“If we want to live a wholehearted life, we have to become intentional about cultivating rest and play, and we must work to let go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth.”
“I’m so exhausted and stressed out!” Is that a cry for help or a badge of honor?
Sadly, we live in a culture that not only normalizes burnout as a way of life but also kinda glorifies it. If you are perpetually busy and exhausted—You. Must. Be. Important!
But at what cost?
Maybe we need to worry more about being healthy people.
Ah, but insights like that usually only come to us when we slow down, find some quiet, and get alone with ourselves. Alone. Solitude. Introspection. “Sorry, ain’t got time for that!” (I think a lot of people intentionally stay busy because they don’t want to have to think about life and look at themselves.) Make time. Being alone is a healthy skill to be cultivated. Being alone is when some cool stuff happens: Inspiration. Reflection. Insight. Wonder. Clarity. Rest and Restoration. Whatever ambition has you so busy chasing, you’re going to need all this stuff along the way. Plus, the people you care about need you to care about you and take care of you.
Here are five signs you need some alone time, stat!
1. Your body is trying to get your attention.
Do you wake up and not feel rested and rejuvenated? Does your body “hit a wall” during the day that sends you to the coffee-maker? Do you catch every cold and flu bug that’s going around? Do you collapse into bed like you just finished a marathon?
Your body might be trying to get your attention. It’s trying to tell you that your batteries are low and need recharging. Some time alone doing something restful and reenergizing might be just the ticket. Make sure it’s something you genuinely find soothing and medicinal—not work-related and stress-inducing.
2. Little things just wreck you.
Things you normally would take in stride or wouldn’t bother you at all now get an exaggerated response from you. It could be a short delay, a slight change of plans, an annoying freeway driver, or someone’s tone of voice, and you’re fuming or crumbling. You know that’s not you.
You’re fragile. You’ve become so busy and stressed you don’t have the margin or emotional resources left to handle life’s little annoyances. Alone-time is anti-fragile time. It strengthens you on the inside. Getting alone in a meaningful, healthy way can give you the focus to regain some perspective, as well as the fortitude to handle bumps along the way.
3. The people in your life are dropping hints…
Learn to put the clues together. That look on your spouse’s face means you snapped at them. That eye-roll from your kid means, “What’s. Up. With. You?”
Your friend or co-worker asking, “Are you okay?” or “How have you been lately?” means “Someone has their Cranky Pants on today!”
Sometimes we are the last person to recognize how we’ve changed and are not acting like ourselves. Learn to pick up on the hints before the hints become arguments, outbursts, or resentment. You don’t want to hurt the people you love even a little bit, but when you’re tired and stressed out, or feeling frustrated and overwhelmed, you tend to take it out on the people closest to you. We all do.
Don’t be afraid to tell the people in your life you need a little alone time. It’s mature and self-aware to say, “Sorry I’ve been a little extra lately. I need to go for a walk and clear my head.” Go to a movie by yourself or send yourself to your room and watch one. Take a book to a coffee shop. Go for that run. Reassure the family that it’s not them, it’s you. (They know.)
4. You’re bored, not interested in anything, and just feel… blah.
You’ve been rushing through your hectic schedule so fast for so long, you don’t remember what to do with some downtime. You’re so burned out, you just don’t feel like doing anything—even the things you normally enjoy. You are listless and lethargic. You aren’t up or down—you’re just there.
Sometimes you need some unproductive, unfocused vegging out alone time. Grab your favorite snack and watch some reruns of your favorite show. Go to a park or out on your deck and just sit. Soak up some sun. To the untrained eye, you look like you’re doing nothing, and that’s exactly what you need. This afternoon’s plan is not to have plans. Feel what it feels like to have no deadlines and no demands on your time. Give yourself permission to clock out for a little while. Feel that? Feels good. (If you feel “blah” for weeks at a time, that’s not good. Get that checked out.)
5. Sometimes, you just know.
Sometimes you do. Listen to that little voice. Quit ignoring it. Stop thinking you don’t really need some alone time or don’t deserve it or it’s a sign of weakness or that you will disappoint someone if you take it. The world won’t stop spinning if you don’t get to everything on your to-do list. Give yourself a break. The reality is, alone time helps bring clarity, creativity, and energy to every part of your life. Your life-goals won’t suffer if you take some time for you; your life-goals will suffer if you don’t.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/anastasiia-chepinska-mB__zsotOqY-unsplash-scaled-e1600395141630.jpg231600John Daumhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJohn Daum2020-09-17 22:12:452021-11-23 09:42:405 Signs You Need Some Alone Time
I’m a black man who interacts with lots of different people in many different environments. As such, the racial unrest has made me a prime target for conversations about the African American experience. Two of my colleagues and I (Gena, a black female, and Chris, a white male) recorded one such conversation recently. You can listen to it here. I’m learning firsthand the amount of progress our country needs to make to overcome racial disparity.
