As we enter the third year of the pandemic, burnout is everywhere. The American Psychological Association, in its 2021 Work and Well-Being Survey, found a frightening level of burnout that’s no surprise to most people.
The survey found that 79 percent of employees surveyed had work-related stress in the previous 30 days. The occupations reporting the highest levels of burnout were (again, no surprise here) health care and education. But the symptoms of burnout spread across most occupations. The level of negative impacts reported include:
- 44% had physical fatigue (a 38% increase since 2019)
- 36% had cognitive weariness
- 32% reported emotional exhaustion
- 26% felt lack of interest, motivation or energy
- 19% reported lack of effort at work
So what is exactly is burnout? Back in 2019, the World Health Organization defined it as a syndrome resulting from workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It has three dimensions:
- Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
- Increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
- Reduced professional efficacy
Is this you?
Three Christian mindfulness practices to fight burnout
Just One Thing: Pick one task a day to perform with Christian mindfulness. Pray before and after. Ask God to be present with you as you do the task. Focus your full attention on the work in the presence of God. You could change tasks each day.
Ask for Change: Starting a new job is generally exciting, if somewhat stressful, because there is so much to learn. Use prayer and reflection to think about what new thing you’d like to learn. Or what new responsibility you’d like to take on. Come up with a proposal about how to learn to do those things. Take it to your boss, who may be happy to help if just to get you to stay.
Add a Prayer Break: Adding a five or 10-minute prayer break to your day is fairly easy. Mark it on the schedule, using a code word if necessary. Then stop to pray for your work, upcoming meetings, your co-workers and your organization’s mission. You may feel more purpose and insight when you get back to your work.
Be sure to bring your burnout into the healing power of Christian mindfulness. It will help you decide if it’s time to join the Great Resignation or if you just need to make a change in your current job.
“Developing a conversational relationship with God” is the subtitle of Dallas Willard’s book “Hearing God.” Some believe that God stopped speaking when the Bible was organized. Willard (and I) think nothing could be further from the truth.
Hearing God’s voice fits into the larger context of walking in a close friendship with him. In fact, Willard believes that God speaks mostly to people who obey His teachings and want to do His will.
As Jesus said, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.” Abiding in Jesus minute by minute through Christian mindfulness puts us in a position to hear God specifying His will. We become as Willard wrote “someone who leads the kind of life demonstrated in the Bible: a life of personal, intelligent interaction with God.”
Feasting on God’s word
The Bible fixes the boundaries of everything that God will say to humankind, Willard writes. Indeed, God speaks most often during Bible reading and study. Have you ever had a verse jump off the page to you, even though you’ve read it many times? That is God speaking.
But this can also happen while listening to another person, whether it be a sermon or a conversation. I also believe that synchronicity can point the way to a message. If you hear the same verse repeatedly … in Bible study, in a sermon and in a book you’re reading … it may be God emphasizing something to you.
God also speaks through dreams, visions and events. But most of the time he speaks through a small, still voice that can only be heard in quiet. God’s voice comes in a spirit of peace, joy and good will. So God’s voice sounds like Jesus. And we can only know what Jesus sounds like through Bible study.
Seven steps toward hearing God
This summary may help you as you seek to hear God’s voice.
- Begin with a prayer in Jesus’ name for protection from evil influences.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to listen well.
- Remain alert.
- Reject anything that is contrary to Biblical truth.
- Feel welcome to write down the thoughts that come for further study.
- Understand that real communications from God are:
- Biblically sound
- Glorify God
- Advance the kingdom
- Help people
- Help you to grow spiritually
- Thank God for the time together.
Walking with God in Christian mindfulness is a sweet time of communion. We should expect that God will help us learn what we should know and what we should do.