Picture the scene. It’s all too common.
You head up to the shops to do your grocery shop, and you run into a friend in the canned food aisle that you haven’t seen for a few months. You ask, “How’s things?” (At least, that’s what I would ask.)
They reply with some of the following (take your pick):
- Mate, flat out like a lizard drinking. (To which you reply, “Strewth!”)
- Really busy.
- Super busy.
- SOO busy!
- Mate, things are hectic. No rest for the wicked, haw, haw, haw.
- I’ve been pretty stressed, hey.
- Really tired and run down.
- Just exhausted.
- Struggling to get up in the morning!
- I’m wrecked! I fall asleep at my desk! Haw, haw, haw.
- It’s been a hectic week/few weeks/long day/long term/semester/year.
- Feeling pretty flat.
- Feeling pretty sick, got a crazy flu/headache/sinus infection that never seems to go away! I’m sure my lifestyle has nothing to do with it though.
- Work’s been full on. I’m SO over it.
- I’m just always so tired, sometimes it gets too much.
To this you respond, “Yep, that’s life, isn’t it. Life is hectic when you are: In high school/Doing the HSC/At uni/doing exams/starting a new job/working in general/getting married/settling into marriage/having kids/raising kids/raising teenagers/living with your adult kids/retired.”
Is this really normal?
Is living such an exhaustingly fast paced and stressful life really normal? Is it really normal to live constantly run down, or burned out, physically and emotionally?
Is it normal just because everyone seems to be doing it, like cheating on your taxes or looking at porn?
Is there a rule that says this has to be normal? That this is “just how life is”, and we should just get used to it?
This was normal for me for a long time, and it took me half a decade of mistakes to realise that it didn’t need to be, that something was actually wrong.
I lived in a cycle of burnout and exhaustion that eventually led to heavy depression and anxiety. It led to a lot of pain and grief that actually didn’t need to happen at all.
And that’s why I get so fired up about this topic: because burnout, and the resulting mental and physical health issues it causes, are almost completely preventable.
This might sound bizarre, but being extremely fatigued all the time simply isn’t normal.
And if you’re like me, you did (or will do) nothing about it until your life crumbles into an absolute mess. I hope you don’t do this.
Whether it is your ridiculously stressful life, or whether you have an ongoing health issue (like I do), it is safe to admit I think that something is wrong.
This is really not how life is meant to be.
But what about ______ ?
Yes, there are seasons of life that require more grit, hard work and discipline – raising young children, starting a new job, balancing work and study – yet I strongly believe that we have an obligation, to ourselves, to God, and to those we love, to do these things in such a way that we are able to manage them properly. And, that our seasons of grit are temporary.
Too often, it is so much easier just to make excuses than it is to manage all of our affairs in a healthy way.
We pretend that we are always powerless to do anything about it.
But we are never powerless. There are always choices we can make. It doesn’t mean that we abandon all responsibility – it actually means that we take our real responsibilities more seriously. This includes your faith, relationships, health, husband/wife/kids if you have them, and whatever else is most important in your life right now.
Burnout is not normal, it’s not healthy, and no-one is impressed. If you are feeling burned out, then it is time to take some time out of your schedule, and ask yourself some hard questions.
Life is rich, beautiful, and short. Some things seem important right now, but in the end, don’t really matter. We need to learn to discern the difference between doing what is best, and what is simply good, and let go of good without feeling guilty, in order to hold on to what is best.
Grace for Failures is the blog of Carlin Doyle, to encourage and inspire those who have gotten life wrong for a long time, and want to try and do things a little differently. Click here for more info, and here for more posts.