Monday, November 9, 2009

Going the Distance - Chapter 2

This series was originally posted on In Tandem, a blog for ministry wives. 

Chapter 2: Burnout - friend or foe?

Not the cheeriest of chapters I found! But relevant and appropriate. Brain tackles the symptoms of burnout and some of the causes. To be completely honest, I found myself reading this chapter not with ministry in mind, but rather parenting. It seemed equally applicable!

He makes the observations that all will probably feel the effects of burnout. What is important is to recognise those signs and know how to manage them before they take over. The symptoms themselves are signs that something is wrong, which he likens to warning lights in your car. They are giving you notice that something needs attention.

Three overarching symptoms he lists are:
  • a sense of being drained emotionally
  • a reduced sense of personal accomplishment
  • a sense of depersonalisation, of distance and disconnection in relationships
These can be seen in other symptoms, each of which he outlines and then addresses some ways to deal with them:
  • an inability to say no (which is often a way to combat, wrongly, feelings of inadequacy)
  • a need to succeed
  • trying to meet others' expectations
  • long working hours
  • lack of exercise and healthy habits
All of these can be indicators of burnout, and therefore action and purposeful self-care is needed.

I find when things are getting a bit much, I do feel emotionally drained, less 'successful' or competent, and disconnected. For me being emotionally drained probably results in choosing to be disconnected.

I wonder if you can identify signs of burnout in your own life and whether you can be proactive about managing them?

Some things to think about:
  1. Have you seen any indicators of burnout in others (in ministry or other professions)?
  2. What do you think are the indicators of burnout for you?
  3. How do you manage when you notice signs of burnout? What do you think you do well? What could you do better?

Next Monday: Chapter 3 - Stress and the demands of ministry: learning to say no

1 comment:

Rachael said...

When I first read this I was shocked as I felt like you were describing me! Reflecting more on last year I think that we've both been suffering burn-out to some degree, although Glen made a lot of helpful changes to his work patterns through the year. Reading this chapter now has encouraged me to be a lot more thoughtful (and hopeful) about the year ahead. We can't manage another year like last year... and while much of the difficulty of last year was due to unforeseen health issues, I think much of it can be reduced by implementing the suggestions he makes.