In the past couple of weeks, more than ever, the Holy Spirit spoke to me many times about – BURN OUTS!
You see, the weeks leading up to this month were extremely busy ones for me. There were times I felt overwhelmed by the sheer thought of all I had to do. I would wake up and lie immobile as I thought of what I had to do and the little time I had to do it. Frozen at the thought that the time simply wasn’t enough to finish the tasks. I had targets I had to meet in a short space of time. Desperate, I turned to my husband for help. Pray for this girl, I said. It’s a bit overwhelming.
Oh, my spirit wanted to move, but my body wasn’t cooperating. I found comfort in sleeping my schedule away. So, instead of getting down to work, I would set an alarm or say those (in)famous words to the nearest person, “wake me up in 30 minutes” and then end up waking up hours later! With the tasks waiting for me like a dog waiting patiently for the fattest bone!
I made it through but here are some things I learned:
- No matter how busy you ever are, make time for the most important person in your world – God. I would wake up some mornings wanting to jump full scale into my day and I would hear Him say to me, “come away.”
But, come away was something I felt I didnt have the luxury to do. So, I would ignore, mutter a quick one and move into my day only to end up achieving nothing. It then became clear to me, we are never ever ever too busy for Him. He gives our lives perspective. He arranges all the pieces when we turn them over to him and makes everything fall in place.
- You have to decide what is truly important. And making that decision isn’t something you do in isolation. While I was faced with all that pressure, everyone close to me felt it. I had to pause and ask what was truly important in my life. And how my choices affected me – my walk with God, my relationship with my children, my relationship with my husband, my friendships and everything else. Then I sifted through all the things clamoring for my attention and accepted ONLY what aligned with God’s plan for me at that time.
- A lot of us are overworked. Not because there is a lot of work in the real sense of it, but because we have succumbed to bad planning, misplaced priorities, procrastination and simply taking on more than we can chew.
- We have not learned how to say No and tend to cave in to the pressure to “be more by doing more.” As a result, when the extra file we shouldn’t have been working on gets pushed our way by a colleague, we say yes though deep inside we really want to say No. With the wrong yes goes another weekend we could have spent with the kids. Out goes an early night or a night out relaxing with friends.
- There is time for everything. We get stressed when we don’t do things when we should. In summary, we get stressed when we procrastinate. Don’t pack things away till the last minute. Wake up daily knowing what you should be doing and commit to doing them. Even if you don’t do them all, do some. Remember what the bible says, ‘…in fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, for you it is a sin…’ (James 4:17)
It is possible you are in that place I was some weeks ago. Facing all this pressure, feeling like the world is caving in. Here’s what I want you to do:
- Come away: I know you have all these deadlines and targets, maybe you even have exams tomorrow or you have a big interview coming up and need to prepare for it. Come away. There is rest for you when you come away. You receive renewed strength when you come away… Come away became a familiar nudging for me in those days. When He would pull me aside for a breather, for a time of refreshing in His presence. Don’t just sink into your bed like a piece of metal in the ocean. Make time to hand over all the stress and pressure. It’s okay if the time you have to do this is those few minutes you are in the bathroom as you get ready for work. But, please, do it. There is amazing strength and peace waiting for you when you come away.
Jesus said, `Come away with me. Let us go alone to a quiet place and rest for a while.’ Mark 6:31
- Be kind to yourself: You are actually doing the best you can. Be kind. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for prioritising. I say this a lot (that is being kind to yourself) because you know how it is, we mostly assess others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions. And so, out of all the other people in the world assessing you based on your action or inaction, you know you. You know how much more you want to be present for everyone else. But, it just isn’t happening the way you would have liked. Be kind to yourself, hon. You really are trying. God sees this, and knows this and loves you fiercely.
- Prioritise: Not everything is important. And you know this already but still want to spread yourself thin. Focus, focus, focus on that teeny weeny bit (often called the 20%) that is important. That 20% that if you don’t focus on will mean your world isn’t complete.
- Have boundaries: You know the Covid situation brought work into our homes. It is possible you were one of those in the past who never took work home. The lines were clear, keep work in the workplace and focus on family when home. But now, the workplace and family lines are blurred. Don’t allow the lines to be blurred. While working from home, know when to stop. I have been there, where I sat in front of my computer all day and ignored everything else. But I am home with the children, I said. They can see me, they know I’m here not at work. Yes, but you know what? Children know when you are not focused on them and when you are. Don’t let this precious time pass, get some rest. Do other things. Work is addictive. Don’t become a work addict. Don’t get so busy changing the world that you forget to change your family.
- Feed your relationships: Check in on your friends from time to time. Don’t be an island. You do need your friends. Pay attention to them. Ease the pressure with a night out with friends, or a long distance call reminiscing about fun times. Feed your relationships.
- Take care of you: There’s only one you on this planet. Take care of you. Eat healthy, get enough sleep, exercise often.
- Talk to someone: Let someone in on what you are going through. Ask someone to pray for/with you. Chances are, they have faced what you are facing or they really care and will be there for you. They may even be able to take some of the burden off you like helping with the kids while you take a nap or sending you some food so you won’t have to cook, or sending you some grocery.
- Distribute your time well: Don’t be irresponsible. You have tasks to do and you really can’t wish them away. Most times, we face pressure because we didn’t do what we should have done when we should have done it. So, spread your time well. Cook when you need to, help with school projects when you need to, attend to work when you need to, get off social media when you need to. Plan your time and stick with your schedules. I use the notes feature on my phone to plan my schedule for the next day. As I meet targets, I tick them off. Some times I don’t meet them all but at least I have them written down. (There are a couple of apps that help with this too)
- Finally, the pressure won’t last always: It will pass. I promise. I’ll be honest, after I cleared my schedule, it took me a while to accept that I was actually free from timelines. I would sit watching a show with my husband or while doing something fun with the kids and feel like I had something to do. I’d feel this rush that made me feel like, aren’t you forgetting something? But, the pressure passed, it got better and I had learned what not to do and what to do better.
So, believe that the pressure will pass. You won’t always have to work two jobs, it will get better. Believe it, trust God for it and look up as you expect better days to come. It has come to pass.
I will love to hear from you. What changes do you need to make today to ease the pressure you have been facing?
You often feel tired, not because you have done too much, but because you have done too little of what sparks a light in you – Alexander Den Heijer