10 Ways to Avoid Burnout


Cara Meredith -Avoid Burnout4

I cozied up on the rocking chair in my spiritual director’s office. Sunlight sprang through the window and silence filled the room. Liz was never quick to speak, but let me say what I needed to say, whatever happened to be on my mind between God and me.

I was considered a “seasoned veteran” when it came to my job as a director in a non-profit outreach ministry. Most of the time, when people asked me what I did for a living, I’d laugh and say I got paid to be a Professional Christian.

But I wasn’t laughing today. Far from it, tears streamed down my face, blocking my vision, making it hard for me to catch my breath.

It was nothing short of an ugly cry.

That day, Liz had helped me realize the interconnectedness of God + me + ministry + lack of life. I’d let my job in the Church—a really good and really holy and really necessary role, mind you—take over my life, to the point that I didn’t have a life outside of ministry anymore.

I’d run myself into the ground.

The joy that had once fueled my soul was gone. And I, on the other hand, had begun to find the words to what I was experiencing for the first time.

I was burnt out, you see. And it wasn’t anybody’s fault but my own.


I could go on with my story of burnout, but I could also begin to point you in a new direction. Chances are, if you’ve stayed with me this long, you’ve found yourself leaning into the topic of burning out because something about it resonates with your insides.

If that’s the case, you too just might need 10 ways to keep from burning out:

  1. Keep the joy alive. We’ve got to keep our joy in check. If you feel like joy is missing from your life, consider sitting down with your journal or going for a walk in the woods. Answer the following questions: What brings me joy? How or where have I lost joy? What’s one little thing I can do today that will bring me joy?
  1. Look at your schedule. There’s a breaking point for each of us when it comes to the schedules we keep; some of us are homebodies, while others of us thrive as the life of the party every night of the week. Whatever the case, I firmly believe there is a happy medium for every individual, so seek to find what it is for you (and for your family, if applicable). 
  1. Listen to your body. Oh, how our bodies speak to us – even though we don’t always believe that’s the case. Your headaches and your backaches, your insomnia and even your adult acne could be a physical hint to a lack of balance within. So, get to know your body. Read a book like The Mindbody Prescription. Talk to a therapist who might be able to help you make connections between heart, mind, soul and body.
  1. Listen to your loved ones. The other night my husband asked me if I thought I was doing too much. I responded with a quick, “Are you kidding me? No way!” but in all truth haven’t been able to get his words off my mind. So, are you doing too much? What have your loved ones been saying that you might need to take heed of today?
  1. Listen to the words coming out of your mouth. According to psychologists, (occupational) burn out may manifest itself in cynicism, sarcasm, frustration and anger. Many of us claim sarcasm our second language, but when sarcasm turns a corner, hinting too close to the truth, we need to take the time to examine our hearts. For me, I realized I’d hit the point of burn out when every little thing made me angry—and friends, none of those things should have made me angry.
  1. Be still. We hear this. We know this. We memorize Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.” But are we doing it? Are we shutting off the constant background noise of music and podcasts and books on tape? Are we taking the time to lay on the floor, back flat on the ground, and listen for Holy breathing breath into us? So, stop. Smell the roses. Stare at nature. See God.
  1. Take time for yourself. Woman, you matter. What you do with your time matters. So, let your fringe hours reflect that belief. Treat yourself to a pedicure. Schedule a night with girlfriends. Communicate with your partner or spouse about your needs, and then prioritize so it can happen. Whatever your soul needs to refuel, believe that you matter enough to make it happen!
  1. Put Sabbath into practice. A couple of months ago, I made the best decision: I stopped working on Sundays. Because my job as a writer is so tied to social media, this has also meant not checking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and email on Sundays as well – and lovelys, it’s been one of the healthiest things I’ve ever done. (In fact, I think I’m more productive because I’ve chosen to shy away from technology for 36 hours a week).
  1. Have an answer to the question, “What do you do in your spare time?” Too often, when we’re close to burn out, our world exists of only one thing: work (or whatever it is that’s near-burning you out). Given my experience in ministry, I saw too many friends burn out, mostly because their job was their life. Let’s not let that be the same for us. Let’s have a life outside what we do, something that really, truly does give us life. 
  1. Say “no.” You’ve heard it before, but I’m a firm believer that we have to say a strong “no” in order to say a holy “yes.” Sometimes we overcommit because we don’t want to hurt people’s feelings. Sometimes we don’t even realize how many things we’ve said “yes” to, until there are way too many “yeses” on our plate and we hold a grudge against all we have to do. Whatever the case, it’s time to feel empowered to say “no.”

The list could go on, as is always the case, but I’m curious: What would you add?

Also, if you want to hear more, be sure to check out episode 28 on the Lead Stories podcast with Steph and Jo. And if you are dealing with burnout, know that not only are we here for you, but there are resources at your disposal.

So, reach out to someone or take the most loving step your soul may need next.


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