If you think you don’t have time to slow down—think again. It’s easy to get caught up in hustle culture and think you always need to be going, going, going. But while you might feel productive doing more, more, more, this line of thinking will hurt you in the long run. If you don’t take time to take care of yourself, relax, and recharge, you’ll end up burned out—or worse, sick and unable to chase your dreams.
Here are five signs it’s time for you to slow down:
PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS: Have you ever experienced an unexplained racing heart, nausea at the thought of your to do list, intense fatigue or insomnia? Any of these symptoms could be a sign that you need to take some time to care for yourself. Anxiety can trigger a racing heart and nausea, while fatigue and insomnia both can be signs of burnout and depression. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s time to write “call the doctor” on your to-do list. While rest and relaxation are a great starting place for resolving these issues, it’s important to get a check-up to make sure none of these symptoms are signs of a bigger problem!
UNHEALTHY HABITS: Think about the last time you got eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, were able to get a workout in, or cooked a healthy meal. If any (or all) of these things seem like distant dreams, it’s time to pause and assess how you can rearrange your time. We’ve all heard the cliche: “Put on your own oxygen mask first.” It’s a cliche for a reason—because it’s true. If you don’t take time to prioritize your health, before long you won’t be able to fulfill your responsibilities. What changes can you make that will help you replace your unhealthy habits with healthy ones? All-nighters and junk food might get you through the next deadline, but they won’t serve you well long term.
OVERWHELM: Do you often feel overwhelmed, like you’ll never catch up or can’t even figure out where to start? If just looking at your to-do list sends a wave of panic over you, it’s a sign you need to slow down, take a deep breath, and take some time to create a plan. As Dale Carnegie said, “An hour of planning can save you ten hours of doing.” Don’t run three errands when you could run one, or waste time trying to multitask when five dedicated minutes could knock a task off your list. Instead of letting disorganization steal your time and overwhelm you, try these three simple tricks to help you move from scattered to focused.
LESS THAN 100%: Get really honest with yourself for a minute—are you giving your best to your responsibilities (both personal and professional) or are you cutting corners because you are too over-committed? If you aren’t giving your best, it’s time to stop and think about what you may need to trim from your life. Just because you enjoyed a volunteer opportunity or social commitment five years ago doesn’t mean you need to stay committed to it for the rest of your life. You can also think about this in terms of what you could pay someone else to do: is a subscription for grocery pickup or delivery worth the amount of time you’ll get back when you don’t have to spend an hour at the store every week? Would paying a neighbourhood kid to mow the lawn give them a little extra spending money and you some much-needed time to work on your business? Find the places where you can create a little margin in your life—when you have some breathing room, you’ll be able to devote more energy and attention to the important things.
LACK OF FUN: When’s the last time you did something just because you enjoyed it? Are you constantly rushing from task to task or are you taking time to enjoy life? If you don’t have time for hobbies, friends, or other things that fulfill you outside of work, it’s time to slow down and figure out how to make space for those things. Stop and think about the last time you did something just for fun. If you can’t remember, grab your calendar right now and find some blank space. Brainstorm a list of things you’d love to do but don’t ever have time for—that art exhibit you’ve been dying to see, a long walk on your favorite trail, a night out with your friends. Pick one and write it on your calendar. Treat that time block just like you would treat an important meeting. Now look ahead and schedule another thing from your list. Life is meant to be enjoyed—if you are constantly speeding through it, you are missing beautiful moments you’ll never get back.
Slowing down doesn’t mean you are giving up on your dreams or that you’ll get less done. Taking time to care for yourself can actually boost your creativity and productivity. Go ahead, give it a try—you’ll be amazed at how much more fun life is when you have the time and energy to enjoy it!