6 Ways to Take a Break

I’ve been taking time off recently to recharge.

After an intense and busy time crowdfunding and giving talks and workshops at the Happiness and Its Causes Conference, I’m more conscious than ever about the need to stop and relax.

When I speak to friends or clients, I find there’s several sentences that go through people’s heads, that are barriers to them stopping to take a break.

Some common ones I’ve heard are:

“I can’t afford to take time off. I have too much work to do.”

“Taking time off makes me feel guilty.”

“I don’t deserve a break.”

“Taking a break and doing nothing won’t help anyone.”

If these statements sound familiar to you, read on for tips to overcome these challenges.

Overcoming the Time and Guilt Barriers

Life is not about managing time. It’s about managing priorities.

One of these priorities needs to be time for you to recharge.

Breaks are more than just time off to relax. They give you space away from your responsibilities.

Breaks are essential, not optional.

What use are you to the world if you’re burnt out?

Just like your phone needs recharging every now and then or the battery dies, you need to recharge yourself, or your body and mind will run out of charge.

If you still feel guilty taking time off, meet that feeling of guilt with awareness and kindness. But still do take a break. Know that the time you take off is going to help you to better serve those around you in the long run.

With time, the guilt will reduce. It may increase initially, but if you’re kind to it, it’ll soon calm down.

Breaks Boost Your Productivity

The main benefit of breaks are they actually increase your efficiency. You get more things done, you get them done quicker, and with less mistakes.

Very successful major organisations like Google and Dell have rooms or quiet areas where phones don’t work so you can fully rest. They know it makes their staff more productive, not less.

There’s nothing to feel guilty about if you remember that.

Here’s some ways to integrate breaks into your life.

If you’re tired all the time, please read these carefully and choose at least one of them to implement in your life.

Six Ways to Take a Break

I’ve broken down how you can integrate breaks into your life.

1. Moment to Moment: The 10 Second Kindful Break

In any one moment, can you let go of your stresses and have a micro-break in just 10 seconds.

Here’s some ways:

  • Deep inbreath and full, slow out breath with a smile.
  • Look around you for any living being - a plant, animal or human being. Then think: ‘May you be peaceful and happy. May I be peaceful and happy.’
  • Simply turn your attention inwards from time to time and send awareness and kindness to your body and mind. This relaxes bodily tension and helps you step back from your thoughts.

2. Daily: Your regular routine

I love to start the day with meditation. My friend likes to start with yoga. Another friend likes to start with swimming in a mindful way.

Everyone benefits from daily ‘me-time’. It’s such a wonderful habit - a powerful way to rejuvenate your whole being.

Find what works for you. And if you’re not sure, try starting with a few minutes of guided meditation.

Naps are also a powerful way to recharge. Some research shows naps improve emotional regulation, reaction time and ability to overcome frustration.

3. Weekly: The Weekend is Your Friend

Weekend doesn’t necessarily mean Saturday and Sunday. You may have a different working pattern. I often take a day off during the weekday as I run my own organisations.

But whatever the weekend means to you, it’s there for a reason. To rest, recharge and renew.

For me, it’s important to switch off my phone and go for a walk. To do some extended meditation practice. To spend time talking to friends and family.

How about you? How can you disconnect from your daily responsibilities for a day...half a day...or even just an hour or two?

4. Monthly: “Re-Treat” Yourself

On a monthly basis, consider a day of mindfulness and kindness. A day when you completely switch off and gift yourself the pleasure of being present to this unique experience we call life.

Alternatively, you could leave your city and spend a full day in nature. Or maybe spend a day doing a fun course like massage or flower arranging.  Or perhaps just spend the whole day in bed - a duvet day!

Whatever you choose, ensure it’s a treat for you. And an experience that’s relaxing, that encourages present moment awareness.

5. Yearly: The Annual Reset

Every year for the past few years, I’ve taken at least 10 days off on a silent retreat. Sometimes more, sometimes less.

What does it mean for you to take a break on an annual basis? If not a silent retreat, how about a week hiking in the mountains? Or maybe a short pilgrimage.

Even a week or more at home can be a break, if you can be disciplined enough to clear all your responsibilities, switch off your phone and computer and spend every day in a restful way.

6. Decadely: The Gap Year

I’ve never done this personally, but think it’s a great idea!

I love the concept of taking a full year off every 10 years. Even 3 months or 6 months is a great length of time to completely switch off.

