This is the month some say is busier than December. With school and studies and many commitments coming to a close, I’ve heard the word ‘burnout’ resurface.

Is it just that we are exhausted and need some hours of self care, or is burnout real?

burn·outˈ    bərnˌout/noun
noun: burnout; noun: burn-out
1)  The reduction of a fuel or substance to nothing through use or combustion. 2)  Physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress. 3) Failure of an electrical device or component through overheating. 4) A method of producing textile patterns in which a design is etched by chemicals that destroy only the surface fibers.

I am writing about the second definition of burnout, but I much prefer the first:

The reduction of a substance to nothing through use.

The people I know who have experienced burnout, myself included, I believe would agree – there was nothing left.

Burnout is real.

We have cute nicknames to label burnout: We say we are: past the point, at the end of my rope, through, finished, have had enough, we’ve had it. Burnout can negatively affect our attitudes, relationships, jobs and daily living. One-third Americans say they are living with extreme stress, and workplace stress costs over $300 billion per year in health care. To top it off, the experts say there is no real cure. While we openly express our frustrations and stress levels, we fail to do anything about it. Yet, there are ways to recognize and circumvent burnout.

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Burnout consumes our joy.

The number one indicator of burnout is exhaustion. And following close on the heels of exhaustion is loss of joy. Those two indicators alone might warrant a bit of taking stock to tackle burnout before it reaches the “I’m done” stage. Here are 3 ways to survive May, shoving burnout to the back burner. You do not have to do every one, and you don’t have to do something every day. But, right here at the beginning of a stressful month, pick a few and make them happen. You’ll begin to get your joy back.

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Time out

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

Take time outs. Two of my favorite ideas for ways to back off and hit the refresh button are:
1) Take a daily break from technology. Something just as simple as turning off the cell phone daily for a length of time pushes back the addiction.
2) Set calendar boundaries. Wrestle your calendar to the ground. Boy, it’s taken me a long time to learn this! You have control over your calendar 90% of the time, not the other way around. Cross some things off your list and say no. Say yes to a quiet time, a nap, or time on the couch. Simply let your brain rest.

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Take care of you

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside still waters. He restoreth my soul…Thou preparest a table before me… Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.  Psalm 23: 2-3,5

We cannot take care of ourselves unless we know what it is that restores our joy. What does it take to take care of you?  What brings you joy?  What would your perfect day look like? if you can’t get a whole day, what would make a perfect 3 hours, or two, or one?

Simple. Start a list, a fun list, of what takes good care of you. Here’s my start:

* I’m headed to the Botanical Gardens with Bible and journal. At the back of their property there is a quiet, shady, secluded azalea trail with benches. One day soon you’ll find me there.

* I need and love time alone in my own house.

* I love to laugh really hard.

* I know just the place to buy a delicious piece of chocolate cake, my favorite.

Hey, while you are reading this – what’s on your list?

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Talk to someone

…there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

The value of a close friend is incalculable. Schedule some much needed time with a good friend, preferably in person. And just share. It doesn’t always have to be deep. With a friend recently we laughed over grandchildren, talked about our current Instagram faves, touched on books we wanted to read, she gave me shopping suggestions and we made summer plans. Friends like that – together you plow through a wide range or ridiculous and profound topics, but where you really land is: joy.

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God can and will bring restoration and joy.

…they will see God’s face and shout for joy; he will restore them to full well being. Job 33:26

Happy May!