A mind racing with to-do lists blocks my ability to focus. It’s hard for me to be present, I forget important information, and I can’t recall names of people easily. This is a sign that it’s time to take a break.
Proverbs 16:3 tells us, “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” If I’m honest, I do not commit my work to the Lord often enough. I put on my agenda tasks that I think I need to get done instead of tasks that the Lord has laid on my heart to do.
To help with this I sometimes do a simple exercise in the morning of praying over each part of my day. This helps me to recognize what needs to get done versus what I want to get done. It also helps me to anticipate inevitable interruptions so that I do not become agitated by them as easily.
Another sign that tells me I need to step back and take a break is irritability. When I feel agitated in traffic, defensive on social media, or impatient with my kids I know that I need to make some changes. Once a counselor told me that these seemingly minor irritations are misdirected coping mechanisms. For example, in my road rage, I take my anger out on strangers with whom I can get away with it (They’re in their car, and I’m in mine, so there are no repercussions.) because it’s not productive to take my anger out on my calendar and it’s more complicated to take it out on someone in my life or address it with someone I’m actually angry with.
When I catch myself in these bouts of irritability, my first response is to be quiet. It’s when I start talking that the circumstance gets worse. “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back” (Proverbs 29:11). Often times all I need is 15 minutes to be alone. This can be just sitting or sitting and reading. However, it doesn’t include scrolling on my phone. That creates more irritability. When I build small rest times like this into my day, irritability subsides.
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