always been annoyed by a certain TV commercial. In it a lanky
blond with shining tresses tosses her head and purrs, “It’s
expensive, but I’m worth it.”
I’m just jealous that this artificial creature has given herself
permission to treat herself well while I’m still struggling with
the concept. Hey, I make lists a mile long filled with tasks I know
I’ll never complete in a month. I continue to run myself ragged
when my body screams for sleep. I can’t seem to stop my endless
round of activity long enough to spend a quality hour in deep
friendship prayer with my Father on any kind of a consistent basis.
you on overload?
wise physician friend once shared the following list of symptoms of
spiritual, emotional, and physical overload. I’m taking a close
look at them again, knowing that my body may be trying to tell me
something about how I’m treating it. Maybe you’ve noticed some
of these warning signals in yourself:
susceptibility to infection
illnesses, especially migraine headaches
pain and tension
overwhelmed by ordinary daily tasks
friend and usual activities
with family and friends
of numbness, estrangement from God and others
getting up in the morning
I have discovered from my
own difficult past experience (so I’m a slow learner!) is that
once overload has reached the level of crippling our interactions
with others, the only recourse is to retreat and rest. Continuing on
in the same caregiving role, ignoring your own needs, will only make
your symptoms worse. If ever there was a situation in which “an
ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” this is it. The
best way to deal with the burnout that comes with overload is to
prevent it in the first place.
a place all your own where you can go, undisturbed, every day.
Use the solitude to relax, meditate, and regroup.
your brain to cut stress. If you know which side of your
brain is experiencing stress, you can actually encourage the
other side to “take over” and help calm the stressed-out
side. (If you feel depressed or emotionally “worked up,” the
stress is in the right side of your brain the creative,
emotional side. Switch to your left brain by doing something
factual, such as math or putting together a puzzle. If your left
brain is stressed it may feel time pressured or a heavy sense of
feeling burdened down with the cares of life. Switch to your
right brain by singing, taking a walk, or doing something
to accept praise and gratitude. Don’t deflect compliments.
Accept them with a simple “Thank you.” Practice affirming
yourself using positive self-talk. Refuse to participate in any
form of criticism, whether toward others or yourself. Praise
others freely, telling them sincerely and openly what you
appreciate about them. The cycle of giving and receiving love
and acceptance energizes and heals.
“I choose to…” instead of “I should…”; “I
won’t…” instead of “I can’t…” Guilt is a poor
motivator, sapping inner strength and creating a feeling of
helplessness and hopelessness. Continually remind yourself
through your choice of words that you are free to choose the
course of your life. That you are not a victim.
a “buddy system.” Use it regularly as a source of
encouragement, support, and redirection. Nothing is more
valuable than a trusted friend who not only accepts you and
cheers you on to greater accomplishments, but will also gently
tell you the truth about your behavior patterns.
things to laugh about. Exult in the beauty all around you,
from the chirp of a bird to the smile of a child to the
brilliance of a sunset. These give life to the body and soul.
to pace yourself and take one thing at a time. Concentrate
just on the task at hand and don’t allow yourself to be
overwhelmed by everything at once. Take time to rest when you
need to. And don’t forget to exercise!
yourself that you can change only those things that you have
control over (namely, yourself). It’s easy to get bent out
of shape by circumstances and people that are out of your of
influence. Learning to let go of the “if only’s” frees up
your energy for dealing with those areas in which you can make a difference.
your routine whenever you can. Getting into a rut can feel
“safe,” but it can also dull the senses and stifle
creativity, which is essential for spiritual health.
procrastination as a signal from your subconscious that it’s
time to lower your stress level. Instead of shaming yourself
when you can’t seem to get anything done because of
procrastination, look deeper for the root cause. Perhaps it’s
time to say no for while to allow yourself time to regroup and
said, “Love God with all your mind, soul, and spirit, and love
your neighbor as yourself” (see Matthew 22:37-39). The One who
made us in the first place appointed each of us as guardian of our
own “love tank,” making sure that we stay filled up so we’ll
have something to give as we reach out to others.