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Archive for the ‘Burnout’ Category

Is Self-Care Selfish?

SOURCE:  Taken from the Prepare-Enrich Newsletter

Spoiler Alert:  It’s Not!

Self-care is taking time to care for yourself in whatever what makes sense for you. We often overlook self-care by thinking that it’s something only selfish people do and isn’t that important. However, the more I intentionally practice self-care, the more I see the positive impact on my relationship and I know it’s not a selfish act. Most importantly, I’ve found it allows me to be more present in my relationships because I took the time to make myself feel whole.

The problem with the idea of your partner being your “other half” is that you are unable to invest any part of yourself into your relationship if you aren’t whole. By reframing my thoughts around self-care, how loving and appreciating myself can create a stronger connection in my relationship, I have been able to overcome the negative stigma of “selfish self-care.” It’s important for me to take care for myself for mine and my partner’s sake.

Why Does Self-Care Matter

  • Increases your emotional/mental well-being
  • Allots time for you to take care of your physical self
  • Gives you the energy to care for others
  • Feeling positive about yourself gives you a better outlook on your relationship and life in general

How to Practice Self-Care

Simply take time to do something you enjoy, something that feeds your soul and inspires you. Here are some ideas:

  • Journal – write down your daily thoughts in the morning or at night
  • Volunteer – give back to others using your talents
  • Cook – develop a new recipe, make your favorite dinner
  • Be creative – draw, write, rearrange your living room
  • Pamper yourself – get your hair cut, take a long shower, get a massage
  • Spend time with family – look at old family photos, play a game
  • Go outside – take a walk, jog, or go for a run
  • Be active – go to the gym, practice yoga
  • Eat what you want – drink water, eat your veggies, and eat your cake too (in moderation)
  • Sleep – go to bed early, allow yourself to sleep in, take a nap
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PRAYERS TO HELP YOU ENDURE A MISERABLE JOB

SOURCE:  Nicholas Hemming

When you’re about to lose it at work, call out to God for peace and hope.

With a yawn and a sigh, you grab your lunch, saunter out your front door and casually climb into your car. After years of enduring a miserable job, you’ve grown accustomed to dragging your feet. Why should you hurry?

When you arrive at your desk, you know exactly how the day will unfold. Your boss will walk by and ignore your existence. You’ll have at least two angry emails waiting for you. And your co-workers will give you a half-hearted grumble when you greet them. That’s just how things go in your workplace. And that’s why you drag your feet every morning.

Do you feel miserable at work?

Whether you can’t stand your daily responsibilities, work for a difficult boss or feel overworked and underpaid, the process of surviving a challenging job can feel suffocating. You’d love to start applying for new jobs. But the whole process—updating your resume, interviewing, trying to figure out if you want to relocate, starting over with a new boss—overwhelms you. So where can you turn?

In these moments, you can call out to God for peace and hope. And you can open your Bible and meditate on reminders of God’s presence with you. These three prayers will get you started:

Lord, I’m losing patience with my boss, my co-workers and my entire company. Fill me with your peace today.

You, Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in you.Isaiah 26:3 (GNTD)

Lord, I feel trapped in this place. When I’m here, I constantly feel agitated and annoyed. Fill me with your joy today.

Light shines on the righteous, and gladness on the good. All you that are righteous be glad because of what the Lord has done! Remember what the holy God has done, and give thanks to him.Psalm 97:11-12 (GNTD)

Lord, I need a job that better suits me. Fill me with your hope today.

May God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace by means of your faith in him, so that your hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit.Romans 15:13 (GNTD)

Are You Caught in the Sandwich Generation?

SOURCE: iMom/Dana Hall McCain

The American population is aging, and this means a rise in the number of adults caught in what researchers call the sandwich generation—those who are caring for aging parents while still caring for their own children. Nurturing loved ones on both ends of your life, all of whom have major needs, is emotionally and physically draining. It can also throw a wrench into your financial planning.

How can you cope with such a heavy load without cracking?

First of all, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. Around 1 in 8 Americans age 40 to 60 is caring for an aging family member while raising a child. But you will be forced to make choices about priorities, learn to delegate responsibility, and accept that you won’t be perfect at both jobs every single day. Cutting yourself some slack may be the most important key to preventing burnout while you’re sandwiched in between.

Take a break from volunteering.

We love volunteers! They make every school, church, and community a better place. However, if you’re pulling double duty as a caregiver, you have very little margin in your schedule. Don’t feel guilty about saying no to some or all of the volunteer opportunities that come your way for a season. A time will come when your responsibilities shift again and you’ll be able to give more to the outside world and causes you hold dear.

Train your older children to pitch in.

