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This week, we took time to reflect on how to know when something in your life is or isn’t working for you. In our weekly “From the Editor’s Desk” column and in our newsletter, we asked Verily readers: “What are the signs in your life that something (like a job, a city, a relationship, or a new routine) isn’t working for you? Or what is your favorite way to take time to check in with yourself (e.g., do you journal, go for a run, talk with a trusted loved one?)?”

Here is a selection of the reflections women shared with us (note: some reflections have been edited for clarity and brevity).


“The signs that something in my life isn’t working for me is that it no longer brings me joy. Genuine joy. It no longer works for me when it fails to contribute to my overall mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well being. I have experienced genuine burnout from a job, a city, a relationship and a routine, and the common thread for me is that all these examples do not contribute to my livelihood any longer. It simply is a sign that the job, city, relationship or routine has been exhausted and has served its purpose for a particular season of my life.”
– Nichelle, Aiea, Hawaii

“I’ve learned to listen to my emotions, and evaluate them to consider where they’re coming from. When I feel mentally tired or empty, or I cry easily, and I know this is a sign that something in my day (or my entire life structure) isn’t right. As a slow thinker, I need time alone to process, or a friend who has the heartspace to let me unwrap whatever isn’t working, then try to put it together again.”
– Madeleine, York, Pennsylvania

“I check in with myself everyday by listening to a meditation on self-love and compassion and allowing what is. In the present when I feel restless, I try breathing exercises, or I get grounded walking barefoot around the house or yard for a while to touch the Earth. I talk with a trusted life coach once a week; she is helping me understand myself better in my in-between space of transformation in my personal and professional life.”
– Lisa, Fair Oaks, California

“My favorite way to check in with myself is in prayer. Sitting in church in the presence of God, my thoughts still and move away from the business of life and the immediate things that require my attention, to the deeper problems and questions that are more buried. Then God helps me to think through these and find joy and peace through solving them.”
– Sophia, San Gabriel, California

“A feeling of discontentment, unease, anxiety... my mind constantly racing... not having any moments to pause and take deep breaths... these are signs that life is too much right now and that I need to make changes. My ‘fix’ for that is prayer, exercise, quiet time BY MYSELF, and time spent outdoors—sunny walks or hikes in the woods. Sometimes my brain needs an hour to rest and be quiet, with no stimulus, away from my wonderful husband and kids.”
– Lauren, Gainesville, Virginia

“Without fail, a sign that ‘something’ isn’t working for me is the nagging, increasing tension in my neck, and with it, a feeling that my world is constricting. ‘Growth or fear?’ an old mentor used to ask me. We all make our decisions rooted in one mindset or the other. Another phrasing of the same concepts is, ‘Fear or faith?’ Or, ‘Love or hate?’ Or, ‘Trust or control?’ ‘Something’ isn't working when I’m doing it to control outcomes. ‘Something’ isn’t working when I’m choosing it out of fear. ‘Something’ isn’t working when I’m unwilling to be vulnerable. And I know it isn’t working because my body and spirit tell me, even if my brain argues it’s for the best or I need it or... Signs that ‘it ain’t working’ are that it doesn’t work.”
– C.J., Boston, Massachusetts

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