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5 Tips to Take a Step Back and Give Yourself Some Space

by Ali

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We live in a world that wants solutions and answers yesterday. The pressure to perform and produce is escalating. Sometimes it feels like we are all trapped on a conveyor belt that’s moving too quickly to jump off. And so we continue without a moment to reflect or process. 

It’s difficult to say “no,” but when we manage to step away from something that may be a source of stress or tangled thoughts, we give ourselves the space to find clarity of mind and assess whether we are heading in the right direction. Stepping back allows us to tweak our navigational coordinates to ensure we move in a positive direction. 

This article will explore what it means to step back and the benefits of such. We will then discuss 5 ways to help you learn to step back. 

What does it mean to take a step back?

When we take a step back from something, we intentionally remove ourselves from being actively involved to allow us space to reflect. 

Often we take a step back when we are experiencing discontent with how something is progressing. This may be a relationship or a personal project. It may even be stepping back from reading an intense book, allowing us to digest the contents before we persevere with the rest fully. 

Taking a step back is that all-important pause. We know the importance of pausing before responding to triggering conversations. This pause allows us to gather our thoughts and respond with reason and logic instead of being ruled by our emotions. 

When we take a step back, we are gifting ourselves the opportunity to gather our thoughts and process our emotions without risking us reacting to situations around us instead of responding. 

What are the benefits of stepping back?

Taking a step back is very similar to taking a pause. An interesting study looked into the benefit of using a pause on healthcare providers in a highly stressful medical environment.

They found that the participants allocated to the group with the pause had lower stress-related reactivity, greater heart rate variability, and enhanced resilience. 

Interpreting these results, stepping back allows us time to think and process information to facilitate optimum decision-making. Taking a step back also removes any sense of pressure, which may help us feel more in control and less likely to be influenced by external factors. 

Stepping back from something allows us to truly assess the situation and develop solutions, decisions, or a renewed approach that better fits our thought process. 

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5 ways to take a step back

It can be challenging to permit yourself to take a step back. Not only that but sometimes we don’t even realize when we would benefit from stepping back. 

Here are our top 5 tips to help you take a step back.

1. Learn to prioritize  

These days there are expectations to prioritize everything in our lives, meaning nothing is a priority in reality. When you truly learn to prioritize, discern where the non-negotiables are and what areas you may need to reconsider. 

It could be that you are spending far too much time doing something that isn’t a true priority. 

Take some time to figure out your priorities and non-negotiables. From here, can you take a step back from anything to give your priorities more time and attention? 

After spending five years founding and growing a successful running club, I stood down as chairperson and took a step back to give myself time to reflect on what I wanted from that area of my life. It allowed the club the benefit of new leadership to galvanize momentum and energy. And it allowed me to redirect my focus and attention to other areas that brought me joy. 

2. Follow your energy 

If something that once brought you great joy and excitement now feels like a burden or a chore, it’s time to listen. It might be a hobby or even a relationship. It could be your employment or a passion project. 

There is no need to make any hasty decisions, but this change in energy is a good indication that you need some thinking time. Initiate the process of taking a step back. Can you take a few days away from work if your employment is the problem? If a relationship is the source of energy change, you may want to have a few weeks without seeing the other person for a week or so to give you thinking space in a relationship. 

Our body always tries to tell us something, and our internal vibrations don’t lie. 

3. Listen to your resentment 

I’m one of those people who invests enormous energy into people and passions. This energy giveaway can lead me to be taken advantage of as my enthusiasm makes me a “yes” person. But as time passes, if I find myself saying “yes” to things without any reciprocity, acknowledgment, or gratitude, I feel my resentment build. 

Resentment occurs when we feel another has wronged us. It can leave us bitter and angry, and that’s not a pleasant state to be in. 

If you are feeling resentful toward somebody, this is a strong indication you may need to take a step back. Taking the time to figure out the reasons for the resentment will help you consider if you need to erect boundaries, learn to say “no,” or remove yourself from some situations entirely. 

4. Communicate openly and honestly 

If you have identified that you need to take a step back in a specific area of your life, please be open and honest about this. 

Don’t just ghost someone or not turn up to something where others are expecting you. 

The more open and honest you are with other people around you, the easier you will find the transition of either returning from your step back or moving on in a different direction. 

You don’t have to lay all your cards on the table, but it’s fair and respectful to others to express that you are experiencing confusing thoughts and a change in position, and you need time to decipher it all. 

5. Be true to yourself 

I won’t lie; it’s hard to take a step back. It can feel like we are letting other people down and feeling like we are being fickle or flakey. But remember, nothing lasts forever. The tides change, and you are perfectly entitled to change your mind. 

Part of growing and developing is learning to be true to yourself. Recognizing how to live as authentic a life as possible and what energy and environments you thrive in. If you find yourself in a hostile or claustrophobic situation, staying in this situation is not being kind to yourself or honoring yourself. 

I wish you the courage to be true to yourself and recognize when to step back from someone or something. 

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Wrapping up 

Taking a step back from people or situations is a challenging task. But you will find greater happiness if you discern when this action benefits your well-being. 

Don’t forget our top five tips for how to take a step back: 

  • Learn to prioritize. 
  • Follow your energy. 
  • Listen to your resentment. 
  • Communicate openly and honestly. 
  • Be true to yourself. 

What do you do when you need to take a step back? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Ali Hall AuthorLinkedIn Logo

Kindness is my superpower. Dogs and nature are my oxygen. Psychology with Sports science graduate. Scottish born and bred. I’ve worked and traveled all over the world. Find me running long distances on the hills and trails.

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