For each area there's a simple list of symptoms, what the 'red zone' might look like, to which you can add a few of your own: everyone has their own symptoms for what happens when they get overtired, or shut off emotionally.
- stress targets a particular part of your body (migraines, back etc.)
- you become ill at the start of your holiday
- you take little exercise
- irregular sleep
- you don't have time to pay attention to feelings.
- more vulnerable to escapist sin (this is a way of subduing emotional needs by distracting yourself - pornography, alcohol, addictive behaviour etc.)
- you become dispassionate about the plight of suffering people
- relationships become superficial
- you don't have time for friendships
- You spend more time with other people than with your partner
- you are always apologising to your children for not being there.
- you say to yourself it will get better in a few months, but it never does.
- prayer is reduced to cries for help
- worship is reduced to thanksgiving
- you begin to rationalise misbehaviour and sin
I use this roughly every 6-8 weeks, and its a good check on energy levels. There have been times when 3-4 of these were in the red zone, and guess what? I ended up with depression.
The list is deliberately simple, and doesn't spell out what you need to do to recover spiritual, mental, relational or emotional energy and health. After all, all the best warning signs are simple ones.
For more in this series, follow the 'review questions' label below.