I’m convinced more than ever that building relationships must be at or near the very top of those priorities. Through my conversations about racial differences with Chris and several others, here’s what I’ve learned.
1. The lack of awareness and disbelief of many has been surprising.
The black experience in America is extremely difficult to comprehend. The trepidation of an encounter with the police. The thoughts which flood my mind anytime I drive past a Confederate flag. The feelings we experience so often when we enter an environment as the only black person or family present. Being able to relate to the mentality of the black experience is hard. In many of my conversations, I’m realizing how oblivious to it my white friends are.
2. The conversations about racial differences definitely can create a level of discomfort.
At times, I can see or hear the natural urge which Chris and others have had to want to deny my experiences, explain it away, justify the actions of themselves or others, or not accept that the culture created in America could produce such oppression. Some things are flat out hard to hear. Whether it’s social norms, housing policies, or law enforcement, to know that you have willingly or unwillingly participated in oppressing others is a difficult pill to swallow. Resisting the urge to be defensive and prove the opposite is not easy.
3. Relationship strength has made conversations productive.
It was definitely eye-opening to Chris that someone with whom he has had hundreds of conversations and someone that he respects lives such a different reality. We can discuss these realities of being the minority and thinking differently about safety and opportunity because of the high level of trust that we have for one another.
4. There are people who genuinely want to fix the problems but feel frustrated and powerless.
Chris and I have talked about what he can do. That question consistently comes up from my white friends. How can we fix this? I appreciate the desire. I’m not sure if we, as a country or as individuals are willing to put in the long, diligent, hard work that it takes to recalibrate our country on these matters. Everyone is looking for answers.
Before we can truly find answers, it’s important that we understand the root of the problem and its compounding impact. (And if you’re expecting me to state the root of the problem here, then you’re missing the point that there’s long, diligent, hard work needed to recalibrate the country.) Although I will say, I believeat every step along the way, it’s important for my friends to feel encouraged and empoweredto call out both blatant and subtle racism in their homes, workplace, and community.
5. My own testing mechanisms for gauging one’s willingness to engage in dialogue.
I believe that Chris and many others truly genuinely desire to learn, understand, and value the challenges blacks have faced. I’ve recognized that being genuine and open and willing to work to be a part of the solution can be two different things. Lots of people are interested in being a “good” person that treats people the “right” way. Being open and willing to understand how you may be falling short of that is another matter altogether. When I trust that you’re open and willing, I become more willing to share the depths of my own experiences.
6. I have mixed emotions about the sudden interest to have these conversations about racial differences.
Disappointment and Frustration that it’s taken a series of blatant events and a quarantined environment to open the country’s mind to many of the poignant realities of the African American experience. That, in itself, is disappointing and frustrating.
Thankful for the humble and honest engagement that Chris and others within my work and social circle have been willing to participate in.
Skeptical. Turning a huge ship like systemic racism requires sacrifice, change, and urgency, a patient urgency. Those that reap the biggest benefits of the current system must be willing to give up some of those benefits. I’m skeptical because I believe that the cost for true equality is greater than some are willing to pay.
Proud of the effort my parents worked so hard to instill in me to ensure that I knew my value as a human being, as their son, and as a black man. Given that my father was arrested during the Civil Rights movement in the 60s for protesting and that my mother has achieved the title of “First Black Woman to…” for several of her professional and civic accomplishments gives me a sense of pride for what’s possible for a black man in America.
I walked away from my conversation with Chris more convinced that these conversations must happen. They do help me to remain aware of the progress that needs to be made for true equality. They also illuminate the need to help our white friends comprehend the gravity of what’s at stake as a country if we aren’t willing to do the hard work to push for equal value for all.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/happy-young-multiracial-couple-taking-on-sofa-at-home-4049517-1-scaled-e1596215163817.jpg206500Reggie Madisonhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngReggie Madison2020-06-18 09:35:042020-08-20 16:25:15What I’ve Learned From People Wanting to Have Open Conversations with Me About Racial Differences
Good friends can help you be a better version of yourself.
Can valuable relationships make you a better person? We’ve all heard someone’s “value” calculated as their Net Worth, but what about cultivating the value of your Network? I’m talking about your true friends, accountability partners, and mentors. People that know your goals and will help you achieve them.
Those valuable relationships don’t happen by accident. We have to be open to them. We have to be intentional. We have to invest. Often, when I need those kinds of people in my life the most, my instinct is to go into hiding. I run the opposite way.
