Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

7 Ways to Prevent Burnout

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One of my favorite authors is Robert Wicks because, as a professor of Pastoral Counseling at Loyola University Maryland, he is constantly integrating spirituality with psychology, and offerings ways to prevent secondary stress, the pressures encountered by those who work in helping fields. One of his recent books is called “Prayerfulness: Awakening to the Fullness of Life,” and it is an excellent companion for folks like me who can’t afford to burnout in attempt to do good in this world. Wicks calls section one “Navigating the Perils of Spirituality Intimacy.” In it, he provides some helpful tools to keep your spirit alive so that you can manage your stress as your telling everyone how to get rid of theirs.


1. Create Simple Rituals

Rituals help us to be spiritually mindful of what is before us by focusing our attention on the task at hand. Thus, rituals can transform simple acts into sacred experiences. Simple rituals of prayerfulness balance the secular obsession with success, fame, power, physical attractiveness, money, or simply getting our way. They help prevent such normal human desires from becoming idols. Simple rituals can ensure that we are spiritually awake.

2. Soften the Soul

Being prayerful and awake to God’s presence in our lives certainly doesn’t take away the pain or the guilt–nor should it–but it does something with our negative experiences so we can learn, deepen, grow, and maybe even soften.


3. Honor Life’s Fragility

The life we have on this earth is precious and short. Prayerfulness leads us to remember this and honor’s life’s fragility, to value what and who is really important in our lives in a more sensitive way.

In that chapter Wicks quotes meditation expert Jon Kabat-Zinn, who, in his book “Wherever You Go, There You Are,” writes:

If what happens now does influence what happens next, then doesn’t it make sense to look around a bit from time to time so that you are more in touch with what is happening now, so that you can take your inner and outer bearings and perceive with clarity the path that you are actually on and the direction in which you are going? If you do so, maybe you will be in a better position to chart a course for yourself that is truer to your inner being–a soul path, a path with heart, your path with a capital P. If not, the sheer momentum of your unconsciousness in this moment just colors the next moment. The days, months, and years quickly go by unnoticed, unused, unappreciated ….


4. Face Sadness Directly

There is a lot at stake during the gray periods of our lives, difficult times when we sit quietly by ourselves or reach out to others who are suffering. Sadness, and the other feelings that draw us to places we’d rather not go, can offer us new direction. When we invite meditation and prayerfulness into the troubling places in our life, suffering can actually become a window to deep inner wisdom.

When sadness or suffering is faced directly with God, we can change the destructive relationship we have with it. Instead, it can become an awakening, possibly even an epiphany, to enhance the next moments in our life.


5. Befriend Anger and Other Negative Emotions

Anger can lead us to many and varied emotional and spiritual places. For instance, it may pull us back within ourselves to sit with resentment or self-blame. Or, it may guide us in another direction to face ourselves as well as the injustices in the world. In the process of a journey such as this, it can be empowering and call us to greater involvement. There are examples of this all around us as well as within our own life experiences. But, as we know, we must have the eyes to see, “eyes” that true prayerfulness can afford us.

6. Honor “Unofficial Retreats”

Thomas Merton once noted that illnesses can be opportunities to quiet ourselves down, let go of the world’s demands, and open ourselves to some unexpected time alone with God.


7. Appreciate inner Companions in Hope

In facing trauma and sadness, people who hold onto the “why this has happened to me” question have great difficulty letting go and advancing. It’s similar for people who move through life expecting justice. They become disillusioned, whereas those who reach for love and are open to see it and God’s presence in new ways amidst the very evil or trauma they are experiencing turn to live in the face of it in new ways. They discover hope as their inner companion and know that just as some others who have been traumatized an be transformed into especially compassionate souls, they, too, can face injustice with new-found strength if they are open to hearing God’s surprising voice.


To read more Beyond Blue, go to, and to get to Group Beyond Blue, a support group at Beliefnet Community, click here.

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  • Alison W.

    Beautiful post.

  • dorothy

    with out God i could not make it

  • A. Amos Love

    Is it possible the reason “Burnout” is such a problem
    for **Today’s** “Pastor/Leader” is they have found themselves
    with a “Title” and “Position” NOT found in the Bible?
    Did anyone have the “Title” “pastor” in the Bible?
    Was anyone ordained a “pastor” in the Bible?
    Were any congregations “led” by a “pastor” in the Bible?
    And every “pastor” I’ve met also had the “Title” “Reverend.”
    Does anyone have the “Title” Reverend in the Bible?
    Does anyone have the “Title” and “Position” – “Pastor/Leader” – in the Bible?
    Jesus taught “His Disciples” NOT to be called “Master/Leader”
    For you have “ONE” “Master/Leader” The Christ. Mat 23:8-10 KJV
    Ezekiel 14:1-7, speaks about “Idols of the Heart,”
    and now God will speak to us according to the “Idols of our Heart.”
    Has that “Title” “Pastor/Leader” become an “Idol?”
    In my experience…
    Titles become Idols.
    Pastors become Masters.
    Heavy weights on shoulders NOT easy to lay down.
    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall “hear my voice;”
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16
    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice.
    If Not Now, When?
    Be blessed in your search for Truth… Jesus.

  • Martin

    If you are here because you or someone you care about suffer from stress.
    Then I have something exiting to share…
    Being a person that cares deeply about the well being of others.
    – I’m a therapist by trade and by heart.
    I feel that it’s important that we all get access to the care that we need, to be there not only for their loved ones – but for our selves as well.
    And I know of a really effective stress reduction technique.
    It’s an audio assisted form of meditation.
    That literally, in minutes, start taking the edge of.
    And over time can restore you to your sanity and sense of balance in your life.
    So I have put up a sample on on my website for you to try.
    It only takes you 15 minutes to try out.
    And I truly hope it will bring back some peace to your life and give you some of your strength back.
    I can’t guarantee that this will work for you – some of the people I have introduced it to, didn’t experience any noticeable relief.
    But most did, and that’s whats important and they love it :-)
    That’s why I’m sharing this here with you.
    In the hopes that it will help out where it is most needed.
    At my website you can even have the sample sent to your email if your are too busy to try it out right now.
    May I be a vessel of his love and an instrument of his peace.
    In friendship.
    Martin Andersen
    – Go to my website and give yourself some much needed care.

  • self hypnosis techniques

    I am somewhat enlightened by my heavy emotions when you stated here to face sadness directly. This tip is really effective and I’m feeling better now. Thanks for your help.

  • Ashton J. Aiden

    “When sadness or suffering is faced directly with God, we can change the destructive relationship we have with it. Instead, it can become an awakening, possibly even an epiphany, to enhance the next moments in our life.” This is a wonderful notion! I feel so strongly about it that I felt I had to write! Our greatest sufferings are our greatest blessings, as they can really be the cause of an amazing transformation or rebirth.

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