I caught myself in the grocery store earlier. I was doing it again. Despite the fact that I’d spend my morning yoga class obsessing over buying milk, faced with the prospect of procuring said product, I was now thinking about laundry and wandering the isle, directionless.
My 3 am had been spent freaking out over a deadline at work. Yet, at work, I clock-watched, silently counting the seconds until I could crawl back into bed.
I often combine my commute with responding to messages, emails and checking the news. Occasionally, I curate my Pinterest board. Rarely do I wait in line for coffee without losing myself to a Was-Facebook-Now-Instagram-Whatever social media hole, and I usually arrive at appointments scheduling more. The first thing I do in the morning is looking at my to-do list. It also happens to be the last thing I do at night.
So, you see, I know just how exhausting it can be to never quite feel like you’re focused on the task at hand because there are a million other things that feel just as pressing, calling for your attention.
The truth is, we all have a habit of filling our lives too full without offering ourselves the opportunity to empty until we find ourselves running on empty. Over the years, through consistent yoga practice and mindful living, I have come to know myself a little more than I did before. And, I have learned that, even though I like to be busy, time to rest and restore is a fundamental piece of the jigsaw when it comes to living a fulfilling, happy, healthy life.
When the mental load becomes too great and we slip into survival mode, losing all sense of satisfaction, that is the time to stop. If we wish to protect and preserve our health and our sense of well-being, maintenance, before we reach crisis point, is crucial.
Luckily, I’ve developed some management strategies along the way and discovered that taking a break doesn’t always mean going on vacation or having a long holiday. Little pauses in your agenda, prioritizing and restorative weekends away are all great ways of sustaining your energy and fending off overwhelm.
Here are few tips to help you identify that moment when you need to make more room for me-time and how you can find it:
The warning signs you need to reboot
Sleep is no longer refreshing
You are tired a lot, but a good night’s sleep doesn’t fix it.
You struggle to focus on the task at hand
You feel brain foggy and your mind is continuously speeding ahead of your body, moving on to the next task before you’ve completed the current one.
Your moods become erratic
You get irritable, angry or emotional easy and moments of happiness and joy are fleeting.
You feel disconnected from yourself
Your mind, body, and heart are no longer acting as one. You are running on auto-pilot or experience conflict between what you think and feel and what you do.
You begin to cancel appointments
You start canceling social engagements and personal appointments because you’re not in the mood for conversation, don’t feel you can spare the time or are just too tired to keep them.
And, what you can do about it
Accept that you need to stop
First, accept that you are feeling tired and in need of a break.
Balance prioritizing your own needs with the needs of others.
Book a weekend away
Choose a weekend away that won’t overtax you. Avoid city breaks and opt for a short yoga retreat that will help you re-connect and kick start some healthy habits.
Take a mental health day
Call in sick or schedule a day off before you actually make yourself sick. Clear your agenda completely and spend some quiet time with yourself.
Sleep somewhere else
Head to a friend’s house or your parents for an evening, where you won’t be tempted to take out the trash, log in to your email or put the kids to bed, etc.
A day in the country
Spend time in nature, away from all the stimulation and sounds of everyday life. Being outdoors will help revive you.
Do something frivolous and fun
Do something for yourself that you don’t usually allow time for, without guilt or repercussion.
If you have been burning the candle at both ends for some time, you may need more than a few hours or a single weekend to reset. But, time out of your regular routine will give you the chance to decompress and bring a little clarity, so you can make more informed and intelligent choices in the future.
Want to take a break and restore your lifestyle? Go on a weekend yoga holiday, you know, before it’s too late!