Pacing yourself/avoiding burn out
November 7, 2011
After I delivered a message on people of faith and depression at a prayer breakfast in Chicago, my cousin, good friend and I walked to my car. My cousin, who is dealing amazingly well with her Parkinson’s disease, had awakened at 7 o’clock on a Saturday morning to be ready to attend the breakfast with me. She had attended a banquet for her pastor the night before; she arrived home after 11 p.m. Now going to bed late and waking early is no big deal for most of us, but when you have a disease like Parkinson’s, you move slower and need more rest. So, after the breakfast my cousin proclaimed that she was going to go home and stay in bed for the rest of the day. She jokingly said: I’m not going to be depressed (referencing one of the major symptoms I had described at the prayer breakfast…depression can make you feel like you’d rather sleep the day, month, year away than engage with anyone).
I told her she needed her rest! We coined the phrase: I’m not going to be depressed, I just need my rest.
The funny statement is actually very true and another method of staying well and healthy. Sometimes we are depressed because we have burned out; we’ve been moving, and running, and helping, and serving, and doing…and we’re tired. We could probably be okay if we stopped and took a rest. But instead, we keep driving ourselves until we not only need rest, we need major recovery…and sometimes we’ve run so much that we have become depressed.
So, I celebrated my cousin’s ability to get out, but also to realize she needed to pace herself. Two days of activities needed to be followed by serious self-care.
How do you pace yourself? Another phrase I coined and it felt like a light-bulb moment as I sat across from my therapist a few years ago: an empty slot on my calendar does not mean I’m available! An empty slot means I can have some time to rest, relax, restore myself…not add another item to the to-do list!
Do you have a formula for determining when you need some “me time” or do you regularly fold it into your day? How do you avoid burn-out?