The Benefits of Taking a Break

I took a small break over the holidays. I’ve never been good at resting because it makes me feel like a slacker. It’s much easier to calm my body than my mind. My mind spins 687 miles an hour thinking of all the things I could do when I’m trying to relax.

That break was very good for me. I tried to take a few more naps and edit a few fewer blog posts. I scrolled less and read more. I would say that I slept more- that was my initial goal- but I didn’t because I started reading Harry Potter.
I read books 4-7 during a Friday-Sunday time span. They aren’t small books and I try not to read when the boys are up unless they are watching George and eating their bedtime snack. Therefore I stayed up too late reading but they were worth it. (And for a review, I didn’t think there was more magic in them than there is in Disney movies; I thoroughly enjoyed them. In fact, they are probably some of the best books I’ve ever read.)
Reading to me is a break. Reading might not be a break to you. What is? And how can you fit some of it in on purpose? (And not just because you are sick; that doesn’t count at all!)
break image
1. What can you stop doing? Now I can’t stop cooking dinner or washing clothes or bathing children. Those are necessities. Those people who say mothering is a 24/7 job aren’t kidding. But I could post on the blog once instead of twice. I could take a break from my daily writing/art work. I could not stress about checking off all my list. And I did all those things.
2. What do you need to finish? I did use that time to finish Make Time for Learning- the free resource my newsletter subscribers receive. Not needing to do all the normal work gave me plenty of time to work on it instead of stressing out squeezing it in somewhere.
3. What do you enjoy? I enjoy reading. And my picking up the first Harry Potter book the week before I started my break was- I would say coincidence but I don’t really believe in that. I would have had a harder time breaking without the books to read.
4. When can you schedule the break? The holidays were a perfect time because everyone was breaking. It didn’t matter if I posted less to the blog. I knew what I had accomplished all year working hard writing and drawing so I didn’t feel bad taking the break from those things. You have to find a time that fits with your schedule and work.
I’ve come out of the break slowly. It’s been a tad bit difficult to ease back into a routine but I expected that. Habits die hard. But I’ve been doing the work and the ideas have been flowing again. I’ve been writing down ideas for blog posts and podcast episodes and newsletter volumes. I’ve come up with lists of possible art projects and family outings.
What was most remarkable to me about the break was the reminder of how much I enjoy this work I do. Sometimes when you have your checklist of what has to happen to get the podcast produced and the posts published and the kindergarten done and dinner cooked it all seems like work. You start to miss the joy and the purpose. But when you stop for a break you start to remember what you love about writing, blogging, podcasting, cooking, having a family.
That helps me step into 2016 not feeling driven or harried but thankful. I can embrace my creative and family routines with gladness because I get to do them- not because I have to. And that makes such a difference.
How about you? Do you choose times of intentional rest? I’m already thinking about when I will schedule a few blocks of time this year!