I find ways to build taller fences, not longer tables.
This isn’t where I point out that according to recent research, Americans report being more lonely than ever – but they do.
This isn’t where I point out that social media Friends, Followers, Shares, Likes, and Upvotes aren’t the true measure of your Social Capital – but they aren’t.
I’m not even going to say that old-fashioned, healthy, Rugged American Individualism has often changed us into unhealthy, Radical American Individualists – but it has.
I’m just going to quote something my father drilled into me: “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” He was onto something.
It’s easy to surround yourself with people that always agree with you or always take your side. I get it. I do it. That can feel good. It also feels good to have people in your life that you can have fun with and be yourself. But who in your life is helping you be the best version of yourself?
Who is truly helping you be the best spouse or partner, the best parent, the best person that you can be? Who in your life has permission and is willing to confront you and say the hard things? (You know, those things that sting a day or two, but you know they’re true.)
Community, true Social Capital, is more important than ever:
I never once got a job solely based on an application. It always involved someone I knew and built a connection with before I even knew a new job was even a possibility.
My wife taught me the value of finding married couples deeper into the season of life we were in or heading toward and risking getting real with them.
The best thing we did as parents was to connect with other parents for coffee or dessert just to talk about parenting stuff – especially parents with kids heading out of the stages that our kids were heading into.
I’ve never regretted cultivating relationships- real friendships- with a couple of guys that I could be honest and transparent with, knowing that in return they would ask me the tough questions about the kind of husband, father, and man I am.
These kinds of people and couples and parents that become valuable relationships can be difficult to find. Maybe the best way to find them is to first work at being that kind of person for other people.
I could not begin to tell you my Net Worth. It probably isn’t much. I’m positive it isn’t much. My Network though – priceless. Where are you investing?
Looking for more resources for healthy relationships? Click here!
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/anna-earl-nyzQaDOtpzw-unsplash-scaled-e1597073401505.jpg158450John Daumhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJohn Daum2020-02-17 11:07:422022-05-19 08:56:25Valuable Relationships Make You a Better Person
College was a good time for me, but something happened when college wasn’t the center of my life anymore: It was like I woke up and didn’t know who I was. Change is hard, and I almost lost myself trying to adjust to my new situation in some unhealthy ways. Do you ever feel like you have lost your identity?
Author Anne-Marie Alger defines “identity” as “a group of attributes, qualities and values that define how we view ourselves, and how others may also view us.” Identity involves the labels we place on ourselves, the activities we do or even the places we work. But what happens when we let those labels take over our whole lives? We get consumed by one attribute or quality, and then we begin to lose the rest of ourselves. What happens if we are stripped of that one quality or attribute that we strongly identified ourselves with? A guest on Oprah’s podcast Food For Thought said it this way: “We lose ourselves because we are betraying ourselves in some way.” Now that’s food for thought!
For my entire life, people have viewed me as upbeat and very social.
But then adulthood hit me after college graduation and I was not ready. I’ve always had people around me, but I wasn’t nearly as social the last semester of school and after graduation because “adulting” required me to be alone more. And it made me feel like I had lost my identity.
Seeing less people and having fewer social interactions caused my moods to change and I was not the upbeat and social Akeyla that everyone knew. My friends and I had to work, so our relationships felt like they were changing in a negative way. We were too busy to connect with each other. I noticed I was changing, and my energy was so different. I felt depressed because my social life wasn’t as full as it had been. And I began to hate that my social life dictated my feelings and mood.
Recently, something hit me while I was teaching at a summer camp. I began to realize that I had let my social life become my identity. This realization helped to change my perspective and as a result, my relationships with my friends and family began to improve. Moving into adulthood, I now know can have faith and confidence in myself, my talents and my abilities.
Here are some tips to remember when you feel like you’ve lost your identity:
The most important relationship you have is with yourself! Knowing who you are will make it easier to seek help if you begin to lose yourself.
Remember to invest in yourself. Alone time can be the best time!
You don’t have to build your life around socializing, but there are lots of ways to keep in touch with your friends. The older I get, the more I realize that people are just busy. We can’t be around each other 24/7 but we can still keep in touch.
Stay connected with your family. They are your biggest supporters. And guess what? They know you the best! They will probably notice any changes before you do. For example, my Nana noticed the changes in me first.
Change isn’t necessarily a bad thing, so get used to it. Find healthy ways to deal with it since it will be happening for the rest of your life!
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/xavier-sotomayor-192007-unsplash-scaled.jpg13672048First Things Firsthttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngFirst Things First2018-07-31 15:21:472020-10-29 10:11:385 Tips for Those Who Have Lost Their Identity