You ever have one of those days where it all becomes too much? The phone won’t stop ringing, everything is going wrong, people keep bringing you fires to put out, the to-do list keeps growing when it should be shrinking…
Yeah, me too.
There are days when I have so much to do that it doesn’t feel like there’s an empty 30 seconds anywhere in the calendar. And on those days, you can bet I’m more likely to be overwhelmed, tired, stressed and about to reach my breaking point.
I know I’m not alone in that.
But what can you do on those kinds of days? You can’t crawl under your desk or hide from the world with a bottle of wine (even if you’d like to!). But you also know that, if you don’t do something, chances are you’re going to snap.
In these instances, I suggest you give yourself a timeout.
Now, I KNOW it feels like you don’t have any free moments to spare! But, if you’re anything like me, the reality is this: if we don’t find 30 seconds, 5 minutes, 30 minutes SOMEWHERE, that breaking point will come sooner than expected. You’re better off forcing yourself into a timeout than trying to “power through” – which, let’s face it, usually involves snapping at someone who didn’t deserve it.
So what should your timeout look like? That’s up to you!
A timeout is any sort of mental, physical or emotional break from the hubbub of everyday life. This isn’t necessarily a vacation or weekend – it’s something short that you can insert when life gets hectic. It doesn’t solve every problem, but it does create space for you to let things go, think clearly, and calm down. Here are five of my favorite timeouts:
- Go for a walk. Around the block. Around the building. Laps around your office. Just get up and move around!
- Do a five-minute meditation using an app like Headspace or Calm. A lot of times, overwhelm comes from just having too much stuff floating around in your brain. A guided meditation can help slow things down.
- Call a friend or talk to a trusted colleague. I'm wary sometimes of venting just for the sake of venting, but I also know that bottling up emotions and feelings and thoughts helps no one. If your overwhelm comes when you're holding it all in, reach out to a friend or trusted colleague who can help you "get it out" or work through whatever's in your brain.
- Close your office door, find a comfortable spot, close your eyes and take 10 deep breaths. Similar to meditation, taking a few short breaths (or even a power nap, if you can swing it!) helps slow down the craziness. When you're not running a million miles a minute, it's easier to gain perspective and think more clearly about how to solve challenges.
- Go to the gym or get another sort of workout in. This is a good one if your timeout can be 30-60 minutes long! Burn off some energy or stretch our your tension.
Timeouts don’t have to be fancy, take forever, or create an inconvenience for the people around you. And one more thing: timeouts aren’t selfish – you deserve a few minutes that are just for you (and they may even save someone from undeservedly getting ripped a new one).
How do you take a timeout? How do you know you need one? Share it in the comments!
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Featured photo by rawpixel on Unsplash