A Story About Burnout

female architect having a phone call

From the desk of Kelsey Buell, 

Do you base your worth on your productivity? I used to…and it was detrimental to my mental, physical, and emotional health.

Shortly after college, I became a recruiter.

Like many other roles out there, this type of role entailed a very “activity – based” structure. Meaning I would be rewarded for having more activity.

woman in gray blazer on the phone
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The more phone calls I made… the more candidates I interviewed….the more recruits I would bring on….and ultimately, the more money I would make. And the more money I would make, the more successful I would feel.

I remember one evening, one of my senior level coworkers swung by my office and said, “Kelsey, you’re one of the hardest working individuals in this office!” 

Wow….I thought.

I am good!

I began to wear my productivity as a badge of honor.

…and even worse, base my worth on my productivity.

This was to my detriment, because as I continued to focus so heavily on being productive, everything else went by the wayside.

My values…my relationships…even my health…

Something was going to have to give!

Eventually, I reached the point of complete exhaustion, and was fully burned out.

Let’s pause and define burnout.

  • Webster definition of burnout: Burnout is  a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. I.e. You are completely depleted or drained – you have no gas left in the tank.
  • Burnout is caused by: Prolonged stress.
stressed woman covering her face with her hands
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I was under a continuous state of stress, and eventually decided the only answer was to quit.

When we push ourselves to our breaking point, we end up quitting because our body and minds just can’t physically take the stress anymore.

Where am I at now?

Well, I still very much value hard work. In fact, I just put my daughter to bed and as I’m writing this it is 8:23 pm. 

That said, I don’t always push myself to and past my breaking point.

It gives me a lot more longevity to push through when I absolutely need to.

I equate it to an athlete’s workout schedule. They don’t “go hard” every single day. They also need to take rest days and even less strenuous days.

Sometimes, a walk can be better for you than a run or a sprint!

So when it comes to making sure you’re not wearing your “burnout” or “business” as a badge of honor, practice these limits:

  • Appreciate compliments, but don’t let them have a negative impact on you. When others  validate our hard work, it can make us base our worth on our productivity. This leads to wearing our burnout and our “busy” as a badge of honor.
  • Don’t sacrifice your mental health – sometimes work can wait. It’s okay to want to work hard, but at what point are you sacrificing your own well-being? We all struggle with burnout and it’s normal to feel exhausted sometimes.
  • Be mindful of your healthy limits. Pushing ourselves too hard without taking proactive pauses will have a negative impact on our mental and physical health. We need to “nourish to flourish.”
  • Slow and steady wins the race. Life after college is a marathon, not a sprint.

And ultimately remember, it’s okay to rest sometimes. You do not have to fill every second of every day with getting something done. In fact, your brain will reach its optimal potential if you allow some time for reprieve.

What does God have to say about overworking yourself?

The Bible encourages us to be good stewards of our time.  While God encourages hard work, it also emphasizes the importance of rest and balanced living. In Genesis 2:2-3, God rested on the seventh day after completing His work of creation, setting an example for humanity to observe regular periods of rest. In Exodus 20:8-11, the commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy is given, which includes setting aside one day each week for rest and worship. This indicates that there should be a balance between work and rest in our lives.

woman leaning on table
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While the Bible does not endorse a relentless pursuit of productivity at the expense of rest, relationships, or personal well-being, it does encourage us to be diligent, responsible, and use our time and talents wisely. It is important to find a balance that aligns with biblical principles and takes into account the need for rest, self-care, and spiritual nourishment.aligns with biblical principles and takes into account the need for rest, self-care, and spiritual nourishment.

Looking for some time for self-care and rest? Join us for our Refresh and Reconnect Retreat in August!

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