“Wisdom is knowing when to have rest, when to have activity, and how much of each to have.” ~Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
You feel restless. Your eating habits have changed. You are awake at all hours of the night. You have lost all motivation. You have no energy or desire to socialize. You cannot concentrate. You feel indifferent, negative, and withdrawn. Life has lost its color and you do not enjoy things like you used to. What is going on? It might be time to power down.
What is the difference between recharging and powering down? Let me explain with an analogy: Think about your phone or computer. How often does it need to recharge? At least once a day. Likewise, you and I need to “recharge” daily as well–maybe you do so by exercising, meditating, going on a drive, reading a book, getting to bed early, soaking in the tub, self-care, etc. Then there are times when your phone is going completely haywire and you realize it has been months since you turned it off completely (even though you have been charging it daily). So you power that sucker down, give it a minute to reset and then it works flawlessly. In this same fashion, you and I need to power down from time to time.
When was the last time you powered down? The following are some of the key signs you may need to power down: Major changes in eating habits or loss of appetite, unprecedented cynicism, difficulty concentrating, getting sick more frequently, lack of energy or motivation, feelings of frustration, physical symptoms such as headaches or stomach aches, inability to sleep despite being tired, turning to drugs or alcohol to cope with stress, withdrawing from friends, family, or co-workers, etc.
Let’s say you are experiencing one or several of these symptoms. Now what? How can you power down? Even though your responsibilities are important, your health is mandatory — and not taking care of yourself will cause you more stress than you already feel. Along with allowing your body to unwind, a mental break will be a great opportunity to start fresh and clear. The following three suggestions are simple, yet effective ways you can power down:
- VACATION. Literally get out of town. One of my family members has a rigorous profession in the medical field, and he lives for his time on the beach in Maui. He and his wife book their trips a year out and anxiously await the relief that comes from getting away and doing nothing for several days. Unwind. Relax. You deserve it!
- STAYCATION. Your home can be a sanctuary just like Maui’s beaches. Is there a local restaurant you have been dying to try? Or a museum you have wanted to visit? Movie you have wanted to see? Whatever it is, make the most of your home(town) and give yourself permission to do what you want. Maybe that will be resting or reading all day while soaking in the bathtub. That is the beauty of a staycation…you get to do whatever you want in your space!
- SLEEP. Sleep deserves its own bullet point. I have a friend who schedules a weekend a couple times a way where she books a hotel room for herself, takes a Unisom, turns the AC on super cold, closes the curtains, and goes to bed without setting an alarm. She just lets herself sleep as long as she needs. I can guarantee that you and I are both short on sleep. I know I always feel better when I am rested…power down by getting some quality sleep!
You know that feeling of relief when your phone is glitchy and slow, then you power it down and it works perfectly when it restarts? In a similar way, powering down is something you and I should do regularly. It will help reduce stress, allow for clearer thinking, increased productivity, greater happiness, and better relationships–including self-love. Whether you plan a vacation, a staycation, or a day of [literal] rest, it is important to take a break from work, the routine, and the demands of life in order to keep stress levels in check. Remember that by doing this you are not shirking responsibility. You are taking care of yourself so you will have the stamina to do and be your best. Watch for the warning signs and take care of yourself enough to know that you need to power down. This will help you reboot feeling refreshed and restored.
Please keep in mind that many of these warning signs are akin to symptoms of depression. If you find that these feelings or behaviors persist, even after powering down, or that guilt prevents you from taking care of yourself, I would urge you to follow-up with a mental health professional, like a therapist for additional support. Please do not hesitate to contact me today!
Melissa Cluff is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist based in North Texas, providing face-to-face and telehealth therapy options to clients in Texas.
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- Healing Brave: 14 Quotes about Rest & Being Kind Enough to Give Yourself a Break
- Healthline: 10 Ways to Deal with Feeling Overwhelmed
- Healthline: 12 Signs You Need to Take a Break ASAP
- LifeHack: 10 WARNING Signs You Definitely Need A Break
- The Every Girl: 5 Signs You Need a Mental Break
- Verywellmind: How to Take a Break From Work (and Why You Need It)