I know in some companies they offer sabbaticals for people who’ve worked there for some time, so it’s part of the culture.

Gap years are common for young people, but why not for full-blown adults too.

Certainly much trickier to organise, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Hmmm, this has got me thinking…. :)

Conclusion

Taking regular breaks can help prevent burnout.

There are many ways to take a break by being mindful and kind in this moment, to taking many months off to completely recharge.

Ultimately, breaks are about the art of letting go. Letting go of control, responsibility and thoughts about past and future.

The more you meditate under the guidance of the right teacher, the better you become at letting go.

How To Stop Thinking [Infographic]

How To Stop Thinking [Infographic]

I discovered how to completely quieten my mind at the beginning of this year. Something that I didn’t think was even possible! And I want to share that story with you.

The breakthrough happened whilst I was lying in bed with so little energy, I couldn’t do my usual routine. I was tired. I just couldn't push myself to work anymore. Two weeks of low energy, feeling lathargic and lacking in motivation. It was frustrating.

Read More

Feeling Shitty? Here's Some Advice

I've felt quite tired in the last two days.

Not quite feeling shit, but certainly tired.

I've had my instant messaging switched off. 

I've cancelled my meetings.

And I’ve made time to stop and do nothing! 

Some of those moments of doing nothing (or meditating) have been blissful, and some of them have been filled with thoughts. 

It's easy for me to just keep pushing myself and I’m so grateful for my knowledge of mindfulness and meditation that remind me of the value of stopping.

Step Back and Look At Your Last Month

When I stopped and looked at my schedule for the last month, I realised why I’m tired!

I’ve travelled across many time zones, driven for hours, had hundreds of meetings and phone calls, organised events, attended workshops, completed a crowdfunder and send hundreds if not thousands of messages. I had the insight of opening the door of my heart to my feelings of tiredness - and it felt so peaceful and re-energising! 

What’s your schedule been like in the last month? Maybe you’ve been very busy too. Or maybe your mind has been very busy - that’s even more tiring.

Are you ‘Shoulding’?

In my moments of thinking, I noticed many ‘shoulds’ in my mind. 

I should have that meeting.
I should be better at meditation.
I should have made my presentations by now.
I should transfer that money.
I should be more organised.
I should eat more vegetables.
I should exercise everyday.
I should be talking to more people.
I should create and launch that new program.

I should, I should, I should!

Then I had an insight.

Why should I?!

What’s wrong with not getting my work done? There’s always tomorrow. 

What’s wrong with rubbish meditating? There’s no such thing as a bad meditation anyway. 

What’s wrong with being unhealthy or tired? Life is impermanent, and all feelings pass.

I can enjoy being whatever I want to be in each moment!  

And so can YOU!

What to do if you’re feeling shit 


“Just like the lotus, we too have the ability to rise up from the mud, bloom out of the darkness and radiate into the world”


So, yucky, dirty mud is transformed into a beautiful lotus. How miraculous is that?

You too can transform the shit of your life into beautiful flowers.

You just need to embrace and make good use of the shit rather than avoid the shit.

What’s the shit in your life?

Your feelings of sadness and depression? Tiredness and loneliness? Fear and anxiety? A death in the family? Ran out of money? Lost your job? An injury or operation gone wrong?

Start there! This is juicy shit! This has the power to be the mud from which lotus flowers grow in your mind! 

In my experience, those people who have gone through the most suffering and discovered how to transform that suffering, are the kindest and wisest of human beings.

That can be you. Or maybe that already is you!

A practical exercise

If you’re struggling to turn the shit of your life into beautiful flowers, try this exercise: 

  1. Grab a piece of paper and write all the shitty things that have happened or are happening in your life.

  2. Tear the paper into tiny pieces. Not in an angry way, but in a calm way, as if you’re transforming one thing into another. Be present with your difficulties and know you are in the process of transforming them.

  3. Dig the paper it into your garden or put it into your compost heap.

  4. Use the compost and plant some seeds of your choice! 

Before long, you’ll be able to enjoy delicious tomatoes or admire a scented rose. You shall reap whatever you sow.

Conclusion

Open the door of your heart to your difficulties. 

Have the courage to allow the feelings to enter your being. 

Breathe them in and out. 

Relax into them.

I guarantee you, if you’re patient, they will transform into the most beautiful flowers in your beautiful mind. 

And if you are to believe the greatest teachers from wisdom traditions, within you, you have a very beautiful and luminous mind, waiting to meet you.

Just be aware and be kind.