Aug 21, 2017

When It's Time to Slow Down

Location: The Library Restaurant | Sapphire Valley, NC

It's so easy to feel overwhelmed these days. From personal goals and needs, to family and friends, and work—plus everything in between. It's harder than ever to slow down, re-evaluate, and course correct as we move through our days. The summer left me feeling overwhelmed, anxious, stir-crazy and on the verge of burnout. After moving away from my entire world for thirty years, in March, I felt like I had so much to do to feel settled and things I needed to prove to myself. On top of that, I needed to find a routine—some structure— all over again.

I stretched myself so thin. I wanted to feel like I was home, but I've only been here four months. I wanted to make plans to see friends and family as soon as possible, knowing it takes time to plan trips. I focused on freelance work every night of the week, after working a full-time job during the day. I wanted time to exercise, but didn't allow myself to schedule the time. Books and music and the outdoors were high on my list too, but allowing myself to slow down and enjoy the little things in life seemed selfish.

Toward the end of July I was on the edge of the burnout cliff and I knew I needed to change some things—and fast.

When It's Time to Slow Down

1. You are easily irritated.

Moving too quick through life, and not having the time to slow down and unwind—even at the end of the night—leaves us feeling stressed and high-strung. When this happens, it also shortens our fuse and lowers our patience, which means we lose our cool a whole lot quicker than we might under normal circumstances. I realize when I start hammering myself with harsh thoughts or find myself being short with the people closest to me that I need to take a step back.

2. You don't sleep well.

Sleep is one of the first things to go when life gets out of control. Sometimes it stems from overanalyzing every detail from the day because you haven't had time to decompress and shake off the day. Other times it's because we've overcommitted our time to several different things and there isn't enough hours in the day to finish everything.

For me, it was a mix of both. I allowed myself to overcommit my time to work projects, so while I'd be in my pajamas around 8 pm and in bed around 10, I'd be in bed with my laptop, lights blazing, and still working. So, in reality, I wasn't turning the lights out until midnight or later and then struggled to get out of bed at 7:30 the next morning to go to the office and do it all over again. Pile on my tendency to overanalyze everything from my day—the good, the bad, and the ugly—and even when I did turn out the light I couldn't sleep.

I'm still working on this, but I've made a conscious effort to set aside my computer about 10 pm and start to wind down for bed. I wash my face and go through my skincare routine for relaxation, then I set up coffee for the next morning. Once I sink into bed, I try to read for a bit—not on my iPad— spray some lavender sleep spray and click out the light.

3. You Stop Exercising.

I'm so quick to trim out exercise when I'm too busy. And when I cut out exercise, it tends to take a. whole slew of things with it. I don't make the best healthy food choices anymore, I'll have a glass of wine a night, in place of exercise, to de-stress, but know it's not the same. With the trimming out and bad nutrition choices that come with it, I also feel an increase in stress and anxiety—both of which that tend to feel unmanageable.

Three weeks ago I made the decision to find a new yoga studio. I hadn't been to yoga since I moved here and I missed the way my body and mind felt walking out of class. So, I signed up for a one month, unlimited membership and I have been going at least three times a week, but aim for four classes a week. My Monday night class is all about slowing down, deep breaths, long posture holds and stress relief. We spend most of the class on our mat, holding stretch positions for two to five minutes. Spending that hour to be quiet and calm, while rebalancing my thoughts and perspective. I honestly have never felt so at peace as I do when I leave that class. Tuesday night class is also on the slower side, but incorporates more stretches to help with the ailments that come from desk sitting like lower back pain, rounded and tight shoulders, and tip hips. I leave class feeling stretched out and a bit sore from working out all the kinks. Whereas, Wednesday night class is the most active class I take. The instructor focuses on flowing poses and balance work. She challenges us to find our edge, so our bodies can surprise us with what it's capable doing—if only for a short period of time.

4. You start feeling unsettled.

When I start to feel restless and unsettled—like I'm not where I'm supposed to be—I know it's my way of freaking out because I'm losing control over things in my life. When I get the urge to run away or think, "It would be so nice if I didn't have to do X" it's a downward slide from there. When this happens, I let myself feel that way and think those thoughts. To squelch it, I either plan a little staycation—go out to breakfast, then come back grab a book and head out to the pool or throw on some leggings and sneakers and hit a beautiful trail. Or, I hopefully have an upcoming trip planned with my family that I can look forward to.

Now that I'm only a few hours from Asheville, it's so nice to pop over for the weekend on a trip with my mom. She'll fly into Chattanooga and we'll hit the road, escaping to our safe haven for a few days. I'm able to come back, feeling reconnected to the world around me, chilled out, unplugged and ready to return to my responsibilities.

How do you know?

When do you realize it's time to slow down and reset your intentions?
When life gets stressful and out of control, I reach for comfort clothes like my favorite denim cutoffs and these extra soft and comfortable T's from Express. I feel most like myself when my outfit is simple and feels like a true representation of me. I'm a Florida girl, and a Virgo, so nature is where I feel safe and relaxed. I like visiting the city, but prefer to live my life where I can feel small. up against something natural and overwhelmingly large—the mountains, a waterfall, a lake or ocean. Feeling the largeness of something natural puts me back in my place and reminds me how small some issues really are. Do I need to worry that I didn't do my laundry this week? No. Did I leave some dishes in the sink? Oh well. Should I care that the last post in Instagram didn't get as many likes as previous pictures?  Who cares. 

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