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…. :)
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.