How Can I Overcome Burnout?

March 2-8, 2020

This started out as a study just for me; I wasn’t originally planning on starting a blog post around it, but it was a really powerful lesson from my Heavenly Father and so I decided to share it. 

I’ve got a lot going on right now between all my normal stuff and the fact that my husband just had surgery on Friday. I’ve had to let go of a lot of things, not necessarily out of choice but simply because there have not been enough hours in the day to do it all. I was already feeling overdrawn before the surgery, and now, I’m looking at six weeks before my husband is allowed to pick up anything – including my kids. 

I prayed and asked Heavenly Father about how I could avoid and overcome burnout. I feel like it’s glaring me in the face, and so I knew I was going to need help if I was going to be able to be the mom and wife I wanted to be.

His reply came shortly after, and it was very simple. It wouldn’t have necessarily stuck out to me right away, but I guess that’s what the Spirit does. The Spirit “highlighted” this verse in my head.

2 Nephi 31:13 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take up on you the name of Christ, by baptism – yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.

I know that at first glance, this may seem like an odd verse to respond with. However, I’ll break it down for you a little, and I’ll tell you what He put into my mind as I read. Some of it may not fit perfectly in your head, but once again, I guess that’s just what the Spirit does. 

Follow the Son- Because there was so much that needed to get done last week, there were a lot of times that I was literally asking myself what He wanted me to do in each hour. What is most crucial to Him? My house was not as clean this week, but I was there helping my husband sit, stand, lie down, get food, put on clothes, etc., etc. I cuddled my kids. I studied my scriptures.

Full purpose of heart/real intent- So this was an interesting one to think about. Honestly, this reminded me of mindfulness. I’m not so good at this one yet. I’m constantly thinking about the next thing and the next thing and the next thing I have to do. I can feel the cortisol rolling through me as I constantly focus on what I have to do next rather than focusing on what I’m doing right then. It also robs me of joy when I’m putting Evelyn down to bed or feeding Warner. Instead of feeling their soft, little faces, I’m too busy feeling overwhelmed about getting dinner together on time. Instead of being present with Conner while I’m helping him, I’m dwelling on the fact that he won’t be able to pick up Warner for me. Do each task with your heart. You don’t have to love all of them, but accomplish them well and with meaning. You don’t have to love laundry, but you can love your kids enough to do it with a full heart.

No hypocrisy or deception- I’m not asking you to minimize any trials you might be going through because that’s not helpful to anyone. However, it is unwise to “play martyr.” Playing martyr can look like the following. You know you need a nap, but you’re stressed and depressed so you make yourself clean dishes instead (even though you can do them later when the baby is awake). You turn something into a big deal when it doesn’t need to be. You keep working and killing yourself until midnight after everyone else has called it quits and decided to rest (then you proceed to be frustrated with them). Sometimes you’re going to have to do the dishes while the baby is asleep. Sometimes you’re going to feel anxiety, and it’s going to blow something up in your head. Sometimes you’re going to have to work until midnight. BUT. Playing martyr is more than working hard. Playing martyr is making yourself work harder than you need to in that moment because you’re upset. This usually leads to angry feelings at others (often a spouse or child). It also leads to negative feelings towards yourself. It often comes with a punishing voice in your head. It can lead to a downward spiral where you take a small situation and blow it up so that you can make your life harder. It is purposeful self-destruction. When I walk down that path, I’m often lying to myself in many different ways.

Repenting- You’re going to get stressed. You’re going to think about the next task. You’re probably going to complain. The most used words in your vocabulary may be “no” or “stop” instead of positive reinforcement. But that’s the beauty of repentance. Repentance is supposed to help you let go of the mistakes rather than punish yourself for them. Dwelling on them will only cause more stress which in turn, will probably cause more mistakes. Repent and give them to God. Let go of it. 

Witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing- Sometimes it’s enough to be willing to do everything. If you are also willing to listen, Heavenly Father will let you know what He expects of you and what He thinks you should let go of.

Following Him down into the water- Take the sacrament. This is what allows the Spirit to be with us each week. The Spirit is crucial to avoiding burnout. Not only can the Spirit give comfort, but the Spirit can give us revelation for what is needful for each, individual day. It can also give us the spiritual gifts we need.

According to the word/receive the Holy Ghost- You have to give something up. Avoiding burnout is as simple as that. Something has to give. The Holy Ghost can help you see what’s not needful. For example, this week exploded AND threw up on me this week. Every night I thought the next day would be different: I had worked and worked until I finished everything so that I could have some down time the next day. Little did I know, I was really just getting everything done because Heavenly Father knew I had something that would happen the next day. I kept piling on more and more guilt that I hadn’t worked on my blog. I feel like Heavenly Father has really been telling me to do this, and I’ve made some very small goals regarding it. It’s nothing intense; I know I’m a busy mom, but I wanted to do something because I felt so strongly that Heavenly Father wanted me to get this blog up and running. Needless to say, I did NOT meet my goals last week. It was easy to fall into a spiral and get mad at myself and tell myself that I would just have to give up more sleep in order to get it all done. Deep down, I also knew that my health was starting to really suffer because I haven’t gotten a good night’s rest since before Warner was born. Because of various circumstances, I did not make it to bed before midnight at all this week. Except for last night. As I sat down and read my scriptures yesterday, I read about the Saint’s sacrifices and how they gave up everything. I was gearing up to sacrifice more sleep until I was led to Mosiah 4:27. “It is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength.” I read His word, and I could have gotten my answer in either direction, but it was the Holy Ghost that helped me know what Heavenly Father was trying to tell me specifically.

Given the tongue of angels- If we’re making honest attempts at doing these things, Heavenly Father will give us the spiritual gifts we need. Of course, praying for specific gifts never hurt. Sometimes when we’re at the end of our rope, we can pray for that extra bit of whatever we need to handle whatever situation we’re about to handle. I also think it’s awesome that this verse specifically said the “tongue of angels,” because you better believe that’s exactly what I needed when handling my children this week.

Shout praises- Gratitude. Gratitude is one of the best ways to overcome burnout because it casts everything in a different light. Your to-do list is still there, but it doesn’t feel quite so painful anymore. I may need to do the dishes, but at least I’m not pregnant and nauseous while having to do them. Warner may wake me up regularly in the night, but at least he’s breathing. Conner might be out of commission for six weeks, but he’s kind to me. He loves and adores me. When he’s up and running again, he will be running a million miles an hour to take care of us. Having this mindset made it infinitely easier to feel happy while I worked.

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