Burn out.

Have you ever experienced burn out? Burn out is total exhaustion but even more than that it’s a lack of desire and motivation. When ignored burn out can lead to loss of creativity, physical illness, and even depression.

I love what I do with a passion and seem to have endless energy when it comes to writing blogs for The Holy Mess, studying how to run a website, creating new products, speaking, and running my online business, Faithful Finish Lines, with my partner Becky.

Add this to my roles as a pastor’s wife, mom of 5, and job as a Family Advocate (plus training for my black belt in Tae Kwon Do), I juggle a lot.

We read endlessly about how it’s bad to be busy, but I like being active. I feel best when I am crossing items off my to-do list. I feel great and my energy level is good almost all the time.

So this spring, I was surprised when I began to notice I was creeping toward the edges of burn out especially in regard to my writing and blogging. The signs were subtle at first. I found myself putting off writing. I would look at my growing to-do list with a small sense of dread rather than my previous enthusiasm.

I realized right away that I needed to take a break, and not just a day or two, but an honest-to-goodness vacation. As soon as I started considering a personal retreat I knew this was what I needed, because I got excited.

You might need a personal retreat if:

  • You are a high-achieving person
  • You are juggling many roles in your life
  • You are in ministry
  • You are a care giver
  • Your job or hobby require creativity and passion
  • You are an entrepreneur

A personal retreat can range all the way from a one day get-away to a week at a spa. Much of this is determined by how realistic it is for you to get away and what your budget can handle. I wanted to pay for my retreat myself so as not to burden our family budget, so my retreat was modest in cost but high in time-away factor.

Still, I’d never done anything like this before and spending money on hotel, food, and making all the necessary arrangements definitely felt indulgent.

Last week I was talking to a friend who is a mom of ten kids – yes, 10! – about Sunday afternoon naps (which I feel are a requirement of life) and she said she still feels guilty when she takes one. We must stop this guilt when it comes to taking care of ourselves. If there’s anything my 100 lb weight loss has taught me, it’s that taking care of me IS taking care of other people.


Here’s What Happened When I Took a Personal Retreat

Once I decided to take a personal retreat, I was all-in and looked forward to it for weeks.

Here is what my personal retreat looked like:

  • One week total fast from all social media.
  • Help was accepted. My business partner Becky, virtual assistant Jade, and cousin Jeff kept my website and business afloat while I was gone. (Thank you, Jade, Becky, and Jeff!)
  • Turn on auto responder for emails.
  • One week of no website work.
  • Two nights away at a hotel in the beautiful New York Finger Lakes areas. My husband joined me for the second night.

My only agenda for my time away was this: eat when you want, sleep when you want, do what you want. This, my friends, was a bit weird at first but oh so fabulous.

I also gave myself permission to let go of expectations. My hope was that God would reveal to me plans for my future business, but if that didn’t happen it was okay. My hope is that I would come back into my business energized and full of creative new ideas, but if that didn’t happen it was okay.

Here’s what I did.

I hiked.

I slept.

I prayed.

I listened.

I read – sweet cheesy romances, too, no business or self-improvement allowed.

I relaxed.

Do You Need to Take a Personal Retreat?

If you are thinking, “Must be nice but I can’t get away like that,” please allow me to challenge you. Yes, you can. There is absolutely a way for anyone to take a personal retreat in some form.

Your personal retreat can be inexpensive or even cost nothing. You can spend a day at a park with a book and a picnic lunch. Ask a friend if you can spend the night in her guest room and not be disturbed. Is there a Christian camp nearby? I bet they have reasonable accommodations.

Your personal retreat can be one day off work or responsibilities, or stretch it to several days if at all possible. For years I thought there was no way I could take time away from my children with special needs. If you are a care giver, this is a tough spot because it might seem like there is no one else who can step into your role. The honest reality is that none of us in indispensable. If you got a sudden case of appendicitis, someone would step in, right? If you care for someone 24/7, you probably need a personal retreat the most.

Expect this to take some planning. I spent a couple months getting things ready to so that my website, social media, advocate job and household would run smoothly while I was gone. Trust me, this can seem a bit daunting but it’s worth it for you to prevent months or even years of burn out looking into the future.

Have you taken a personal retreat before? What did you do? Share in the comments below.

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Do you need to take a personal retreat?