Dealing with Burn-out

September 26, 2013

In my recent dotMagis post, I shared how I learned to deal with burn-out a few years ago.  The lessons I learned when my oldest child was 10 months old are finding relevance in my life right now.  The past 18 months to two years were nothing short of surviving day to day life.  Combined with last year’s transition to a new city and helping all in my family get adjusted to life here, I find myself nothing short of exhausted.

The four words that helped me years ago with burn-out and exhaustion seem to be resurfacing again in my prayer life these past months: REST-PLAY-PROCESS-PRAY.  I wrote a bit more about these four words on DotMagis yesterday:

My body needed rest, and my soul did too. I gave myself permission to nap and rest when I could. I also began physically moving again. Exercise energized my body both physically and mentally. I knew I needed to do some non-church-related stuff and play. My life was off-kilter, swayed heavily towards ministry commitments. I gave myself permission to engage in activities that would offer balance to my life. I read books on topics other than faith and spirituality. I tried new recipes. I played in our yard. I made it a point to get together with friends.

In addition, I spent time processing what led me to this point of burnout, using tools such as journaling, spiritual direction, and talking with close, trusted, soul-friends. And above all, I knew I needed to take the time to pray, to feed my soul and spirit, to build my relationship with God so that I could continue to feed others. Even with a young child at home, I honored my commitment to my annual silent retreat.soul did too.

I know every bit of me needs rest right now– my mind, my body, my spirit.  Over the last few months there has been a slow release of stress from the past couple of years.   I am leaning hard on the wisdom I learned back then.  I am giving myself permission to rest.  I am seeking new ways to play in our new city and to discover new things.  With the help of my spiritual director, my husband, and trusted friends, I am processing the grief and stress that was part of our family’s life.  Prayer remains part of my day to day life, and I am eagerly awaiting my 8 day silent retreat in October, a cherished gift from Chris for my birthday.

Overcoming exhaustion takes time, and I know that I am not alone in the need for rest.

Which word strikes you as one that you need to pay attention to today? Rest? Play? Process? Pray?





Becky is an Ignatian-trained spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and writer. She is the author of the Busy Lives and Restless Souls (March 2017, Loyola Press) and The Inner Chapel (April 2020, Loyola Press). She helps others create space to connect faith and everyday life through facilitating retreats and days of reflection, through writing, and through spiritual direction. With nearly twenty years of ministry experience within the Catholic Church, Becky seeks to help others discover God at work in the every day moments of people’s lives by utilizing St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises and the many gifts that our Catholic faith and Ignatian Spirituality provide.

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1 Comment

  1. Wayne

    Hope you find the time for all of these needed activities. Last week I almost skipped going to an amazing quilt exhibit because I was too busy… It was playtime indeed.


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