Knowing how to identify it is crucial, as the effects of burnout are damaging for not just the person but the ministry too. When energy levels are low, and morale is down, workers and volunteers are inefficient and unhappy. Noticing the causes of church staff burnout and how to treat it is essential.
Keep reading for a guide on identifying burnout and the top ways to treat it.
What is burnout?
You’ve probably heard of the term burnout. People often use it to refer to a feeling of extreme tiredness, typically from work or over-socialization. HelpGuide defines it as a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion brought on by prolonged periods of stress. Its effects are so damaging that the World Health Organisation has classified it as a medical diagnosis.
A constant feeling of being overwhelmed and emotionally drained turns into a vicious cycle, where you struggle to meet demands creating more stress. It takes a toll on motivation levels, which reduces productivity and energy levels, causing feelings of helplessness and frustration.
The negative impacts of burnout extend beyond the workplace and can affect your home life, social life, and physical health too. Physical symptoms include insomnia, chronic fatigue, increased likelihood of high blood pressure, heart disease, and respiratory issues. Knowing the symptoms of burnout is the first step to avoiding it.
How do I know if I’m experiencing burnout?
If you are feeling increased levels of anxiety, irritability, and irrational anger, it’s time to take a closer look at your workload. Have you been biting off more than you can chew? Being tired all the time and never being able to meet deadlines or complete tasks are common signs of burnout. But, burnout is different from simply being stressed.
The major difference is that burnout takes a longer-lasting emotional toll. While you may require a bath or a moment on your own to recover from a stressful day, burnout will seep into the way you view the world. So, if you start feeling excessively drained, anxious, depressed, or helpless, it’s time to take action.
How to deal with burnout at work?
Identify your stressors.
First things first – what is the root cause of your stress? While this isn’t always easy to identify, dig deep into the main problems occupying your mind. Maybe you are struggling to keep up with the kids’ ministry curriculum tasks and are worried about the children falling behind, or perhaps another church worker is causing conflict. Identifying and naming your stressors is therapeutic in itself.
Enforce the boundaries you need.
Once you know the root cause of your stress, consider which boundaries would help change your situation. If you are letting yourself be overworked for fear of saying no and letting your church down, realize that it’s not worth it. God needs you to serve Him and your community from a position of strength and energy, not burnout and exhaustion.
Take some time for yourself.
Reconnect with yourself to balance your mind and emotions. Whether this involves canceling a meeting to go for a walk or spending Saturday watching movies is up to you. The important thing is refilling your cup with life, so you can see the purpose behind your work once again.
God will help you through this difficult time – you only need to have faith. Turn to the Bible to receive His guidance, and trust in His plan for you. Praying to God will shine a light that illuminates your calling and helps you turn away from the things that are no longer for you.
There is no guilt to be had in removing yourself from positions that no longer serve you. If your reflections reveal that the chronic problem is due to your work environment, a change of environment could be what you need. Leaving a position is always stressful in itself, but it's time to think of the bigger picture. Can you see happiness in your current role? If not, God does not want you to stay there.
In your ministry position, saying yes to every request that comes your way isn’t always a smart move. If your negative mental state begins to affect your work ethic and how you approach tasks, it risks harming the running of your ministry. Knowing when to say no is an essential part of self-care.
Job burnout can take many forms, and it can be hard to differentiate from other commonplace emotions like stress and anxiety. If you still aren’t sure if you have burnout from a job or something else, try this job burnout quiz to give you some clarity. But the truth is, if you even need to take that quiz, something is probably not quite right.
If you have the power to draw some boundaries and make a change to your situation – do it! Beating burnout at work will transform how you function in your work life, home life, and social life too. When you begin to notice the difference in your mentality, energy, and happiness, you will realize that the self-work was well worth the trouble.