When you hit a wall, sit down and rest.

Katie Allred said it well on Facebook:

You can’t overachieve your way through exhaustion.

And yet we try. And trying can definitely contribute to leadership burnout.

It may seem like Spirituality 101, but we were built for a life of rhythm in which we should sleep through a third of every day and take one out of every seven days off to rest.

My wife can attest to my tendency to respond to any weakness or failure in my life with lines like, “I’ll figure it out… I’ll try to do this better… I’ll work harder on this.” But when we try to work our way through exhaustion, we usually make things worse.

Frustration leads to exhaustion and exhaustion leads to depletion. When your body is completely depleted of energy, nutrients, and electrolytes, it can become downright dangerous to keep on running without resting. The same is true mentally.

Rest is THE answer to our exhaustion. Rest is what God has provided as the best medicine for weariness.

And by “rest,” I don’t necessarily mean laying in bed, especially when we’re mistaking depression for exhaustion.

Real rest involves:

  • Slowing down physically and re-energizing in healthy ways.
  • Shifting our mental focus to something that contributes to healing.
  • Patiently waiting for the strength to get back up again.

My former pastor, Rick Warren, says that “people who work with their minds should rest with their hands, and people who work with their hands should rest with their minds.” That’s why he works in his garden so much in his downtime.

If you’re exhausted, depleted, or burned out, take a rest. Take a day. Take a week. Create space for solitude.

You’ll never “work” your way out of exhuastion.


And if you’re feeling exhausted in an ongoing sense on a personal, spiritual level, check out my Burnout to Breakthrough coaching program.

Also check out my list of recommended books about leadership burnout.

Photo by Hernan Sanchez on Unsplash.