Taking breaks

This blog post on taking breaks was inspired by feeling stuck writing a blog post! 

Taking a Break

Last week, I sat at my computer to write a blog post.  A few topics came to mind, but none of my ideas developed further.  It is important to note, that it was Friday and I really wanted to be done with my work week!  I was tired.  I had traveled across the country, I had a busier-than-normal work schedule, and I was adjusting to a new time zone.  Also, I had a very hectic weekend ahead of me!  I wanted the blog to be done!

Finally, after starting three separate blog posts to no avail, I stopped forcing it and took a deep breath.  Then, I checked in with myself.   I recognized that I was feeling burned out and that I needed to take a break.  As a result of this short break, I asked for what I needed – a break from writing the blog. 

*Note that we did not have a new blog post last week.

I’m grateful I took the time to check-in. Furthermore, I'm grateful for the support I received after I asked for what I needed.

I’m sure you can think of a time when you felt stuck, overwhelmed, or in need of a break.  Let’s look at signs that we need a break and then the benefits of taking one!

Signs we need a break -

Some signs that we need a break are: having trouble focusing, irritability, feeling overwhelmed, repetition, snapping, and exhaustion.  I bet you could add a few indicators to the list!

Why taking breaks can be important -

We all struggle to take breaks.  Sometimes we want to push through to get done (like I did) or some of us feel guilty or like we are letting someone down.  But, there are real benefits to taking breaks!

First, taking a break can help us get unstuck!  Before, it can feel like our brain is hitting a wall.  Taking a break can help our brain recenter and look at things differently. 

Relatedly, research shows that breaks open the doors to creativity.  Have you ever had the experience of walking away from a problem you can’t solve only to come up with a creative solution when you are doing something else? This is because the brain needs downtime to keep the creative juices flowing!

Additionally, breaks help us to check in with our needs.  I would not have been able to advocate for what I needed if, I had not taken the time to figure it out.  I would have likely continued to try to write a blog — and there is no doubt in my mind that would not have gone well!

Lastly, taking breaks can help us to emotionally regulate ourselves.  While we are checking in with ourselves we can ask what emotions are coming up and find ways to attend to them.  Check out our burnout blog for more ideas on how to work through emotions as they come up.

Additional thoughts on taking breaks -

Sometimes, it is hard to recognize when we need one.  If this is the case for you, schedule some breaks and be intentional to use that time to check in with yourself! 

This blog focused on a much shorter break, but we need longer breaks too!  Make sure to take the time to schedule a weekend getaway, vacations, and other much-needed breaks in your lives!

Lastly, find good friends and support systems that help you to prioritize breaks.  When I’m looking for a job, a major red flag is when they have offered very limited time off.  Relatedly, another red flag is if they don’t have appropriate structures in place for people to take time off.

We’re psychotherapists in Weschester, NY. 

Visit our homepage at: www.couragepsych.com