In the not-too-distant past, it was common for three or more generations of a family to live together as grandparents aged. As a consequence, older children were expected to contribute more fully to the running of the household: caring for younger siblings, helping with chores, and taking more responsibility for their own needs. Even though current culture typically expects less of tweens and teens, they are capable of so much more! Delegate more tasks to them and the whole family will benefit.

Recruit your siblings to help with aging parents.

Many times the care of an older parent falls to one adult child more than the others. Sometimes, it’s simply because the other siblings don’t know what to do. If you find yourself in the role of chief caregiver, talk with your siblings about ways they can contribute to the effort. If they live nearby, it may be hands-on help. If they live further away, it might be by contributing resources toward hiring more professional help. Make sure they’re aware of what the specific needs are and how they can meet them.

Let go of perfectionism.

If you’re in the sandwich years, it might be a good time to lower the bar on some negotiable areas of life. Simplify your holiday routine from decorations to gift-giving. Relax if the house isn’t as tidy as it used to be. Don’t freak out if you gain five pounds. All of these things can be tightened up again when time permits. For now, just roll with it.

Give yourself an outlet.

This may be the hardest of our suggestions, because it requires time—time you likely feel you don’t have. But allowing yourself a bit of alone time regularly to decompress is vital. Prioritize it so that you have that opportunity to recharge your own batteries and enable yourself to serve everyone else.

Communicate clearly with your spouse.

The sandwich season can put a lot of pressure on a marriage. Make a conscious effort to check in with each other frequently to just say, “How are we doing?” It will give each of you the chance to express where you could use more help, and will provide a chance to strategize about how to accomplish the top priorities.

Accept help from friends.

Just like your siblings can help with the parents, your mom friends are often glad to help out with your kids. Take them up on an offer to drive carpool for you when needed or drop your kid at home after sports practice. Every little bit helps!

25 Tips for Avoiding Mom Burnout

SOURCE:  Family Life Ministry/Janel Breitenstein

 

A list for those who—like me—struggle with overcommitting and overworking.

1. Sleep may be more important than you think it is. Remember, God made it. Get some.

2. Mentally set a time on the clock when you will stop working and do something that replenishes you. If you need accountability, tell someone in your household and ask them to hold you to it.

3. Pray about every activity to which you’d like to say “yes.” Ask God to uncover your motivations for a “yes” and pray about whether He would have you say “yes,” too. Make sure your husband is on the same page, and when appropriate, invite your children’s input.

4. Make a goal to spend a certain amount of time playing, cuddling, and/or generally enjoying your kids every week or every day. Though there will be other times to pursue some of your activities, their childhood is only now.

5. Politely say no.

6. Take one day a month or a week to “fast” from technology. Ask yourself if you really need to be that accessible.

7. Talk with your husband about reasonable limits for your kids’ activities and the effects your decisions will have short- and long-term. Seriously consider the cost-benefit ratio, and pray together with open hearts about your schedule(s).

8. Ask for help when you need it.

9. Swap babysitting with a friend for one day. Consider taking part of the day as a spiritual retreat, and part to do something you thoroughly enjoy.

10. Set up a regular date night with your husband.

11. If the “good” is the enemy of the “best,” decide what you’ll set aside (e.g., that basket of laundry) for something more important (that game of Chutes and Ladders your kids have been begging to play, or calling a friend).

12. What projects on your back burner would make you feel the most relieved if they were tackled? What friend might be willing to lend (or swap) her expertise in organizing, artistic skill, or childcare to help you dig out?

13. Politely say no.

14. Take a bath, eat something you really like, or enjoy the equivalent that causes you to slow down, savor God’s goodness in this moment, and remember His sufficiency to fulfill what is necessary.

15. Slowly read Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.

16. Examine whether you have enough relational breathing room in your schedule to enjoy friends, extended family, your kids, your marriage, and your walk with God.

17. Rest one day a week. If it helps, make a few guidelines for yourself about what you won’t do on that day (empty the dishwasher, cook, answer email … whatever works for you).

18. When you feel your stress levels rising because of your task list, take 5 to 10 minutes and “go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret” (Matthew 6:6).

19. Trust God to provide other people to do what needs to be done.

20. Observe the immediate and distant effects of your schedule on your kids. When they look back at their childhood, what will they remember? What will they know was most valuable in your home?

21. Memorize and meditate on verses like Psalm 23, 127:2; Matthew 6:31-34; Ephesians 2:10; and James 3:13-18.

22. Think about the things that you do to relax … and whether they actually relax you. Do you know what rejuvenates you?

23. Politely say no.

24. Create pockets of silence and rest in your life. Turn off the TV, the iPod, the radio. Use the time to simply, quietly be with God instead.

25.  Ask God to help you listen to Him.  Then practice, practice, practice.

5 Reasons Moms Lose Patience, and 5 Ways to Build It

SOURCE:  Family Life/Susan B. Merrill

A list of ideas for developing an ever-elusive character trait.

