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There was a time in my life when I loved to be busy. I was young and single. I had a social life, a full-time job, hobbies…I was killing it! And having fun! But, as it always seems to go, all those things keeping me busy began to multiply. I found myself adding more and more and more to my days. I said yes to everything! New responsibilities…new hobbies…new adventures. And it wasn’t long before I realized that I wasn’t having fun anymore. Instead of crushing it, I was being dragged along by the pace of my own life. It owned me. The life I had created was sucking the life right out of me!
It’s such a gradual change sometimes, though. One day, you look back and think, wow, how did I ever have that much energy? The answer is probably that you didn’t! You just had less on your plate.
So how do you know when it’s time to put on the breaks?
I can’t tell you how many times I dragged myself out of bed in the morning, went to work, and planned all the productive things I was going to accomplish that evening…only to come home and collapse into a chair. I wanted to be productive. I wanted to knock down that ever-growing list of tasks shouting for my attention. But my body just Would. Not. Cooperate.
So I would sit, try to gather up some energy, do the very most important thing (maybe), and then go to bed. Only to lay awake with all the things I didn’t get done running through my head.
If you’re not sleeping well, you’re going to be tired. If you’re doing too much, you’re going to be tired. And if you’re tired, you’re not going to get anything done. Slow down.
That whole tired thing? It makes you cranky. Now, we all have those “wrong-side-of-the-bed” days… it’s life, it happens. What I’m talking about is the ongoing, impatient, short-tempered kind of cranky that is hard to hide.
I remember one day, during my morning commute, being stopped by a red light and GROWLING. Out loud. Alone in my car. I wasn’t running late. I wasn’t rushing to an important meeting. I was just so angry about stopping for the 60 seconds or so it would take that light to change.
And I actually wondered to myself if I might have a chemical imbalance or something. Why was I so angry about a stoplight?
Do you find yourself getting irrationally angry over things that don’t matter? Slow down.
You’re getting sick.
Do you seem to catch every little bug that comes along? For a while, it felt like I was always sick, getting over being sick, or about to get sick. Usually nothing serious, just those pesky little bugs and viruses that come and go…they just never seemed to GO!
Are you constantly feeling less than healthy? Slow down.
You can’t make yourself sit still.
My husband is a great relaxer. He knows how to sit down and just do nothing for a while. I am….not so good at that. It’s not in my nature to do nothing. But for a while, I literally couldn’t make myself sit still. I would sit down next to him, only to pop back up 37 seconds later to take care of something. Move the laundry from the washer to the dryer…get the dog fresh water…wipe down that spot on the wall that I never noticed before (where did that COME from, anyway?). I could not just sit still.
Do you have trouble being still and allowing yourself to relax? Slow down.
You don’t enjoy things anymore.
I’ve always loved to make things. Crochet, knitting, cross-stitch…I like creating something and watching it grow. It wasn’t even about the finished product, it was the action. (Stitching has been proven to be calming, by the way…something about the repetitive motions.) But, when I did actually force myself to sit down for a few minutes and work on a project, I wasn’t enjoying it at all. I was working as fast as I could, just focusing on getting it done so that it would be one less “task” on my list.
Do you enjoy the things you do? Or just do them to get them over and done with? Slow down.
You can’t remember anything.
Growing up, my mom teased me about being her calendar. I could remember everything. Names, dates, times… Then I grew up and was able to do the same thing at work. Until I wasn’t. I realized that I had just NO memory. I could look at a number five times and still not remember what it said. I had post-it notes everywhere. I couldn’t remember what people had said. My husband started teasing me about losing my memory.
My poor, over-stimulated brain was just smoking away, trying to keep up with everything I was throwing at it.
Are you forgetting things you used to remember? Slow down!
Do any of these sound familiar to you? If so, it might be time to take a hard look at your life and CHANGE IT.
Here are 4 quick tips to help:
1. Schedule time to stop, relax, and breathe.
Maybe 5 minutes, maybe an hour, maybe a whole day, or even *gasp* a week. Make it a priority and stick to it!
2. Make a list of all of your responsibilities.
Yes, I know, that list can look overwhelming when it’s all written down. It’s also the first step to see what can be cut out or delegated to someone else.
3. Ask for help.
It’s perfectly okay, fine, and acceptable to admit that you can’t do it all! Don’t be afraid to reach out for help!
4. Face big life changes.
If your job is the problem, it may be time to explore other options. If it’s your location, consider changing it and take steps to make that happen. If you simply have too much on your plate, let a few things go. It’s a scary prospect. (Believe me, I understand!) But big changes can lead to great things!