Have you ever got to the point where the simplest request just makes you want to throw a grown-up tantrum? Yes; the one where you channel that two-year-old girl – (yours or when you were that age). It could be any typical evening: Dinner is cooking, your partner is doing things in the kitchen, and your child is playing in their room, the dog is waiting patiently for dinner. You could be wrapping up some work emails or folding clothes in the living room when your partner comes and asks you something, your child starts making noises while they play, or the dog; simply barks.
Suddenly you feel your blood pressure rise, you break into a whole body sweat and your internal dialogue is saying “just go away” and to cap it all off adrenaline is absolutely pumping through your body. This is your body screaming that you are well overdue for some “me” time.
As a woman, partner, mother and contributor in this society, it can be easy to get caught up in a cycle of constantly doing things for other people. However, it’s essential to make sure we take care of ourselves, too. Sometimes that means stepping away from it all to spend some time on your own. By not giving ourselves this time to recharge, we run the risk of burning out, both emotionally and physically.
Having learnt the hard way by burning out a couple of times, I’ve now established the pre-cursers to burning out and am now able to recognise the warning signs that I’m pushing myself too much. Let me share some of the signs that I’ve identified that say “it’s time to look after you girl”. Here are the primary five.
1. Fun is a Three Letter Word
One of the earliest indicators that I’m in need of some time to myself is when things just don’t sound enjoyable. I may find myself complaining internally about being bored or procrastinating on creative projects I normally would have looked forward to doing.
It’s as if my spirit needs to recharge before it can take on anything that involves expending creative energy.
When I notice this happening, I realise it’s time for a “me date.” This may be as simple as browsing magazines for an hour or getting myself a tea and looking through a favourite coffee table book to spark the creative flair. This downtime can really help re-connect with your creativity and provides some escapism from the daily routine.
2. Emotional Consumption Creeps In
When I’ve found cooking chocolate enjoyable on its own, it’s safe to say I’m hiding emotions in food, engaging the taste buds. Whether your preferences are usually sweet or a savoury, suddenly either will do. It is there and it’s a form of escape from your stressed-out state.
Acknowledging that you are reaching for food to sooth yourself is the first step and immediately, grab a glass of water and step away from the kitchen. Go somewhere quiet to reflect and consider what will help you recharge.
You may actually need some food, giving yourself space to think first will prevent over-eating. Do a face mask and hop in the bath, or grab another glass of water and read a chapter of your book.
Frequently it is quiet time that you’re after.
3. Little Things Lead to Overwhelm
I’m capable and can usually manage multiple responsibilities and be exceptionally organised all whilst maintaining a sense of calm. However, sometimes I find myself getting overwhelmed by the smallest things.
Maybe I notice partway through making dinner that I’m missing an ingredient and become emotionally paralysed trying to figure out a substitution. Or I realise after leaving the supermarket that I forgot to the one thing that wasn’t on my list that I thought about on my way to the shops and burst into tears.
Anytime I notice that I’m no longer able to roll with these things and am instead stopped by them, it’s a good indicator to myself that I’ve got too much on my plate and need to take a break. Usually this is a good time for me to practice self-care. This includes:
- Giving myself a firm reality check. Is this situation really the end of the world?
- Finding out if my basic needs are met. Am I hungry? Do I need to drink some water? Would I feel better if I lie down for a few minutes?
- Reaching out for help. Ask my partner, if you don’t ask they don’t know!
By taking some of those little things off my plate, I’m able to regain some time to myself to properly relax and recharge.
4. Snapping at My Loved Ones
I’m a patient person and I pride myself on being even-tempered. So, when noises I hear get under my skin, or when I get frustrated by my partner or colleague asking me a question, I know something is up.
This is the one that upsets me most and I KNOW I need “time alone”.
When I find myself getting grumpy and snappy with my loved ones, I’ll put myself in what I call a “self-imposed timeout.” This is reserved for when you or someone in your family knows they’ve reached their limit and really need to take a few minutes away.
For me, I’ll often go into the bedroom and take some deep breaths close my eyes and acknowledge that I know I need to dis-connect for a few minutes to identify what I DO need at that point in time. When you are ready to join your family again, it is important to apologise for snapping and explain that you had reached your limit and needed time out to reset and be yourself again.
5. I Want to Hide in the Toilet, Bathroom, Cupboard & Retreat Socially
On more than one occasion I’ve snuck into the bathroom with my phone, not because I needed to go, but because I just wanted to get a few moments of quiet. This act of actually removing myself from my family is my body telling me that I really need more alone time and not just in my bathroom for five minutes!
When I find myself doing this or having the urge to lock myself in the bedroom or retreat socially, then I know its really time to get away. I’ll pull out my diary and look for some time out with just myself. Or I’ll ask my partner if we can talk about a good time for me to get away for a few days and schedule a getaway.
I come back from these times refreshed and a more present partner, and my happy bubbly self!
After all we are human! Alone time is not a weakness, it is identifying you have reached the point where you need a break; an incredible strength. Burnout and doing it all, all the time is not a badge of honour.
Need to know more about “alone time” or managing stress once you have had some “alone time”, lets chat. Together we can work out a plan so that you can avoid stress leading to burnout.