And now you’re thinking one of two things: Either, “he’s a complete workaholic and I don’t understand at all”. Or, “that sounds like my life oh man please tell me more.” Now maybe you have a job where work doesn’t follow you home, but many of us, especially in entertainment, are always working. And since I work from home, I always feel like I could be doing something productive.
But this was the Friday after Thanksgiving – where most people eat leftovers and sleep. And I opted to join that majority. I spent the day with three of my close friends, and did nothing. We made cinnamon rolls, watched two movies, browsed YouTube, and enjoyed the day. And all the while, I was struck by how refreshing it felt to let go of work for a day, and take a true break.
But I have so much work to do!
That’s a phrase often heard when you encourage someone to take a break. And I get it. I’m busy too and it can feel insurmountable. Breaks are sometimes seen as being lazy, and aren’t looked upon favorably. As a result, people get trapped in a cycle of “I have a lot of work to do, and the only way to solve it is to work nonstop until it’s finished.” And while this can be effective at first, consistent work without breaks will damage your quality of work, create bad habits, and hurt your physical and mental health if pushed too far.
I think that it’s even more important that you take a moment for yourself when you have more to do. You need time to process everything that is going on around you. During the workday, your brain becomes filled with tons of information and it all begins to clutter. Without downtime, it’s difficult to sort through the information received and make sense of it. High stress jobs (like airplane pilots, surgeons, etc.) require breaks so that you can collect your thoughts and handle the situation in the best possible light. How many times you had that epiphany in the shower, or come back to a project a couple days later and suddenly it finishes itself? (That happened with this article.) This all comes from taking a break and letting the ideas percolate in your mind. So while taking a full day off from work may be too difficult, taking several five-minute breaks throughout the day can totally refresh you.
Go outside please.
Everyone knows they should take a break, but I think there are few people who do it successfully. It’s very easy to get caught up with work when we have easy access to email and constant communication. And while this is incredibly helpful for work, it’s important to take a step back from it to relax. To do this most effectively, you need to get away from your work environment. This includes phones! Walk away from what you consider your working area, and leave any devices you use for work behind. Give yourself a minimum of five minutes away without distractions and zone out. Let your mind wander and get off of the task at hand, and focus on something unrelated. I personally like to take walks so I can focus on the world around me, and physically move. Just being in a different environment can help you shift your mindset, take a breather, and feel ready to go back to work.
Work Hard, and Reward Yourself!
Now with all of this in mind, it doesn’t mean you can use breaks as an excuse to avoid work. Things need to be done and there are deadlines. Taking that day off was so refreshing to me because I had been working hard constantly, and I suddenly had a chance to breathe, reflect, and reignite my passion for music. You deserve a break when you’ve been working hard. I highly recommend reading these two articles that I found and drew information from. They’re a bit long, but totally worth your time!
So stop feeling guilty about needing a break. It’s a normal and healthy thing that we all need as humans.