Ironically, I’m writing this post late at night after an 50+ hours of work this week split between two jobs, a full social calendar, and major adjustments in medication that mean my brain wants to operate three times slower than usual even while I’m doing twice as much. It has not been a week of rest – but that’s exactly why I need to write this, because I know all you vinas out there are living (and #killingit) through similar whirlwinds of crazy.
It’s easy to get to a point where you’re so used to going, and going, and going, that the thought of rest induces a squeak of panic deep inside, as if in taking a break you might find out how tired you are, or how hurting, or how afraid of the future. So how do you give yourself the space you need, without completely crashing? How do you take a break without breaking your routine or your sanity beyond repair? How do you – take a deep breath – rest?
Rather than hand you a set of rules to rest by or give you scheduling instructions for how to make this break the most effective, efficient time-off of your life, I’d like to suggest a few questions to help you figure out what taking time off looks like for you. Everyone’s break will look different, but goodness knows we all need one. So I challenge you: pause for a minute, look inside, and ask yourself the following.
HOW MUCH OF A BREAK DO I NEED?
Maybe you’re in a pretty good place. You’re happy with your job, your relationships, your living situation. Sure, you’re always on the go, but that’s what you love. You know you need a breather, but if you’re out of your routine for too long you’ll miss it like nobody’s business.
First thought: you still deserve a break. Second: maybe it doesn’t have to be huge. An afternoon spent with your vinas sipping coffee by the pool, a few hours writing in your journal, or a slow walk through the park might be just enough to help you reflect and re-energize for what’s next.
Or maybe you’re not doing so well. Maybe you’ve been filling your schedule to help yourself forget a relationship that ended badly, a career that’s not what you thought it would be, an upcoming decision that you’re dreading and avoiding thinking about. Maybe you’re barely hanging on to feeling “normal,” feeling like you have a place to be and a reason to be there. Maybe the thought of a break is actually, truly freaking you out.
If you’re closer to this second scenario, you might be in need of something bigger than a few-hour hiatus from the usual routine. You might need to pull yourself away for a weekend or longer so you can reconnect more deeply with the things that make you feel happy and fulfilled. Maybe you need a friend’s help – it’s not easy to feel this way alone!
Even if you don’t have time for the rest you really need, identifying how much of a break you crave will help you set expectations and priorities for the time you do have and will help you avoid feeling guilty when you don’t feel fully refreshed after a partial getaway.
WHAT DOES A “BREAK” MEAN FOR ME?
The other big question you need to answer is what a break looks like in your life. Are you an extrovert but spend all day alone in an office? Maybe a break means going somewhere you can interact with people. Are you introverted and working with excitable, social kids all day? Peace, quiet, and maybe some QT with one vina might be the most important things to prioritize.
The point of taking a break is to treat yourself! If you’ve been holding off on a foot massage or eyeing that pastry shop down the street, maybe it’s time to give it a go. If you’ve been craving a solo road trip, dreaming of your favorite spot in town, or reaching for the same book on your shelf whenever you almost have time to read, give yourself permission to enjoy what you want and love. I’ll say it again: everyone’s break will be different. The important part is that it feels like a break to you.
If you’re like me, a big part of taking time off is simply to process what’s happening in your life. How often do we reflect deeply on our goals, revisit our best memories from the last few months, or dream up our next life scheme? Or if you’re facing a big decision, maybe you need time to rediscover your values and priorities as you try to make the right choice. Whatever your purpose – whether to just have fun or to revisit your contemplative side – put in some mental effort to make sure you’re giving yourself what you need.
WHERE IN MY LIFE CAN I CREATE SPACE FOR FREE TIME?
One of the most useful ideas I encountered in college was the concept of building “architecture in time.” Think about your time like you think you about your house – you can arrange it, shape it, organize, structure, remodel, separate it into rooms. Think about taking a break as building a beautiful private room in the house of your hours. What will you put in that room? What will its color scheme be, how much furniture will you put there, what kind of music will you play? Will it have windows? Or maybe it’s a porch. How about technology? A TV? Who will be allowed to come in?
Then, you have to figure out where in your house this room will go. Is there space for it already? Maybe you can section off a corner of the living room, or maybe you’ll need to build an addition of sorts. You can’t add time to your life, but you can start to evaluate the many ways you use your time now. Pay attention to the hours you spend working, commuting, socializing, watching Netflix, working out, eating, making food, sleeping, etc. Maybe you’ll see a place where you can cut back on your social commitments for a week to make way for a really lovely block of time Friday evening. Or, if you’re at a place in life where you need a really serious getaway, maybe you need to request a few days off of work.
Whatever your eventual solution, I’ll give you a hint about your time off: it’s there somewhere. Be observant about your time, and think about it like you’d think about your bedroom or your kitchen cabinets. You can find room for yourself.
COMMIT. RELAX. CONNECT.
Once you’ve figured out how much and what kind of break you need, and you’ve cleared a precious swath of time and space for yourself, DO IT! Commit an act of self-love and survival by following through. Don’t sweat over making this a perfect, all-rejuvenating rest, but let yourself sink into a different pace, a different routine (temporarily) from your usual. Rediscover what makes you happy. Stubbornly guard your date with yourself, but if it ends up not being what you expected, that’s ok too. This, dear vina, is for you, and you deserve it.
And when you’ve rested, share your #takeabreak #ladybrag in the comments!
(Feature image via @dailydoseofstuf)