Recently, we talked about 11 signs you might be burning out.
Unfortunately, as you know, it’s not enough to simply recognize you’re burning out. Instead, you have to proactively deal with burnout both while you’re at work and when you’re at home. With that in mind, here are 8 strategies for coping with burnout when you’re at home.
- Spend time with your family – whether that be your parents, siblings, spouse, or kids. Although it’s hard to admit, far too often, our families come in second place to our ministries. Especially during those times when we’re nearing burnout, that realization often prompts immense guilt. So take time to reexamine your priorities. Let your family take precedence over your ministry. If you have to disappoint someone, choose to disappoint your church rather than your family.
- Stop multi-tasking and trying to do it all at once. When you’re at home, be home. Regardless of whether you’re married or single or whether or not you have kids, don’t let your ministry be all-consuming. Take time for yourself, your family, and your other interests.
- Spend time with friends who don’t go to your church. As youth workers, it can be SO easy to end up with friends exclusively connected to our church. While I’ll be the first to admit that some of my best friends have come from my church, I also know how dangerous that can be. When your friends are all connected to your church, more often than not, the conversation eventually turns to church. And as much as you love church, you need a break from it. You just do. You need to hang out with people who know how to talk about other things – politics, sports, normal jobs, families, pets, and hobbies. Doing so keeps you human. What’s more, if all of your friends are from your church, what happens during times of conflict or burnout? Who can you vent to? Who can you bare your soul to? Having friends not connected in anyway to your congregation gives you a safe place in which to be honest about your faith, vulnerable about your emotional state, and loved and cared for anyway.
- Cultivate a hobby. So many youth workers I know focus on three things: God, their families, and their ministries (not necessarily in that order.) You need a hobby – something not related to work that allows you to relax and recharge. If you have a hobby, make time for it each week. If you don’t have a hobby, get one. Experiment with doing different things until you stumble upon something you love – whether that be running, reading, painting, gardening, dancing, or something altogether different.
- Take a weekly Sabbath. Time away from your ministry is critically important for recharging your batteries. In the same way it’s important to take a yearly vacation, it’s also important to take a weekly Sabbath. Resist the urge to let your job creep into your Sabbath. Instead, use your Sabbath for soul care. Sleep in. Spend time with God. Get outside. Work out. Get caught up on your household responsibilities. Take a nap. Spend time with your family & friends. Do whatever replenishes you and breathes life back into you. Not only will regularly taking a Sabbath give you perspective, but it will also help you learn that there’s one Savior and you’re not it. As someone who’s burnt out before, there is perhaps nothing more liberating than the realization that you don’t have to do it all.
- Care for your body. Since your body suffers immensely as you approach burnout, one of the best strategies for coping with burnout is to take care of your body. Cook a healthy meal. Eat right. Increase your consumption of water. Do something physical. Workout. Take a nap. Take a bath. Relax. Go to bed before midnight.
- Delegate. In the same way that you delegate tasks at work that deplete you, if you’re married or have a roommate, organize your household responsibilities according to what energizes you. For example, I actually enjoy cooking. It relaxes me and gives me a creative outlet. So I do almost all of my family’s cooking. My husband, then, turns on a podcast and does the dishes. Additionally, if your finances allow it, get help where you can. Although there was a time when my husband enjoyed yard work, these days, neither one of us have time for it. So we hire a youth group kid to come and mow our lawn and edge, eliminating that responsibility from both our plates.
- Keep a gratitude list. When you’re plummeting towards burnout, the world can seem pretty bleak. So keep a gratitude list. At the end of each day, write down what you’re grateful for. Some days, those things will be hard to find. But ever so slowly, you’ll train yourself to notice God at work. Before long, it’ll be easier to find things for which you are grateful. Eventually, you’ll have a lengthly list that you can refer to – even when you’re in the throes of burnout. Having that list can give you a healthy perspective and sustain you during times when you need it most.
What do you do at home to cope with burnout?