10 Signs that you Need to Slow Down
Stress is a major creativity killer. The problem is, a lot of us don’t recognize it until we’re three quarters of the way through a bag of Oreos or in the doctor’s office with a diagnosis for adrenal fatigue.
The trick to handling stress is to stop it before it starts. Easier said than done. If you miss that train though, the second-best thing is to know how to recognize stress so you can know when you need to back off.
Know your red flags. Here are some of the most common ones:
- You aren’t living in the moment: If you’re always thinking about the past or the future-to do lists, making ends meet, what you’ll make for dinner, why did you do that, you didn’t get enough done-then your brain is overloaded and you need to take some time to breathe.
- You feel disconnected from your body: When I’m overly busy, the first thing to go is my body connection. I find myself eating out of habit or convenience rather than waiting for my hunger signals, I stay up late, and I eat a lot more sugar. It’s worth it to take the time to reestablish communication from your body. Yoga or “lie down” meditation works well for me.
- You can’t do one thing at a time: You eat lunch while answering emails, make to-do lists during church (guilty), things like that. Multi-tasking is not as efficient as it seems. It just causes more stress and renders us unable to give each task the care it deserves.
- It takes you forever to fall asleep because your mind is going in a million different directions.
- You find it hard to relax because you feel like you should be doing something else.
- You feel like you don’t get enough done: When you allow yourself to give each task the time it deserves, you feel much more accomplished because you know you did a good job, and you did it deliberately. You were present. Feeling like you haven’t done enough is also a sign that you need to be gentle with yourself, respect your limits, and possibly manage your time better. Find ways to work smarter, not harder.
- Your body is protesting: You’re face starts to resemble the surface of Mars, your pants are tight, you feel a drag in the afternoon, you can’t get out of bed in the morning or get to sleep at night, your back hurts-sound familiar? That’s your body screaming for attention. In the hustle and bustle, you’re poor body has been neglected because you haven’t been listening to it. Listen to it, find out what it needs, and do it.
- “Fun” stuff doesn’t feel so fun because you’d rather veg: When I’m stressed, you’d think that making art and writing is a great stress-reliever. If I catch stress early, creating does feel great, but if I let stress get too far along without kicking it in the butt, I find that I don’t feel like painting. All I want to do is sit on the couch with a box of Fererro Rocher and watch Fraggle Rock. If I don’t have the mental energy to create, I know something’s gotta give.
- The tiniest things overwhelm you: When my life feels like a minefield, the idea of balancing my checkbook or washing the dishes seems gargantuan. It’s not because I have better things to do, it’s because I feel like I already have so many things piled up on me that emailing a gallery director feels like it’ll crush me. Secret: it’s not the little task that’s daunting, it’s the collective weight of that and the other 234 things you think you have to do, or the weight of worry. Dump that weight. You don’t need it.
- You feel numb: The way that most of us deal with stress is to turn off. We go into Robot Mode so that we can push through whatever needs to get done without those pesky emotions or intuition whining in our ear to slow down. If you can’t hear your intuition, that’s a good sign that you’d better tune into it. It’s there to take care of you.
Breathe. Delegate. Get some perspective. Learning to recognize your own red flags is the first step to dealing with them. Life is much too short for stress.