Seminary can be an extremely busy time. Three papers to write over the weekend. A Greek test on Tuesday. Four books to read over the next week. Oh, and don’t forget that you are on the schedule for teaching at church this weekend!
Busyness in seminary is inevitable. Seminary can be very tough at times, but burnout can be avoided. Are you taking the necessary steps to beat burnout? Here are 5 ways that you can avoid burnout in seminary:
1. Take a short vacation. Find a few days that you can pull away and unplug. I mean, completely unplug! In order to truly rest, get away from it all and simply recharge yourself. Plan these vacations well in advance, so that you can prepare for them and actually take them. I once wrote several theology papers while vacationing with my wife in Houston. It was such a non-restful time that I determined to never take homework with again. If you actually take this short break, make sure you disconnect from the phone and email. People will survive if they don’t get an email response from you for several days.
2. Go for a walk. It’s that simple! Stretching your legs and clearing your mind a little bit will help bring life back into perspective and give you a much-needed breather. Plus, walking will get your blood flowing again, helping raise your awareness level. It’s a great way to keep yourself calm and energized throughout the day.
3. Schedule personal prayer time several times each day. The key to this is being consistent. If you make the effort to bring things before God at least several times a day, don’t you think that you will be comforted by the One who is truly in control? Jesus said, “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?” (Matt 6:26, NIV).
4. Simplify Your Life. Simplify is such an important word for the seminary student. If you haven’t already, sit down and write out your daily activities. Record what you do for a week straight. What are you doing right now that doesn’t need to be done? Is there something you can remove from your life to make things simpler? Can you change something to give yourself more time?
I learned that I could listen to class recordings while washing the dishes. It saved me a few hours a week, right off the bat! Next, I entered all of my syllabi into a calendar on my computer, and then synced it to my phone. Now I didn’t have to keep looking for assignment details in my folders. I was still pretty strapped for time, but I learned after recording my activities for a week that I watched a lot of television. So, I made a rule for myself that I would only watch television and movies on Saturdays. I started to get much more homework done during the week!
Think of different ways that you can simplify your life. What can you do to master your own schedule and streamline the activities you need to do?
5. Grab coffee with a friend. Take initiative and ask them to spend time with you. Having a social life outside of work is definitely possible, even during the busiest seasons. Your seminary friends will understand what you are going through, and will probably enjoy the opportunity to step away from their studies as well!
If you haven’t already, it’s time to make a gameplan to avoid burnout in seminary. Use these suggestions to help you stay rested enough to be healthy and successful in your life and studies.
Steven Knight is a Christ follower, husband, ministry leader, and student in the ThM program at Dallas Theological Seminary. Steven is a visionary leader with a deep desire to equip a new generation of children’s and family ministry leaders through his speaking, consulting, and writing ministries. He frequently blogs over at KidminTools.com.