Working hard for God doesn’t make you close to God. How do I know? Because I experienced spiritual burnout. Eventually, I wanted to run away from my church, friends, and faith. Can you relate? If so, I want to help you identify some healthy ways to move forward. Maybe it’ll look like adapting your faith, or maybe you’ll end up taking a break for a while. Either way, it’s okay.
What is Spiritual Burnout?
Spiritual burnout happens when we’ve given too much of ourselves for too long. It’s a state of physical, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion. Usually, it results from constant stress. For many Christians, it happens in the context of serving others or having an unhealthy relationship with doubt.
Spiritual burnout causes a loss of meaning and purpose. Why? Because our mind is so overwhelmed with life, we can’t function. So we end up feeling detached and apathetic toward everything, including our spiritual lives.
It can also result in physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and changes in sleep patterns. Therefore, it’s essential to acknowledge spiritual burnout, as it can negatively affect every part of your life.
Can you relate to feelings of spiritual burnout? If so, it can feel scary. But hope and healing are possible.
3 Ways to Heal From Spiritual Burnout
1. Take a break, even if it feels scary
One way to heal from spiritual burnout is to take a break from spiritual activities. Continuing to attend church, and pushing yourself to maintain old habits might do more harm than good. Burnout is our body telling us to take a break. It might feel sinful or radical to take a break from spiritual practices, but it might be exactly what you need.
You’re allowed to take a step back and gain perspective.
Taking a break from church or other spiritual practices doesn’t mean giving up your faith. It’s simply taking care of yourself and creating space to heal. You can use this time to reflect on your beliefs and experiences, connect with nature or other sources of inspiration, and practice self-care. When you feel refreshed, you can return to your spiritual activities with a new outlook and a deeper sense of purpose.
2. Practice self-care, even if it feels lazy
You need rest. Don’t trust me, or even the Bible. Instead, trust your burnout. Seriously, it’s a sign that you need to practice holistic self-care. Every part of your life is connected. So your spiritual burnout also affects your physical health and your relationships.
So how can you start practicing restful self-care? Start with the basics. Go to sleep at a reasonable time, drink a ton of water, and go on a walk once in a while. Maybe even start working healthy foods into your diet too.
Having fun can also make a big difference. Engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation are powerful healing tools. People also find journaling and meditating helpful as well.
Take time to reflect on your experiences and what led to your burnout. Consider your beliefs, values, and what is important to you. This can help you rediscover your purpose and maybe even reignite your faith.
3. Seek support, even if you’re afraid of sounding crazy.
Talking to a trusted friend, mentor, or counselor can help you process your feelings and experiences related to spiritual burnout. They can provide encouragement and offer guidance for your healing journey.
Sometimes, talking about such feelings with people within your spiritual community can be difficult. That’s why reaching out to someone who understands and supports you can be a significant step toward healing.
Supportive people can help you understand what led to your burnout and what you need to do to find healing. In addition, they can help you gain a sense of control and agency in your healing journey.
It is important to remember that healing from spiritual burnout takes time and effort, but the end result can bring you a deeper understanding of your faith, your relationship with God, and a greater sense of peace and purpose. So, be gentle with yourself and trust in the process.
Did People in the Bible Experience Spiritual Burnout?
The prophet Elijah in the Bible had a well-known experience of spiritual burnout, described in 1 Kings. After defeating the prophets of Baal and experiencing God’s triumph on Mount Carmel, Elijah received death threats from the Queen and fled into the wilderness. There, he felt so overwhelmed that he asked for his life to be over. However, God provided food and water to sustain him, and after he had rested, God appeared to him in a quiet, gentle voice and spoke to him.
Like Elijah, many we can feel overwhelmed, discouraged, and exhausted from spiritual pursuits. We may even feel like giving up. This feeling of burnout can come from a variety of sources, including self-imposed expectations, societal pressure, or even disappointment in their faith community.
However, just like God provided for Elijah and spoke to him in his time of need, we can seek support for spiritual burnout. We can also take steps to care for our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
You’re Not A Bad Christian
Spiritual burnout is a natural response to prolonged stress, strain, and pressure. It can be caused by overextending yourself in spiritual activities, experiencing disappointment in religious communities or leadership, or facing personal difficulties such as loss or trauma. But it’s not a personal failing or a lack of faith. It’s simply a sign that it’s time to take a step back, reflect, and prioritize self-care.
Guilt can lead to negative self-talk and prevent you from seeking help or taking steps toward healing.
Remember that everyone has limits and needs rest; taking a break from spiritual activities is not a sin. Instead, it’s necessary to improve your overall well-being and spiritual health. Spiritual burnout can be a normal part of the spiritual journey, and that healing is possible.
If you’re experiencing spiritual burnout, it can feel scary. But you’re not alone. Tell someone how you’re feeling, and take time to process. But don’t try to power through burnout. It won’t be healthy for you, or for the people around you. Instead, get some help. It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign you’re human.
For more on finding peace, check out this post.