There are lots of reasons why we moms can lose our patience.

If we try to become aware of why we lose it, we may be able to take preventative action, overcome impatience, and exercise more patience. So here are the top five reasons why most of us lose our patience, and five ways to build our patience.

Five reasons why we lose our patience

1. Fatigue. We quickly come to the end of our ropes when we have too much to do and too little energy with which to do it. Add to this the fact that kids seem to have a limitless amount of energy, and you’re already tired when you wake up in the morning.

2. Displaced anger. Often we are irritated at someone else or about something that has little or nothing to do with the crisis of the moment. Unfortunately, our kids are the easiest, most accessible targets of this displaced anger, and it shows up in impatience with them.

3. Unrealistic expectations. We have an agenda that does not take into account the unpredictability of life in general and parenting in particular. Then when we get behind, the pressure pushes us to impatience with everyone around us, including our children.

4. Failure to plan. Many times our frustration and anger are of our own making because we fail to put in the extra effort it takes to prepare us, and our children, for the unique demands of the day. Remember: When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

5. Distorted perspective. We assume it is us against them and that they are out to get us. We see those little charges as the enemy who has us under siege, almost as if they are purposely trying to annoy us, when instead they are really, most often, just children being children in all their imperfections.

To be passionate moms we each must really exercise and strengthen that patience muscle. It is a brick to build, and build it we must. So here are five simple ways to build patience and counteract those reasons why we lose our patience.

Five ways to build our patience

1. Reenergize. Do your best to rest up when the chance presents itself. Even if your kids don’t take naps, institute a quiet time in the afternoon.

2. Deal with your anger. Ask yourself, “What am I really angry about?” If you can’t take care of it immediately, write down your course of action, and then set it aside until you can deal with it. Pray for a gentle spirit toward your kids, and ask forgiveness if needed.

3. Have realistic expectations. Once you have a reality check on your perfectly executed day, calculate how much time, energy, and money it will take to pull it off, and then triple it. Barring a flooded basement or an outbreak of chicken pox, you may come close to meeting your expectations at the end of the day.

4. Plan, plan, plan. As you anticipate what you need to prepare for the demands of the day, play “worst case scenario” and plan accordingly. Lists are incredibly helpful, and sticky notes rule! There is only one thing more time consuming than preparing for your day, and that is trying to repair a day gone astray!

5. Keep a wide-angle perspective. Remember: It is our job to love and train our children. Don’t take their goofiness and misbehavior personally. They will one day put aside childish behavior and become adults you can relate to.

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Adapted from The Passionate Mom ©2013 by Susan B. Merrill. Published by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used with permission. All rights reserved.   

What To Do When Your Dreams Stall

SOURCE:  Bonnie Gray/Relevant Magazine

She told me I was selfish to try to be a writer.

My mother said other people can afford to go off to become journalists, but God gave me gifts for a reason. Not so I could do whatever I wanted. Writing was good hobby, she said, but it doesn’t pay the bills or move us out of our low-income housing.

So I shoved my applications to Boston U and Columbia into the garbage can. I applied to become a computer science and engineering major and stayed close to home. I never told anyone about my broken dreams because it always felt like I was being ungrateful for the opportunities I was given to get an education.

I let go of my dream of becoming a writer. I lived separated from my heart.

I eventually found healing, but only after I took the painful path to re-awaken the dreams I tried to deny my whole life.

Maybe you too have given up on the dreams you felt called to when you were younger. Maybe you’re discouraged and think it just isn’t meant to be. I had to learn the hard way that God-given dreams are worth pursuing, even when it’s difficult.

Here are a few things to do when your dreams stall.

Feed Your Soul Instead of Ignoring it.

When your soul is free to be real, you can receive the comfort and strength from God to dream again.

We often think of the action-figure Jesus, but the Bible tells us, “Jesus would often slip away to the wilderness for prayer” (Luke 5:16).

Jesus took time to rest because nurturing His soul with His Father was more important than what He could do.

We need spiritual whitespace to feed our dreams.

Whitespace is the space on a page left unmarked in the world of art and design. Without whitespace, a composition goes from being fine art to commercialization.

Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s poeima — poetry translated as “workmanship”—created in Christ Jesus to do good works.”

Are our lives more like art or cluttered advertisement?

Make Rest Your Ambition

Rest sounds inactive, doesn’t it? I was surprised to find that rest is one of only three ambitions that God explicitly calls out in the Bible. Rest is as important as preaching the gospel and pleasing God (Romans 15:20, 2 Corinthians 5:9).

“We urge you, brethren, to excel still more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet (restful) life” (1 Thessalonians 4:10–11).

