a world where things are going on 24 hours a day 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Many families have their lives scheduled so tightly that they never have time for each other. Parents are driving their children here and there; to this event or that event and life is one constant taxi trip. People are working longer hours, (often for less money) in order to make ends meet.
We do these things because we are worried about the future. We are anxious about tomorrow, what we should do is turn our anxiousness to Jesus. In Matthew chapter 11 verses 28-29, He tells us: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Raised with the belief that we should be able to handle everything we encounter by ourselves, it is sometimes difficult for us to ask for help for others much less turn things over to Jesus. The reality is there are those times when we are in over our heads and we cannot go it alone.
At that moment, when we feel as if we are drowning, when we feel as if we are stuck in quick sand, or when we feel like we are spinning our wheels; rather that reaching for drugs, reaching for booze, or reaching for a way out, we need to swallow our pride and reach up to Heaven.
This simple prayer can help bring more relief than any worldly solution: “Dear Heavenly Father, I know that you are in charge of the Universe. I know that you have a grand plan for us. I believe that you sent your Son, my Lord, and Savior Jesus Christ to live and walk among us and to die for us. I believe that you raised Him from the grave and that He sits at your right hand. Father, I ask that you send the Holy Spirit into my life whenever I begin to feel my life has begun to unravel and when I am on the verge of suffering complete burnout. Thank you – Amen.”
Jesus is knocking at the door, please open it, and let Him in. Jesus will walk with you every day if you simply allow Him into your life.