My alarm went off at 4:40 this morning. The last thing I wanted to do was get up and go for a run. Don’t get me wrong. I love to run, and I am actually enjoying training for my first half marathon. But if I’m being honest, the transition from sleeping in my bed to putting on my running shoes was brutal. …And my day was just beginning. I’m fairly certain that neither one of my toddlers slept well last night. There were more tears this morning than we’ve had in a long time (my own included.) As I was changing probably the worst diaper in history, the exhaustion set in. I was totally burned out.
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We’ve all been there. Doing the same thing day in and day out tends to wear on us pretty quickly, especially when we add in life’s unexpected (and often not so pleasant) surprises. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love my life and my family. Every now and then, however, I need to be reminded that life is so much more than the little things I turn into big things by stressing out about them.
Here are 5 tips to avoid burnout:
- Spend some quality alone time with God.
Now it may seem a little strange of me to suggest adding something more to your already crazy schedule, but I often find that reading my Bible has a way of allowing me to slow down and refocus. Martin Luther once said, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” He knew that the more God called him to do, the more time he needed to spend in prayer. Unfortunately for most of us, prayer and Bible study often get pushed aside on our busiest of days. These are the days, however, when we need to spend even more time with God.
- Make the time to rest.
With two toddlers, I never have time to sit during the day. I have learned that if I don’t make the time to rest, it won’t happen. My husband and I both work from the time we wake up until the kids go to bed, but we make sure that we have at least 1 hour to unwind before we turn in for the night. No work. No phones. Just rest. We also make it a priority to get to bed on time. Our days are so much less stressful when we’ve had a good night’s rest, and our bodies are simply more equipped to handle life’s stresses.
- Remember to laugh.
As a stay-at-home mom, I often find myself trying to do multiple things at once. I somehow find a way to feed both kids, unload the dishwasher, fold the towels, and pick up the toys simultaneously before my husband comes home for lunch. I’m beginning to realize, however, the importance of simply enjoying my day. Yes, I still have responsibilities, but it’s okay to set things aside from time to time to enjoy some time with my daughters.
The other day, dishes sat in the sink while my girls and I had a “dance party” in the living room. It was so much fun! I chose not to stress about the dishes, so I could take the time to laugh. There will always be chores to do, but my daughters won’t be toddlers forever. Taking the time to laugh, reminded me of where my priorities should be, and it renewed my strength so that I could finish my responsibilities with a smile on my face. (Proverbs 17:22)
- Lean on others for strength.
Don’t be afraid to share your feelings of stress with those who love you and are praying for you. I find that when I bottle my stress inside, it often finds a way of reaching the surface anyway. My family often gets to see my stress…or as they see it…my bad mood. When I communicate with my husband and tell him how I’m feeling and why, he is much more understanding of my stress. Not only that, he often has the wisdom to help me cope with my stress.
- Don’t be afraid to say no.
All work and no play were never God’s intention for us. We all have responsibilities and work that needs to be done, but taking the time to rest is an essential part of avoiding burnout. We may have to say no sometimes when asked to take on an additional responsibility. I do believe that we were meant to work hard and to work well. But we can’t do that if we are spread too thin. All of our work will suffer, and it won’t take long before burnout sets in.
All said and done, I do believe that prayer is the absolute best solution to avoiding burnout. We can give God our worries, and let Him worry for us. (Although I can assure you that He’s not actually worried… He’s got the whole world in His hands, remember?) 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to give all of our worries and concerns to God because He cares about us. He will also be faithful to renew our strength. (Isaiah 40:31)
We don’t have to carry our burdens alone. It is His strength that will carry us through.
*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.