By Lindsey Brady
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test what God’s will is: his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2 NIV).
In today’s culture, we’re taught that busier is better. The more that you can accomplish in a day gives you more value as a person. But remember, the things you do only count when you tell other people about them. Flood your Instagram with your accomplishments and make sure to feel bad when you don’t live up to the achievements of others.
We could buy into this thought process, or we could do what Paul suggests in his letter to the Romans. We could break free from the patterns of this world and allow God to renew our minds.
Maybe you’re thinking you already take a lot of time for yourself, that you’re doing fine. However, in my experience, even the people taking time for themselves aren’t taking enough. Before you assume you’re in the clear, look out for these 10 sure signs you need to make more time for yourself.
1. You’re Tired all the Time
Do you find yourself regularly in the middle of a yawn? Do you often come home from work and want for nothing more than to take a nap? Does it become harder and harder to get up to your alarm in the morning?
And while that all sounds like an advertisement for an energy drink, it could actually be a sign that you aren’t making enough time for yourself. By continually putting your needs below the needs of others, you’re draining your tank.
I know, I know. It’s so challenging to make yourself a priority, especially when the people taking up the rest of your time are worth it. But if you’re not taking time to rest and recharge, it’s going to be impossible to serve others.
So, take a nap, read a book, soak in the tub. Relax, refuel, and then you’ll be ready to love others.
2. You’re Easily Irritable
The most sure-fire way that I know that I’m not taking enough time for myself is when I become easily irritable. Things that generally roll right off my back drive me absolutely insane. The tiniest little things are enough to send me over the edge.
When I feel myself getting this way, I’m left with two options: be miserable (and make everyone else miserable) for the rest of the day, or take a half hour and do something for me.
Usually, I’ll go for a run or do some at-home yoga to get a bonus dose of endorphins. But other options include laying on the couch with a book, sneaking to my room to watch an episode on Netflix, or making a solo-run to Target.
By carving out that little bit of time for myself, the rest of the day goes much smoother, and I’m a better wife and mom.
3. You’re Getting Sick More Often
Sickness is a warning sign from our bodies that something is off. Yeah—those pockets full of used toddler tissues might play into your illness, but so does a weak immune system.
If you find yourself under the weather time and time again, check these four areas of your life:
Rest: How much sleep are you getting and how much downtime do you have on an average day? Both are important because they give your body time to heal.
Food: What are you eating? Are you nibbling leftover chicken nuggets and pounding fruit snacks in the pantry when no one’s around? Try adding in some fresh fruit and veggies into your diet.
Water: Drink up the H2O. Yes—I’m aware it doesn’t have any caffeine in it. But water is going to do your body wonders.
Get moving: Take time for yourself to do an activity you love. Go for a walk around the neighborhood, play tennis with a friend, or do some stretches before bed.
4. You Can’t Remember the Last Thing You Did for Yourself
What was the last thing you did for yourself? Not something someone else wanted to do that you didn’t mind participating in. Something you chose to do, just for you. If you’re having trouble finding the answer to that question, you need to make more time for yourself.
This, of course, can be a challenge to squeeze into your already booked schedule. One strategy to take is to block out “me-time” appointments. At the beginning of the week, sit down with your calendar and create hard and fast sections of time that you will use for yourself. Keep that appointment like you would a commitment to anyone or anything else.
Another strategy is to find a daily pocket of time that is just for you. It could be waking up a bit early to get in that much-needed Bible study or taking 10 minutes when you get home to decompress from work before starting any tasks at home.
5. You Constantly Feel Overwhelmed
Have you ever gotten to the point where writing a to-do list leaves you in tears? The list seems to go on and on, and time is only getting shorter. Pretty overwhelming, right?
Now, have you ever lived in that state of overwhelming madness for a whole week? Month? An entire season?
If you’re finding yourself constantly overwhelmed, there’s a strong chance you aren’t making time for yourself. When you’re always going from one task to another, with no time to relax, the stress piles on higher and higher.
I know the last thing you want to be told is to rest, especially when your to-do list is as long as a CVS receipt. However, it’s precisely what you need to do. And while I don’t recommend a 36-hour Netflix binge session, grabbing coffee with a friend or having a date night with your spouse will be like a deep breath for your soul.
6. You’re Always Surrounded by People
Always being surrounded by people is a clear sign for me, an introvert, that I’m going to need some time for myself later. In fact, a lot of time when I commit to plans, it’s only after I pencil in time for myself.
But being always surrounded by others is a sign for anyone, no matter your extroversion or introversion preferences.
Being with other people all the time leaves you at the whim of what they want to do, under the influence of their opinions, and without a lot of time to process your thoughts and feelings from the day.
Please note, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the company of others. But, if you’re actively avoiding spending any time alone, even if only five minutes, there may be a broader issue at hand.
7. You’re Go, Go, Go!
Life is fast-paced. It’s crazy, it’s hectic, and it seems like the world never slows down.
And the truth of the matter is that the world never does slow down. It will keep on sprinting right past you whether or not you rest. So, you’re left with two choices: run as fast as you can while never keeping up with the world around you, or pause, breath deep, and take some time for yourself, knowing full well you can hop right back into the busyness of life.
But how do you rip yourself out of the whirlpool that is life? One strategy I take so I can completely relax is to jot down everything that’s floating around in my mind and then stick that paper somewhere I can’t see it. That way, I don’t have to worry about forgetting what I need to return to, but I can still keep it out of my mind while I take some time for myself.
8. Life isn’t Joyful Anymore
Don’t get me wrong: life isn’t always joyful. There are deadlines at work, health issues with loved ones, and never-ending bills to pay.
But there is a severe problem if you aren’t experiencing joy anymore.
You are hand-crafted by God, and you are treasured by the King of kings. Do you really think the creator of the universe took such excellent care in crafting each individual person to live a life without joy?
And it’s not just a lack of joy you have to be cautious about—it’s all the fruit of the Spirit. So, on days you feel less able to love, like you have no patience, or that your self-control has gone entirely out the window, try taking some time for yourself. Bonus tip: spend some of that “me-time” asking the Spirit to help you in the areas you feel like you’re lacking.
9. You’re Always Connected
In today’s culture, it seems like we’re always connected. Think about it: when was the last time you were more than 10 feet away for your phone? In fact, there’s a strong chance you’re reading this article on your phone right now.
Our phones are a huge blessing for connecting with others, for obtaining information, and for entertainment value. But how often do we let our phone run our lives? Between social media, work emails, and text messages, we’re always ready and available to respond to other people’s needs at the ping of a phone.
When you are making time for yourself, I encourage you to put your phone on silent, keep it in another room, or leave it in your car. I know the idea of not being able to be reached 24/7 seems archaic, but trust me—people managed for hundreds of years. Not only will you survive, but you might find that you love your new-found freedom.
10. You Never Say No
You guys, it’s okay to say no. As a reformed people-pleaser, I struggled with the idea that I had to say yes to everyone and everything. But as I’ve worked my way out of my old tendencies, I’ve realized that saying no is a beautiful thing!
By saying no, you aren’t communicating to the other person they aren’t worthy of your time. You’re just simply saying that you don’t have the time or desire to do that specific request. By managing what you agree to use your time on, you give yourself plenty of time to devote to the tasks you decide to do while freeing up more time for yourself.
If saying no is a challenge for you, I recommend reading Lisa TerKeurst’s The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands. It’s a real game-changer, for chronic yes-givers.