When was the last time you really, truly took some time for yourself? If you're like so many people on this busy planet of ours, then I bet it's been ages. With your packed schedule, stressful job, and one million social obligations, I'm sure there's a decided lack of "me" time.
It might not feel like that big of a deal. It may even feel necessary, or like an unavoidable sign of the times. But trust me when I say that never taking time for yourself can become quite the problem. "Alone time is important for so many reasons," says Dr. Michele Barton, in an email to Bustle. "Checking in regularly is a logical approach to maintaining and regulating our behavior. When we are out and about dealing with family, friends, jobs, traffic, and other stresses, we cannot put all the focus on ourselves."
This can lead to high levels of stress, burn out — even irritability and crankiness beyond measure. When it gets to that point, it's time to cuddle up at home with no one but yourself. "We need to love ourselves, we need to care for ourselves, as much, if not more than for others," Barton says. "It might sound funny but sometimes we deserve 100 percent of our own attention, too." Read on for some signs that you've gotta slow down, and pay more attention to yourself.
1. Moodiness Is Your New MO
We all have moments when we "just can't deal," but keep an eye out for signs of emotional dysregulation — angry outbursts, aggression, etc. This can be a sign that you need to check in with yourself, Barton tells me. "One of my clients eloquently states 'I pull myself aside' and work out what my emotions are trying to tell me before reacting," she says. Doing so might be just the break you need.
2. Feelings Of Frustration Abound
While it's totally OK to feel frustrated, it's not OK if it's a near-constant thing. For example, you shouldn't lose your cool when hitting traffic, or blow up at your partner when they ask a simple question. "This is sure sign that you are craving to not be around people, even if they are your loved ones," said life coach Hailey Yatros on ThoughtCatalog.com.
3. Nothing Feels Fun
If your plans turn from something you want to do, to something you have to do, consider that a sign you need time to yourself. "If you sense that things aren’t as enjoyable as they once were, it may be time to slow down," noted health writer Suzanne Kane on PsychCentral.com. After taking a day or two to do only what you want to do, joining back up with society will feel much more enjoyable.
4. You Are Way Too Stressed
Stress may feel unavoidable these days, but it should never feel out of control. "Like a clock that’s wound too tight, if you don’t do something to release some of this tension, nothing good can result," Kane said. If things feel to this point, then by all means, step away. Take time to relax 'til you feel better.
5. Everything Is Exhausting
If you're like me, then you're pretty much always tired. But there's a big difference between feeling a bit sleepy, and feeling inexplicably exhausted. "When you get plenty of sleep, yet you still feel tired, there’s more at work here than you know," said Kane. It could be that a packed schedule, and ceaseless responsibilities, has worn you into the ground.
6. You Live For Canceled Plans
Deep down, all of us love a cancelled plan. It means staying home, drinking some wine, and lounging in sweatpants. (A perfect evening, if you ask me.) But take note if you secretly hope all your plans will be cancelled. Or worse, if you start to be the one bailing. "If you're the queen of cancellations, this is a surefire sign you are overbooked (you're tired, or your schedule is just too tight)," said health writer M. Lin on HuffingtonPost.com. Pairing back on your social obligations will make going out more fun, instead of something that feels like a chore.
7. Your Irritability Has Reached Scary Proportions
Are you snapping at everyone? If so, your short-tempered ways could mean you need to excuse yourself from the world for a while. Chill in another room, take a nap, or go for a walk until your emotions feel a tad more under control.
8. Nothing About Your Day Is Spontaneous
While it's considered admirable to have a perfectly appointed (read: fully-packed) schedule, hear me when I say it's not good if there is zero wiggle room, or any space for error. As Lin said, "If your schedule is starting to feel more like your boss than your assistant, it's a warning sign that you're overbooked." And that's not good.
9. You're Always Eating On-The-Go
I'm the queen of snacking in my car, but I also make time for real, adult meals. (Like, at a table.) If you never have time for such stationary things, it's a huge indicator that you are likely too busy. "Savoring a meal at a leisurely pace is one of life's greatest pleasures, and we lose connection with our food and bodies if we eat with lots of distractions," Lin said. Make sure you find time to give yourself this simple treat.
10. Life Is On Fast Forward
If you're constantly thinking it's Tuesday when it's actually Friday, it could be that your life is moving too fast. And that's usually due to a busy schedule that doesn't allow you to stop and smell the proverbial roses. As Kane said, "Where’s your sense of pacing? No one can keep going at top speed and produce quality work." In other words, it's doing no one any good to speed through life, so give yourself permission to step away, and slow down.
11. Your Body Is Breaking Down
If you make life about everyone else, it often is at the expense of your own needs. Sleep, eating healthy foods, exercising — you name it, it moves to the bottom of your list. Is that the case for you? Then take a cue from your body and retreat for a while.
Even if it's just for a short amount of time, having some "me" time is not only relaxing, but entirely necessary.
Images: Pexels (12)