How to Prevent Burnout & Implement Rest

You’ve probably heard the word “burnout” before–it’s become a common expression, which isn’t a good thing! 

Psychology Today defines “burnout” as “a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress,” and it can show through feelings of dread, exhaustion, depression, lack of motivation or energy, and anger.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? It does to me! 

A few months ago, I started wondering why I didn’t want to do any of my usual responsibilities. I found myself showing up to events and not wanting to talk to anyone. I began to feel resentful whenever anyone asked me to do anything for them. I also felt envious of people who had free time and opportunities for fun activities in their schedules.

One day, a friend of mine finally asked me what was wrong because my negative attitude and physical exhaustion showed. That’s when I realized I needed to address my feelings of burnout. 

Maybe you can relate to what I went through, or you know someone else who’s experiencing this. If so, I hope these tips help!

1. Admit that you’re feeling burned out 🙊

For me, this was a big step. 

I told myself I didn’t have the right to consider myself “burned out” because everything I was doing was what I should be doing, and everyone around me seemed to be doing twice as much. 

But comparison is unhelpful when everyone has different mental, emotional, and physical capacities. Don’t think of yourself as weak for admitting that you’re facing burnout; taking rest when you need it is actually brave and bold!

2. Learn when to say ‘no’ 🙅‍♀️

Before you decide to commit to something, ask yourself if it’s actually your responsibility. Maybe it is, or maybe it can be someone else’s. 

What’s motivating you to say ‘yes’? 

Is it pride (thinking that you’re the only one who can do this)? Or maybe fear (of what other people will think of you)? 

Along with considering these questions, it might also be helpful to remember that saying ‘no’ at the beginning is better than saying ‘yes’ and changing your mind later because you overcommitted.

Sometimes what’s wearing us down is out of our control. Culture shock, for example, is a major stressor that can add to a feeling of burnout. Difficult relationships with roommates or professors can also be a source of stress. That’s what makes the next two tips important!

3. Know what causes you to feel rested and reenergized, and make time for those activities in your schedule 🌞

When was the last time you did something fun and life-giving? If you can’t remember, then maybe it’s time to explore a new or old hobby that you find enjoyable! 

Personally, I love baking, reading, and rock climbing. I try to plan these activities into my weekly schedule because I feel refreshed afterward, and am actually better able to focus on work.

I’m an introvert, so being alone gives me energy. That’s why my favorite hobbies are solitary ones. But if you are an extrovert, your needs are different! You might need to make sure you’re spending time with friends or family regularly in order to feel energized.

4. Ask a friend or a group of friends to help you to rest 🧑‍🤝‍🧑

Like many things, rest is best done in a community. 

What if you invite your coworkers, classmates, friends, or family members to take some time off to do something fun with you? Or ask them to remind you not to work on the day you said you wouldn’t work. 

If you’re feeling burned out, don’t try to face this problem alone. Tell other people that you’re struggling, and let them help you.

Reminder! You can text/call IFI’s prayer line whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed, discouraged, and/or need help: 1-800-372-1013

Rest is very counter-cultural in America, and in many other cultures as well! But it’s needed because we humans are not made to be machines. The Bible says we are created in the image of God, and God himself rested after creating the world (Genesis 2). Jesus also said this in Matthew 11:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

For the past few months, I’ve been spending more time with Jesus, learning how to take better care of myself from him. The more I trust him, the easier it is to let go of my unrealistic expectations for myself. 

For those of you who are also feeling “weary and burdened,” I hope this blog post was helpful and you can find rest for your souls, as well!

About the author