Downtime puts us in touch with our passion instead of numbing ourselves by managing our inboxes, Facebook updates, TV or achievement-oriented productivity.

Rest rejuvenates our dreams with creativity, deep relationships and adventure.

Cast Your Net On The Other Side

It’s too late, you tell yourself. You’ve moved on and gained strength by helping others. But Jesus sees the nets you’ve left.

Jesus says, “Cast the net on the [other] side of the boat and you will find a catch” (John 21:6).

Jesus sees the empty nets. Put out where it is deeper and let down your nets.

It’s not too late. Try something radically different. Maybe even the opposite direction you’ve been heading.

Confide in God.

It’s soul wearying to constantly hide your dreams. To deny our desires and the pain of loss. We feel guilty for not moving on and beat ourselves for not being thankful.

Instead, Jesus whispers,“Come to me, all those who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Confide in God about how you really feel. Make space to ask the hard questions. When your soul is free to be real, you can receive the comfort and strength from God to dream again.

Journey To Find the Open Door

You’re ready to give up. But no matter how long the journey or how broken you feel your story has become, none of it can change who God made you to be.

It’s not too late. Try something radically different. Maybe even the opposite direction you’ve been heading.

The door to your dreams God has intended for you can never be lost, closed or destroyed by anyone or anything.

“I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name” (Revelations 3:8).

Sometimes, it’s easy to give yourself away when you no longer carry any hope for the dreams you once held.

Sometimes it takes more faith to revisit dreams that have stalled than asking for faith to forget about them.

I went on to finish my book and find my voice. I hope you will take the journey to recover yours with God too.

Wisely Planning “Neglect”

SOURCE:  Randy Alcorn

Planned Neglect: Saying No to Good Things So We Can Say Yes to the Best

I’ve recently been overwhelmed with seemingly endless opportunities to do good things.

I’ve been weighing what to say yes to and what to say no to. Seems like every year of my life I have to say no to more good things. (Young mothers and fathers may relate to this, as those children need a lot of attention, as do your marriages, and there’s no end to the things, both bad and good, that could distract you from either or both.)

Just today I backed out of two things I’d said I thought I could do, months ago when it seemed there would be time for them. I hate to do this, but it’s become clear that I have to be ruthless to carve out time to do what I believe God wants me to, or it’s just not going to happen.

We shouldn’t say yes to something just because it’s a good thing or even a great thing. When saying no to good things, I always remind myself what Nanci and I have learned over many years: I must say no to people concerning the vast majority of good things they invite me to, in order to be available to say yes to God concerning that small number of things He has truly called me to. Sometimes we tend to say yes to too many of the good things, leaving us exhausted and unable to bring our best to those relatively few God-things.

(Of course, some people are not saying yes to the things God calls them to, because they’re saying yes instead to three hours of TV and internet surfing or video games each night. I’m talking now about those who are using their time wisely but are still feeling overwhelmed.)

Whenever we say yes to something, we’ve found that it’s not just the new thing itself, it’s the new contacts, the new networks, and all the new requests that come out of them. We love people, and we enjoy making new friends. And yet, it’s also true that while we’re grateful when God brings us new friends, we are not actively seeking them, because as the years go by we have to work harder just to stay in touch with our old ones.

Sometimes I just have to give up on email, because it’s never-ending. I can’t possibly stay on top of it unless I do nothing else. There are only 168 hours in the week no matter what we do (and during a third of those we should be sleeping!) If we have X number of people to make time for, they have to come out of the same small pie of available time, and pretty soon the slices of the pie get smaller and smaller. You end up having dear friends who no longer get a sliver, because it’s been divided so many times.

As with people, so it is with causes. Rather than a large number of causes that we have tiny little investments in, better to have a much smaller number that you’re wholeheartedly engaged in, giving your very best. Ask God for wisdom as to which these should be, and God will give it (James 1:3). But NEVER say yes without asking whether this is one of those exceptional things God really wants you to do. Tell Him that unless He smacks you in the side of the head and makes it clear, you will assume He DOESN’T want you to do it.

This is planned neglect.

We need to neglect doing the things that countless people want us to do, so that we will be available to do what God wants. And sometimes He speaks in a still small voice, while people speak in a big LOUD voice. We have to make sure we’re listening. To do that, we need to put our ear to His Word and pray and seek His face.

Instead of exhausting ourselves doing many secondary things, may we do a few primary things well. And that begins with our daily time with God. When Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet soaking Him in, and Martha was mad because Mary wasn’t doing what she wanted, Jesus said to Martha, “only a few things are necessary, really only one; Mary has chosen the better portion, which shall not be taken from her” (Luke 10:42).

So, decide what you are going to neglect this week in order to pay attention to God. And while you do that, seek His wisdom and empowerment in doing those few things He wants you to do.

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)

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