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We all get caught in the rush. There’s work to do and people to meet and birthday parties and yoga class and volunteering and travel and meditation and self-improvement and errands and catching that great exhibition and…rat race

It.

Goes.

On.

We are delighted with our full, rich, busy lives and we also feel like we’re barely clinging on some days. It can get hard to distinguish how we really feel through all the should-does and appointments. We run the risk of burnout. Of turning what should be joyous and rewarding into a tiresome chore.

There are times when we’re just unmotivated, a little down in the dumps, and going to an extra yoga class, or making the effort to meet a friend for coffee will give us the lift we need. Other times, we need to make a conscious effort to avoid spinning our wheels. Here are three signs you need to slow down.

You’re tired

Sounds obvious, right? But you’d be surprised how many people ignore exhaustion. Or take pride in it. You might get by on coffee and adrenaline for a while but you can’t fool your body. According to the NHS sleep deprivation sets you up for serious illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and obesity. In other words, think twice before dragging yourself out of bed after a few hours sleep to make 7AM yoga. Your body isn’t going to absorb the benefits of your practice, or your good nutrition, or anything else, if it is scrambling to function because of lack of sleep.

You’re grumpy

We all have off-days but if you find yourself in a permanent bad mood something is out of balance. We humans have finite energy. If our minds and bodies are busy and stressed we don’t have much bandwidth left to be open-minded, thoughtful, patient, attentive, compassionate. The effort to be our best selves can inadvertently bring out our worst. This is especially true in our intimate relationships with partners, family and close friends. They almost always bear the brunt when we’re too busy, so if you’re over-committed step back and give yourself and them a break.

You’re sick

If your desk at work looks like a Boots outlet, you need to take a look at your schedule. Getting sick occasionally is normal. Being constantly unwell is a sign your immune system is run down. A meta study of research on the relationship between stress and immunity found that “for stress of any significant duration, from a few days to a few months or years, as happens in real life, all aspects of immunity went downhill.” So if you don’t feel well, don’t try to work through it. Make space in your schedule and give your body time to heal itself naturally.

How do you know when it’s time to slow down? Share in the Comments.

photo credit: The National Archives UK Strike breakers via photopin (license)