“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver,” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)

Rest and Connection

Just yesterday, I was talking to one of my friends about how wonderful it has been to come home from work, to go straight outside with my kids, to swing in the hammock, to play tag in the greening grass and to bask in the warm Spring sun. We were talking about prioritizing rest and connection. 

Choosing rest and connection is a form of generosity. Generosity means: showing kindness and/or a readiness to give more of something, as money or time, than is strictly necessary or expected

To be generous is to be a giver. We learn about how to do this from the One who gave more than we could imagine offering. The Most Generous One. “For this is how much God loved the world—he gave his one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life,” (John 3:16). 

To be a good lover of ourselves… to prioritize self care and rest… requires that we give.

Does this seem a bit counter-intuitive? It does to me. What do you mean that in order to be generous to myself, that I need to give more? I already give so much during my day. To clients, to co-workers, to the government, to social media, to my spouse, to school, to my kids, to my church, to my children’s sports teams, to my employees… give, give, give. 

Ahh yes. That is true. If we are privileged to hold jobs or go to school, to be in meaningful relationships, to be in positions of leadership, to be a part of a local church, to be involved in our children’s lives… it’s true, we are pouring ourselves out all day long. 

But the important question is this… are we giving to ourselves? I didn’t put “me” on that list, and you may not naturally do it either.

What is “Burnout?”

Contributing authors to Help Guide International do a good job defining this concept: 

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest and motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.

Burnout reduces productivity and saps your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful. Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give.

The negative effects of burnout spill over into every area of life—including your home, work, and social life. Burnout can also cause long-term changes to your body that make you vulnerable to illnesses like colds and flu. Because of its many consequences, it’s important to deal with burnout right away.

This is one of the best definitions I have read! It is the potential result of “excessive and prolonged stress” not being attended to. Here is a little secret, though, burnout is not inevitable… it is completely preventable.

Stress vs. Burnout

Stress is bad for our bodies. You are not more important or holy because you are busy, and certainly not because you are stressed! Also, stress is not a fun thing to “bond” over but we do it all of the time. For example, you get to work and someone says, “Ugh… another day. Good thing it’s Tuesday, only three days left.” Would it be so awkward if instead of dreadful complaints and stress-motivated greetings, we said something like, “Good morning! I slept so well last night. I am ready for the day and excited to see what it brings!” 

Check out this chart that helps break down the difference between stress and “burnout.” 

Stress is actually an alarm that is meant to tell your body, “Hey! Check in with yourself. Prioritize rest. Your cup is close to being empty. You are not managing your stress and responsibilities well.” 

Self-Generosity! 

What does it look like to be a “cheerful giver” to myself? 

“True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from!” (Brianna Weist). Avoiding burnout and being generous towards yourself is a lifestyle, not infrequent overindulgence. Read and print this list of some ideas to consider, broken up into categories. What category needs the most attention and care? In what area can you challenge yourself to be more generous? 

Physical

  • Make exercise a priority! 

You don’t have to hit the gym to experience these benefits. 30 minutes daily (could even be broken into three 10 minute intervals, or two 15 minute intervals) of some form of exercise will improve your mood, and decrease stress (and a nasty hormone called “cortisol”)

  • Sleep! 

Exhaustion can lead to irrational thinking and poor decision making, which exacerbates stress

Mental

  • Try a little creativity!

Expressed creativity (in any form) is a way to externalize stress and other negative emotion. It is not just painting and drawing. It can be building, constructing, writing, playing an instrument, problem solving, etc (look up “creative activities” online for more ideas).

  • SET BOUNDARIES!

I think that this is the hardest one for most people. Whether our motivation is that we don’t want to disappoint others, or because we desire to be in control… we struggle to say “no” and end up overextending ourselves. Saying “no” up front will give you the opportunity to say “yes” to activities and choices you do want to make. (This also applies to taking breaks from technology). 

Occupational

  • Try to find a way to reframe how you approach work!

Try to find some value in what you do to help regain a sense of control and purpose. 

  • Take time off

Recharge your batteries by using sick leave to take a mental health day. Use that time to actively rest and engage in activities that are life-giving and refreshing (i.e. don’t just binge-watch Netflix all day).

Relational

  • Reach out to your friends and trusted family members! 

This one is self-explanatory. But, how often do we forget to express our needs and share our struggles with those who love us the best? It may possibly be a way to build trust and strengthen your friendship

  • Reduce contact with negative people!

People who are chronic complainers and cynics, their behavior can be toxic and affect your mood and energy. Be wise about how much time you spend with these individuals

Spiritual

  • Quiet, set aside prayer time!

When was the last time that you sat for 10-15 minutes with no distractions and just meditated on the Word, prayed for the day ahead, or simply listened for His voice? This time can be brief, but extremely powerful!

  • Worship! 

“Worship” means to ascribe worth to. How do you worship the Lord? What do you like to do as you ascribe worth to and meditate on Him? This does not have to be only through music. It could be hiking, cooking, or working out. When we choose an activity and give praise, thanksgiving, and worth back to Him through it… we are offering unique, beautiful worship.