WHY IS IT SO HARD TO SLOW DOWN?
There are so many reasons that we avoid taking time for ourselves. We might be fearful of additional workload or of negative perceptions from supervisors, colleagues or peers. We might also feel societal pressure which promotes “busyness" as a badge of honor. We might hesitate to take time for ourselves for fear of how it could impact our finances, our loved ones, or even our perceptions of ourselves. Without even realizing it, we often tether our self-worth to how much we can do, produce, or endure.
Motivation to excel, to achieve our goals, and to do well can be useful in helping us reach our dreams and feel successful. Yet, there’s a limit to how hard and how long we can push ourselves. Trying to “do it all” or drive ourselves too far without a break can lead to additional stress and unhealthy consequences.
The Consequences of Exhaustion
Most of us would probably agree that it’s important to take care of our physical health (although, whether we do or not is an entirely different conversation). We know that in order to maintain a healthy body, we should try to eat right, sleep well, get exercise, and limit our intake of alcohol, sugar, and caffeine. When we become physically ill, we know that it’s important to rest, get adequate hydration and nutrition, and in some cases, take medicine or other treatments to help the body heal.
The same concepts are true for our psychological and emotional health. Your mental wellbeing is essential to being able to function properly at work, school, home, outside activities, and in your relationships. There are things that we can do to maintain our emotional health, and there are things that we may need to do to recover our emotional health.
When we get too exhausted, too stressed, or too overwhelmed, it impairs our ability to think properly and execute basic brain functions - much like a bad cold or mild flu will affect your body’s ability to physically function.
Unfortunately, we often don’t notice this impaired brain functioning until it’s far too late.
So, in order to maintain or recover your emotional health, give yourself the gift of time off.
We’re Giving You Permission to Take a Day Off.
On a day when you would normally stick to the routine and do all the things you do - instead, plan a day for yourself. It doesn’t need to be anything special or excessive - no need to travel, spend a lot of money, or go anywhere. Just rest.
Here are a few ways to enhance your day off and really give your brain what it needs:
Get a solid night’s sleep. Go to bed early the night before, sleep in late, or take a nap (or do them all!). Sleep gives your brain a chance to hit the “reset” button. If possible, go to bed early the next night too, so you can wake refreshed and ready to face the day.
Try planning a day for you to do as little as possible. Give your brain a rest by minimizing “to-do” tasks at home too.
Minimize screen time. Limit your screen time for the day, or ideally avoid them completely! Screens stimulate your brain in a different way. Giving yourself a day-long break allows our brains to regain creativity, mindfulness, and regulation that it loses over time.
Get back to nature. Whether it’s going to a park, a beach, the mountains, your backyard, or sitting on a balcony, you need this. Research shows that breathing fresh air and seeing nature relieves stress and helps our brains heal from the busy-ness of life.
Increase your self-care practices. Practicing self-care is important when we’re feeling great. But it’s even more important when we’re overwhelmed. It may sound counter-intuitive, but it can truly make a difference. Check out this article for easy-to-implement self-care ideas.
Hope you’re having a good day and check in if you need me!