This is hard to admit, but I face burnout in my work at least once a year. There are times when work is fun; there are long days and nights before and after big service, but later in the year I’ll completely burn out. I’ll start wondering if my work even matters and whether I should keep working in production at all.
Have you ever felt this way? Have you ever had seasons where you want to give up and look for something else? What do you do when you’re in a season like this? I may not be the best person to speak about it, but here are some things that have helped me get through intense seasons of burnout.
What causes burnout?
When it comes to technical artists, burnout has nothing to do with the amount of hours worked and has everything to do with whether or not a person feels valued. I’ve seen it many times before and it’s true for me as well. We technical artists could work 80 hours a week doing something we love and with people who recognize and appreciate us. I myself have worked back to back 14-hour days for big conferences and felt amazing when I was done. Burnout is not about hours worked, it’s about about feeling valued and appreciated by those who work with you.
There are other things that can cause burnout:
- Finding your identity and worth in your work, not in God.
- Working too long and too much without healthy rhythms of rest.
- Losing sight of the purpose of your work.
There are ways to prevent burnout, but that’s a topic for another blog post. Now, I want to show you what to do when you find yourself burnt out.
What to do when you’ve burned out
How do you know you’re burnt out?
For me personally, burnout starts as as slow progression where I might feel a little tired and weary. Sometimes I can trace it back to committing to too many things or a really busy work week. Over time, I start to notice something’s wrong. Even when I take a few days off and get real rest, I still don’t feel rested or rejuvenated. This is burnout.
If you’re wondering whether you’re burned out, you already are.Sean McCabe
Admit you’re burnt out
The first step in healing from burnout is to acknowledge you’re burnt out. Admit to yourself something’s wrong and give yourself permission to rest. It’s easy to brush off burnout by saying you’re just tired or things will get better soon. You have to take burnout seriously and admit you’re not just tired, you’re completely burnt out.
Now, confess your burnout to God. When you burn out, you must take it to God and confess you haven’t relied fully on Him for rest and rejuvenation. Confess the ways you’ve used work to make a name for yourself and your desire for control. Check your heart to see what you’re really chasing and longing for. Once you confess, take time to sit in God’s presence and receive His grace.
Now you’ve admitted you’re burnt out, you need to start the process of recovery. Just like a broken bone, you need to take is easy and allow time to heal. Slow down the pace, learn to say no to extra commitments and focus less on doing and more on being.
Rest is more than going home and binging Netflix or catching up on sleep. Rest is not about relaxation or taking it easy, rest is about renewal. When you rest, you take time away from work to commune with God and have Him meet the deepest needs of your soul.
As you seek true rest, ask God for healing. Ask Him to renew your soul and give you new vision for the next season. Give yourself space and time to see how God is working in the smallest aspects of your life.
When you’re in a place of burnout, the natural tendency (at least for me) is to pull away from friends and family and become isolated. When you first hit burnout and need intense times of rest, this is okay. If you’re truly overwhelmed from a long season of work, taking a day or two and completely getting away from everything may be the best thing you can do. However, you can’t remain isolated. If you do take some time off to rest, you need to return and seek community.
Seeking community doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as hanging out with friends or staying at home with your spouse. You could go get drinks or see a movie with someone. The point is to be with people and fight the temptation to isolate yourself. When an opportunity presents itself, mention how you’re feeling burnt out and let your friend encourage you. God works through community, let Him minister to you through others.
Find activities that bring you life
As I said earlier, rest isn’t simply about not doing anything and watching Netflix, rest is about being rejuvenated. As you’re getting back on your feet from a rough season, look for things you enjoy doing. Sometimes the most powerful spiritual habit we have is enjoying one of our hobbies in the presence of God.
For me, I love to play music, go for a long drive, listen to music and read books. All of these things are normal, fun actives which bring me life. Before I start one of them, I simply say a little prayer beforehand like, “God, as I go on this drive, be with me, remind me of your presence and restore me. Help me enjoy this drive and worship you as I look at your creation and listen to music. Speak to me and restore my soul. Amen.”
Sometimes the most powerful forms of rest are doing something you love, sitting in God’s presence as you do it.
Your work matters because of who you are in Christ. There is important work God has for you in this world and being burnt out keeps you stuck, missing out on all God has for you.
If you’re burnt out and help getting unstuck, send me a DM or video on Instagram and let’s chat, grab coffee and pray. Sometimes talking with another technical artist can be just what you need to get through a season of burnout. What will you do right now to step out of burnout and into a place of rest?