I don’t know about you, but as much as I love Christmas, sometimes I’d really love the chance to enjoy the autumn aspect of late October and November on its own.
Do you know what I mean? You go into the store thinking “cinnamon and Thanksgiving” and come out with a head full of Christmas carols, a cart full of snowmen and tinsel, and that nagging feeling you’re way behind on your Christmas shopping, but November hasn’t even started yet?
It’s a season centered on thankfulness, but I’m already feeling enough pressure that by the time my family gathers for a Thanksgiving meal, there’s a good chance I’ll have one foot in December with no brain-space left to appreciate the gratitude themes I should.
How about you? Do you find it tough to embrace gratitude during times of pressure or stress? Is it hard to be as thankful as you’d like to be when you’re burned out, or know you’re about to be?
Yet we know we are called to be grateful. We know we are blessed. As Psalm 136:1 (NIV) says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.” In Psalm 118:24 it says, “Let us rejoice today and be glad.” And in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 it says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Here’s the thing: There are ways we can stop the burnout and hold on to what’s truly important.
Here are five ways to embrace gratitude when you feel burned out:
1) Change your perspective: Clear your mind and focus on your blessings. Often, we get the message that we need to fix something, often with a worldly solution. But clearing our mind and focusing on what we do have—the ability to breathe, or the opportunity for eternal life—helps push aside the lies.
2) Live for today: For me, a feeling of burnout often comes because I’m worried about tomorrow: will I have X in time, or what needs to happen for Y to occur? But when we start living in the moment, we turn worry on end. As Jesus says in Matthew 6:25-27, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
3) Make it a habit: You know that saying, “Fake it till you make it?” Sometimes forcing myself to make gratitude a habit actually does just that—makes it a habit. Making myself write three things in a gratitude journal each day really does help me see the proverbial light, as does participating in a November Gratitude Photo Challenge, where you post a photo a day on social media with a reflection on something new that I’m thankful for.
4) Pray for help: Remember that guy in Mark 9:22-24 in the Bible whose son was suffering from demon possession, and he went to Jesus and said, “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us”?
“‘If you can’? said Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for one who believes.’ Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’”
If you’re struggling to feel grateful, prayer helps. Go to God. Ask Him to help increase your gratitude.
5) Embrace hardship: Understand life doesn’t have to be perfect for you to have joy. Remember that happiness and joy are two different things. Happiness is a feeling, often fleeting. Joy is understanding God is always there and there is a purpose for the hardships we endure. You can be grateful for a migraine and have joy because it reminds you to go to God in your pain. You can be grateful for a tight budget and have joy because it helps you remember our greatest gifts are not earthly treasures but heavenly, eternal rewards.
These are just five to get you started. What other things help you embrace gratitude? Comment below!