Dr. Andy Yarborough
February 21, 2022
burnout, mentalhealth, overcoming, leadership, health
Overcoming Burnout Part 2
If you haven’t already, be sure to read part 1 on this series of burnout. We talk about the prevalence of burnout, what it is, and I give you a resource that can help you identify signs of burnout in your life.
Now that we have a better idea of what burnout is and you’ve been able to assess whether you may have signs of it, I’d like to discuss 4 key areas that when deficient point to full-blown burnout. It’s possible to be low in one or two of these areas but not be in burnout. Burnout happens when all 4 areas are in a deficit.
But don’t worry, we’re not just going to talk about the problem of what happens when each of these areas is low, but we’re going to also talk about the antidote so you can take steps towards guarding yourself against a life of burnout.
4 Key Areas
1.Energy - When you start moving towards burnout in your energy levels it’s oftentimes exhaustion due to overextension. Overextension happens when you don’t have healthy boundaries. And how do you know if you have healthy boundaries? You know you have them when you’re able to steward your yes’s and no’s well. If you feel like your life has more demand than supply, it’s likely you have underdeveloped boundaries.
If you want to know more about boundaries, be sure to check out our series on boundaries.
The antidote to this area is healthy life rhythms. Healthy life rhythms are how we steward our energy well. An important concept to keep in mind when considering life rhythms is realizing we are whole people, and each part - while distinct - impacts the other areas. Your physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, relational, and vocational life are all parts of a whole. If one part is chronically out of rhythm, it’ll begin to impact the rest.
A life with healthy rhythms is a life that is full of energy and is guarded against burnout.
2. Purpose - As burnout continues to progress we begin to lose our sense of purpose in life. There’s no meaning. And because we’re struggling with finding meaning we begin to disengage from life. We move into our lives being on autopilot. Disengagement is particularly difficult because we can try to compensate for it with more energy. But if we’re overextended, feeling disengaged, and trying to force more energy to fill in that gap it’s like we’ve hit the gas on accelerating our burnout. Many times this key area being depleted only becomes evident when we’ve hit a wall.
Eventually, autopilot runs out and we can no longer perform or just go through the motions.
Our antidote to a life that is low on purpose is to lean into intentionality and meaning. We find intentionality and meaning in our lives as we lean into a sense of mission. Our mission is our why. It’s the underlying motivation behind what we do in every area of our lives. Articulating what this is and keeping it in front of us breathes a fresh air of purpose into our lives.
3. Connection - When you begin to feel disconnected from yourself and other people you’re moving deeper into burnout. As mentioned in the first blog of this series, you begin to feel depersonalization happen. You begin to feel numb and start to lose a sense of self. Your sense of empathy begins to fade as well. You become cynical of other people and fall into a regular feeling of isolation. This exacerbates burnout even further by making us bitter and unable to receive from others and from God.
The antidote to this begins with reconnection to self and others. We do this by first being self-aware. Before we ever take a step to “do anything” about feeling disconnected we need to first acknowledge its reality in our lives. It’s also important to allow people that we have healthy relational attachments with to speak into our lives. We are social beings and a vital aspect of how we stay healthy and refreshed is by giving others that we love and trust to invest in us even when we feel depleted ourselves.
4. Personal Efficacy - This area of burnout is when you feel like you’re terrible at things you know you’re actually good at. You begin to use negative self-talk about the core areas of your gifting.
“I’m such a bad parent.”
“I’m a terrible student.”
“I don’t know how to manage people.”
But if you’re honest with yourself, you actually thrive in these areas whenever you feel energized. Burnout begins to make us doubt ourselves, and we lose the belief that we’re good at anything. That we can’t actually contribute and bring value when the reality is we can and we do.
The antidote to this is confidence. But confidence is not in the way that we often think. You shouldn’t pursue confidence for the sake of confidence. Rather confidence is the by-product of inward development and outward development.
The inward development:
- Self-compassion - being honest, kind, and gracious with myself.
- Humility - having an appropriate view of myself (not too high or too low), being teachable, and considerate of others.
- Skill development - learning and growing in areas of practice.
- Character development - leaning into personal integrity and responsibility.
The outward development:
- Heart of a servant - finding opportunities to invest for the benefit of others.
- Infinite mindset - not comparing yourself to others to measure success but finding a greater goal that transcends your own glory.
- The concept of an infinite mindset is discussed at length in Simon Sinek’s, The Infinite Game.
When we foster those areas, confidence begins to be produced in our lives.
Burnout is something all of us are at risk of falling into. Life is demanding. It requires us to give and pour out. There are responsibilities we need to tend to and tasks we need to fulfill on a daily basis. As you apply the concepts taught in these blogs, my hope is that you’ll be able to live a life that is burnout-resistant and full of healthy engagement.
If you haven’t already and want to listen more in on this topic, see the link below to watch the conversation I had with ministry leaders regarding the topic of burnout.