The Importance of Taking a Break
by Regine Marie S.J. Sales
Everyone has their own set of goals that they want to achieve. We often look at all of our tasks, resolutions, and aspirations and think of how to get them done as soon as humanely possible, as if at every moment, we obsess over how little time we have left. Productivity is all about being time-efficient and being intentional with our hours, not just wasting away on the couch as we mindlessly scroll through social media for the umpteenth time today. Sure, productivity is rewarding, but it seems we’ve come to the point where most think it’s promising to work for hours on end– should it mean that we have no choice but to engage in these unhealthy habits?
My friends have known me for being a hard worker all throughout my college life, so it’s become normal for them to be constantly reminding me to “chill” and take it slow once in a while. Though sometimes excessive, I have always pressured myself into being productive since my academic goals require going above and beyond in all my classes. However, with this dedication, I do end up neglecting to take care of myself. I often forget to do what’s best for my physical, mental, and spiritual health– my overall wellbeing. It took me a while to understand but, at the time, little did I know that resting is productive, too. All hard workers are prone to not knowing how to limit themselves, some of us are trained to work longer hours than the usual person. In a time where sleep has become secondary and everyone keeps pushing themselves to fatigue, we must know the importance of taking breaks:
- It gives you time to breathe.
When our bodies and minds are exhausted, it needs some time away to escape from their stressors. I remember so many sleepless nights that caused me to not think clearly thus, leading me to make wrong decisions. When in the middle of a stressful situation that is tiresome or dreadful for our mental and physical health, we all need to relax. Like how our lungs naturally breathe for air, resting is a must, and we must make sure we don’t forget to include it in our daily schedule.
- Giving yourself 5-15 minutes of break for every long hour of work will make your mind more focused.
I can recall spending endless hours doing projects and a quick break always helped me regain more mental energy to be creative and innovative again. Our minds have a short attention span, and it needs rest in order to function well. A short break wouldn’t be bad for your mind at all, so don’t be guilty.
- Taking a vacation after a stressful situation that has happened at home, school or at work can ease the nerves and help you regain the energy you lost.
Stress that arises from issues in our personal lives can also be a major setback to productivity. I, myself, have encountered many challenges that made me want to give up, to the point that I become overwhelmed and begin procrastinating. This feeling may be an indication of burnout and can be prevented if we disengage and divert our attention to leisurely activities for a while. We all deserve to know that there’s a fine line between giving too much and choosing to keep our minds at peace even in the midst of chaos. Let’s choose to do the things we enjoy when life seems to be full of problems.
- It doesn’t have to be a battle every day. Sometimes we can choose to take a day off to take care of ourselves before getting our feet on the ground again.
Taking a break does not mean we are giving up; it just means that we know how to take care of ourselves by resting and taking time to relax. When bombarded with things out of our control, taking a rest is how we can regain our power back. This can be achieved by allowing oneself to indulge in healthy or leisurely activities such as catching up on sleep, eating meals at the right times, exercising, reading a book, watching a movie, and especially meditating.
- Breaks remind us to be kinder to ourselves.
Strength and motivation are limited, but you can always regain these during your break by shifting your focus and reframing your perspective. Remind yourself that you are a human first before anything else, before your roles as a child, a student, or an employee. Self-love comes into mind when you practice self-compassion but don’t let the concept die at frilly Instagram posts and buying yourself a bar of chocolate with some flowers from the supermarket. When you notice that you’re having one of those “bad-brain days”, allow yourself to acknowledge it and the pace at which things get done. Don’t worry, the machine’s not broken; it just needs to unplug for a while.
Sometimes, the best gift one can give to themselves is to say: “It’s alright, you’re not falling behind. You’re doing just fine.”
There are countless reasons as to why you should rest but to me, all this just means that we need to start prioritizing ourselves too, even when we’re trying to reach our goals. Life will throw so many obstacles and dark days are inevitable too, so we need to learn when to step back and give ourselves some space to have some clarity, control, and energy by resting. We may live in a modern world where everything happens so fast, but if we would like to have a minute of escape from the harsh realities of life, short breaks and vacations won’t break the productive habits you’ve already developed. There is no ultimate solution to get you out of a rut during bad days, but practicing self-love by treating ourselves with kindness is a great place to start.