Without a doubt, life can be stressful, and sometimes we just need a break. Between work and social obligations, personal pressures, and lack of adequate sleep, our minds and bodies can definitely slow down. By looking out for the warning signs that we've met our limits and are in need of some serious leisure time and self-love, we can protect our bodies from breaking down and keep our wellbeing in tact.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on feeling more at ease and on listening to and respecting their bodies. While I encourage positivity and confidence, we sometimes think we are invincible and overestimate just how much pressure and stress our minds and bodies can take. Between sore muscles, sleepy eye lids, and a real "burnout" sort of mood, sometimes we need to recognize a cry for help and pay attention to serving ourselves in a way that will center us and keep us stronger moving forward.
By looking for the signs that show that our bodies are needing rest and might want to shake some things up, we can stay happier, healthier and more in love with life each day. Here are eleven things to look for in deciding when to take a breather.
1. Work Takes Up Your Whole Life
"Many of us have become victims to a workaholic culture. We have been socialized to thrive best in states of busyness and 'striving to get ahead," says Chicago-based therapist Chelsea Hudson, LCPC, over email correspondence with Bustle. If you notice that your hours are crazy and are not allowing for any time for social fun or downtime, it's likely that your body and mind will follow suit and burn quickly.
2. You Feel Out Of Tune With Your Body
If you don't feel like yourself or you experiences aches, muscle pain, mental fog, or just dulled mood, you are probably not balanced hormonally. "Regular 'self check-in’s' can help you identify if you have been sleeping enough, meeting your nutritional needs, taking regular breaks during the day and including enough pleasurable activities in your life," says Hudson. Ask yourself how you are feeling, keep tabs on your progress, and give your body what it needs.
3. You Feel Like You Have No Time
Having a crazy schedule often makes you feel as though there is no time for anything. A great tactic is to set alarms to remind yourself to do certain things that will help you feel healthier and beat fatigue. These include "responding to a phone reminder you have set where you ask yourself how tired you feel, if you should try get an early night, whether you’ve eaten three meals and snacks that day, and where you can fit in some self-care time," says Hudson.
4. You Feel Anxious Taking Breaks Or Sleep
If you feel uneasy letting yourself go to bed at a reasonable hour or to take a nap in the middle of the day, it might mean that you're overworked and need a break before your body automatically shuts down involuntarily. "When overexertion has become one’s automatic mode of functioning, taking a break can often be experienced as anxiety provoking because of the unfamiliarity and ambiguity," says Hudson. Acknowledge this fact and try and change your perception.
5. You Feel Emotionally Unstable
"Apathy, appetite changes, sleep disturbances, irritability, panic attacks and hopelessness can all be signs that you have pushed yourself too far and need a break," says Hudson. The body, when in a chronic fatigued state, can affect hormones, mood, brain health and mental sharpness and appetite regulation. If these factors become abnormal, pay attention to the symptoms, and work to get more rest and be careful with prioritizing yourself.
6. It's Hard To Move Your Legs
If your legs feel physically drained, and it is hard to walk around, get out of bed, and definitely exercise, you might not be getting adequate protein and nutrients to fuel your body. It's common to forgot to eat right when you're pushing yourself too hard. Eating protein is key. "Protein, when digested by the body, is broken down into amino acids and slowly converted into glucose or fatty acids. This provides a longer-lasting source of energy than a snack packed full of carbs can," says Steve McKee of New Zealand Jerky, over email with Bustle.
7. Your Normal Workout Feels Much Harder
As an avid exerciser, I do something to work my body every day. Whether it's a kettlebell class, kickboxing, running, the elliptical, HIIT, or hip hop (and yes, I love that weekly variety!), I know that if my body starts to not perform as well, it must be tired and overworked. When I notice a difference in my workouts, relative to moves that my body is trained to do, I know I need to dial it back.
8. You Feel More Confused & Foggy
Brain fog can be a sign that you're dealing with too much. When things begin to seem less clear, and you might experience troubling remembering appointments, dates, deadlines or simple interactions, you should give yourself a break. "The signs of physical exhaustion are similar to that of dehydration. Lightheadedness, confusion, lethargy, physical discomfort, etc," says Nic Bartolotta, HHP, MPT and Chief Clinical Officer at Range of Motion Products, LLC, over email with Bustle.
9. You Feel Uncomfortable In Your Own Skin
When you feel uncomfortable, both physically and mentally, you should take some rest to nurture your body and gain back your confidence and ability to stay in control. Physical indications might involve "a deep and pervasive ache throughout your muscles and joints," says Bartolotta. "When it feels like you just can't get comfortable in your body it is your body's way of telling you to take a hot bath and rest," he adds.
10. You Can't Power Down Your Phone
If you wake up straight to emails, reply to them in bed at night, take phone calls at three in the morning, or are just constantly walking around with phone in hand and eyes glued to the screen, then it's clear that electronics are taking too great of a role in your life and are leading to disconnection from the real world. Too much screen time can damage your health over time, so it's important to secure a cap.
11. You Forget To Note Your Accomplishments
If you are only focused on the negatives, such as the things that have not yet achieved or have failed to overcome, rather than on the positive aspects in your life, then you might feel too low and overwhelmed to appreciate what you have and to enjoy life to its fullest. While it's important to have goals and to work hard towards meeting them, it's also critical to balance out your dreams and anxieties with wonderful, proud-worthy moments to help fuel your drive and maintain confidence.
If you begin to feel run down, physically or mentally, it might be a sign that you need a break and have reached your limits. In order to keep going and stay strong in life, it's best to have a balance of goals, worries, and urgencies along with fun and restful activities with both others and just yourself.
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