|Photo credit to Conquer The Clouds (Trees of the Cloud Forest, Oaxaca, Mexico)|
Here are 10 signs you may be exhibiting that signal it's time for a break (even just a little one).
1. You're drawing blanks.
You can't seem to think straight, everything seems like a blur and you're frustrated. You have too many things on the go, and piling more on or pushing forward might be detrimental to your end goals. This is a definite sign you are overwhelmed and nearing a breaking point.
2. You're not scheduling sleep into your life.
Cliché but, even Rome wasn't built in a day. You need to sleep in order to have energy to do the things you want. Sleep is the most basic restorative state you can enter. Denying yourself enough time to sleep and recharge your body is setting you up to fail as your energy wanes. If you aren't getting enough sleep because of insomnia then it could be a sign that you are overworking yourself.
3. Friends are something other people have.
I posted a while back about the power of friends as a buffer for low moods. These friends won't help you stay out of the gutter if you don't make time to see them. It's not a threat, just a reality. This is a sign that your life is out of balance and you need a break to re-connect with the people you care about. Even a quick coffee or lunch can make a big difference in your mood and energy levels.
4. You aren't taking the time to eat or nourish yourself.
If most of the crumbs from your daily meals are landing in places like your computer keyboard or between your car seats, or you find you don't even have time to eat, then you know it's time to slow down. Savouring a healthy meal and taking the time to appreciate the flavours goes a long way to preventing burnout. I'm not saying you should sit at the table, then proceed to shovel food into your mouths and then run off again, but actually taking thoughtful bites of each food and being present in the moment.
5. You're not scheduling FUN into your life.
This one is a hard one to swallow... FUN is a nasty three-lettered word for overachievers and work-aholics. The very thought of spending time doing something enjoyable can feel scary to some who aren't used to taking a step back, taking a few deep-breaths and enjoying life. But if your life has gotten to the point where fun is being omitted on a regular basis, there is going to be a problem. This also goes for people suffering depression. In depression, the "fun-button" gets worn out and doesn't work anymore, things are really bleak and negative. But fun won't happen if you don't schedule something "fun" into your life. You may not have fun, but the trick is to just get into the habit of scheduling enjoyable activities in your life. Eventually you will start to feel a semblance of pleasure, and then start looking forward to those activities.
6. You aren't making time for exercise and fresh-air.
Your schedule is so packed you go from one place to the next until you come home exhausted, fall into bed, all without ever going outside for a walk or a run or whatever sports you might enjoy. Combine this with number 4 and you have a recipe for disaster. We are animals and we need to move. Getting outside for even just a short brisk walk is enough to reap the benefits of our naturally-occurring feel-good chemicals: endorphins!
7. Your body is starting to fall apart.
Your muscles are tense and painful, you're getting headaches frequently, or your stomach is constantly in knots. These are real physical signs that you're pushing too hard and need to slow down. If your days are plagued with physical ailments that are likely resulting from your hectic lifestyle, you definitely need a break it may be time to speak with your doctor about the effect of your stress on your body.
8. Your friends are telling you you're too busy.
Our friends and family often see situations more objectively than we do. If you are noticing that friends and family are saying things like "we never see you anymore" or "you're always too busy", then it's likely they're expressing true concern. Take note of their comments and re-assess your priorities.
9. You miss bill payments.
Your home office (or your kitchen counter!) is starting to look like a paper-version of Jenga... only with much more at stake than just a messy floor. Your bills are piling up and you haven't made time to sit down with them, crunch the numbers and get your finances in line. This is a costly side-effect of being too busy and not taking the time for all our obligations. It's also likely that your feelings of being overwhelmed make it hard to think about starting this task as well.
10. You're wishing for a snow-day.
The alarm goes off and the last thing you want to do is leave the bed. It could be the middle of July, but you're lying there wishing for a snow-day. Your brain is overwhelmed, you're dreaming of staying home, cuddling up on the couch to watch a movie, or clean your bathroom and have a tea. Whatever it is that you're dreaming of, it's a sign you need to take that well-deserved break.
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