There really is no perfect test of burnout symptoms. However, there are some characteristics of burnout that are common to most people suffering from this malady. We can use these to produce a test to see if you are burned out and to see how deep you have sunk into the darkness.
- Do you find it difficult to "drag" yourself to work? Do you have trouble getting started when you've finally arrived at the office?
- Are you cynical, overly-critical, or sarcastic? One therapist I talked to suggested that sarcasm is rooted in anger and frustration. Could this be one of your burnout symptoms? A cynical person distrusts other's perceived motives. He or she assumes that people are thinking the worst about them. Do you criticize people in your church for little things? This is another symptom of burnout.
- Do you find that you have more day than you do energy? Everyone has bad days. But do you find that every day is a challenge? When was the last time you finished the day with energy left over?
- Are you easily irritated or impatient with others? We all get irritated and impatient. But are these consistent behaviors in your life? Do the least little issues cause you to get frustrated or stressed?
- Do you feel less than satisfied with your accomplishments? For instance, do you find it hard to believe that your sermons are really helping anyone? Are you pessimistic about the value of your ministry?
- Are you disillusioned about your job? Do you question the validity of what you are doing? Do you question the truth of what you are teaching? Do you question your own abilities?
- Do you use things to feel better? Things like, food, alcohol, drugs, or pornography? People who are burned out feel bad - they feel awful. They are emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually in pain. So there is a logical attempt to feel better. Some attempts, like seeking the help of a doctor, are beneficial. Others, however, do more to facilitate the deepening of burnout. It's the spiral of guilt. I do something I'm not supposed to in order to feel better. I feel guilty - worse than I did before. So I seek to find relief of my pain which leads me to again do things I feel guilty about. And so the cycle continues.
- Have you noticed any changes in your sleeping or eating habits? Interrupted sleep, or excessive sleeping are symptoms of burnout. Weight gain (or loss) can also be a symptom of burnout.
This isn't a perfect test of burnout symptoms. But the questions help give you an idea of where you are at. Now that you know the burnout symptoms, look at burnout causes.