Sometimes, there is no Kaboom, no catastrophe that derails your plan. Sometimes you simply pushed yourself too hard. Maybe you’re like me and over-committed yourself to classes, a day job, writing, blogging, and other activities. Perhaps you had a sudden, unexpected health problem. Or you’ve simply gotten worn down by the day-to-day things that get under your skin. Now you barely have the energy to get through the day. Or you’ve caught the current flu bug or cold and you can’t seem to get over it. Your body and mind say ENOUGH.
I found myself in that position at the end of January. For six months I pushed myself, working 12- 15 hour days every day of the week. It was an invigorating time. I was learning new things, doing new, fascinating, and highly enjoyable things. I accomplished a ton. Then, I completed the last big project and my brain and body went WHOA. I should have paid attention to the warning signs. Do you know the warning signs that you need a break?
Warning Signs That You’re Working Too Hard:
- Your Productivity Declines – you put in more hours, yet get less and less done.
- You Don’t Have Time – for a favor, a commitment, a date with your friend or sweetheart, or even for your cherished indulgences.
- You Forget – to eat, an appointment, where you put that report or your keys.
- Things Are Out of Control – you’re always late; your normally neat desk is a mess; the dirty dishes are mutating in the sink; the stacks of bills or laundry (or both) are quickly becoming a mountain you can’t climb.
- Lack of Focus or Creativity – you flit from one task to the next, never finishing and never find a solution; you struggle to come up with new ideas, solutions to problems, or how to express an idea.
- Loss of Joy – you are beginning to dread tasks that normally you find enjoyable.
- Sleep Issues – you can’t sleep; can’t stay asleep; or you want to do nothing but sleep.
- Irritability – you snap at loved ones unjustly; you find yourself ‘just one more stupid driver’ short of total road rage.
- Health Issues – you have migraines or stomach problems on a daily basis; your acne, arthritis or asthma flares more frequently.
- Warnings from Friends and Family – you haven’t talked in weeks; your significant other tiptoes around the house afraid to disturb you; friends and family tell you you’re always busy, or they sit you down for an ‘intervention.’
You don’t want to know how up-close and personal I know all those warning signs. Really, you don’t. 🙂
But you do want to know what you can do when you recognize the warning signs in yourself.
Five Things to Do to Beat Stress:
- Check Your Body
Are you fatigued despite getting 7 or 8 hours of sleep? Is your urine dark? The first sign of dehydration is fatigue. Be certain to drink plenty of water every day.
Is your resting heart rate up? Is your blood pressure up? If yes, be certain you get more sleep and more exercise. It’s not a matter of ‘when I can fit it in,’ it’s a matter of get it done or pay a price.
Re-prioritize – take a day to look at what you want to accomplish.
- Look hard at your list. Are there some things that really don’t need to be done right now? Put them aside. Is there some pieces of what you do that you can outsource? Hire a laundry lady or a housekeeper; have the secretary type up those letters; or you can ask family to help with tasks for a while.
- Make a new plan. Break the task into smaller chunks that are more manageable. Make goals that allow you time to do the next four items on this list.
- Schedule Fun – do something you love. Even just one hour a week can help. Take a walk, a swim, a jog. Meditate. Listen to music. Watch a movie. Read a book.
- Take time off – An hour, a day, a week or more. Do something entirely different, at a different pace. Give yourself permission to breathe, to laugh, to do absolutely nothing.
Slowing down is not something I do willingly. I tend to be a bit (DH chimes in with “majorly!%#34;) obsessive. I throw everything I’ve got into a project. I forget to sleep, to eat, to call friends and family. This is true not just of my writing or blogging, but of attention to my day job, household chores, whatever I want to ‘get done.’ I don’t seem to know how to pace myself. But, I’m learning.
If you push yourself too hard, something has got to give. Don’t be like me and let exhaustion make it impossible to work. Yes, there are times when an extra work load is needed. Just remember to listen: Listen to your body, your mind, your friends, and your family.
To my dear readers: Thank you all so very much for your kind thoughts and wishes for me. I have belatedly followed my own advice. I’ve made new goals and going forward from here.
Your readership means more to me than you can know. And when you take the time to leave a comment or two, I am thrilled and honored you’ve chosen to spend your valuable time with me.
What about you? Have you ever pushed yourself too hard? How did you recover?