“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a minute, including yourself!”
I was on a walk with my three-year-old nephew when he said to me, “I have to sit down and rest, my bones are getting tired.” I let out a little laugh and said, “Sure buddy we can take a break.” We chatted for a bit [I’m pretty sure about skeletons] as he sat on the sidewalk with his little hands resting on his knees, taking deep breaths as if he had just crossed the finish line of a marathon.
Five minutes passed and he popped up, he had an energetic pep in his step and said, “Ok, I’m good to go!”. He reminded me that day that sometimes, it’s ok to take a break and rest.
However, we live in a society where we are expected to be energizer bunnies all of the time, GO GO GO GO GO!
We are told to:
- Work harder at your job
- Work harder on your relationship with your partner
- Work harder on being a better parent
- Work harder on your relationship with yourself and practicing self-care
- Work harder on losing weight
- Work harder on getting into shape
- Work harder on [Fill in the blank] _______
I 100% believe in hard work. I work very hard in many facets of life. But, in order to accomplish those things, I believe we need to give ourselves permission to take breaks.
We are sometimes told to take breaks…
- School: When you are in grade school, they build in recess, so our little minds get a break, and our little bodies get a break from sitting in our desks.
In college when you are studying for a final, taking small breaks during your study sessions actually helps your brain reset. Sian Beilock, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago, states when performing cognitively demanding tasks, like studying, even short 5-10 breaks allow you to reset and come back more focused and productive.
- Work: The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment requires that employers give their employees a duty-free meal break of 30 minutes if their shift exceeds five consecutive hours, and at least one 10 minute break for each 4 hours of work. A study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health showed frequent, short breaks throughout the work day did not affect a worker’s ability to be productive.
- Exercise: When you are following a workout routine, rest days are scheduled to improve your performance. Lifting weights, distance running and vigorous exercise creates microscopic tears in your muscles. Your body needs to rebuild those fibers to be prepared for the next session. Not giving your body time to recover doesn’t allow these muscle fibers to heal and grow stronger and can lead to depression, fatigue and injury.
- Relationships: Mark Merril, founder of Family First, and many marital counselors suggest when you are in an argument or having conflict with your spouse or partner, you take a break. Not a break from the relationship, but rather a break from the current situation so you can both “cool off” breathe, think about the situation without saying things you regret and return to the conversation later.
- Parenting: Parents are often encouraged to take breaks from their children to be “better” parents. Many articles suggest that taking time away from your children can re-energize you. Taking a break can help your relationship with your partner if you are spending quality time with them without the kids, it can rejuvenate you while you are spending time on yourself and it can even allow you to miss them.
- Self: We are even told to take “mental breaks” in life by practicing self-care and working on ourselves. But have you ever gotten overwhelmed or stressed by trying to research what type of self-care you want and need. You are reading books on self-care, googling self-care on the internet and you’re actually getting exhausted working on you when it’s supposed to be a break.
It’s ok to even take a break from self-care! If you are focusing so much on things you need to do to practice self-care, maybe have a day where you do nothing. That can be self-care in its own right.
In many areas of our lives, our bodies and minds need time for rest and rejuvenation in order to function optimally. But why is taking a break and resting so hard for us? When we do allow ourselves to take breaks and rest we often can be burdened with feelings of:
- Lack of motivation
- Lack of purpose
I am ALL ABOUT working hard. I believe hard work pays off in many ways. But I also have personally experienced the benefits of taking a break from time to time and how it can make you better in many areas of your life.
For most of us, working on something consistently without breaks, whether that is your job, your relationships, training for a race, or even just yourself, you WILL experience burnout. You will start to resent your work, your partner, your children, your exercise and sometimes even yourself.
Our brains and our bodies don’t power down and shut off when we take breaks—they’re hard at work processing and rebuilding to help us keep moving forward in a healthy way. “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a minute, including yourself!”
So why not do it? Don’t feel guilty about it and TAKE A BREAK ALREADY!
Remember, You Got This!