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You are human. You can’t do everything all the time at full speed without breaking down at some point. Pushing yourself past your own limits for too long means your body will rebel and make you take a break.
Have you ever thought about “not having time” to deal with something, but then something happens and you end up taking more time to deal with the consequences than you would have if you’d just dealt with the thing up-front?
I Don’t Have Enough Time
Let’s say you’re in a rush. You’re too busy to find a real parking spot, so you pull up into the loading zone, turn on your “park anywheres” (A.K.A. your hazard lights) and go inside to do what you need to do. When you come out, your car’s been towed. Now you absolutely make the time to deal with getting your car back, and you’ve just spent hours recovering your car when it would’ve taken five minutes to find a real parking spot.
It’s the same with our health, our bodies, and our own expectations. When you’re convinced that you don’t have time to lead a healthy life, you’ll pay for it down the road with increased medical costs and less mobility.
Take a Break—You Need It
When you’re feeling run down and ragged, that’s the time to take a break, step back, and identify what’s really going on.
This happened to me after November 2019. Early in November, my Dad unexpectedly passed away. Before that, I’d been feeling harried and overwhelmed with all my self-made commitments. Things like keeping up on my blog, posting twice a week, sending emails every Wednesday, producing podcast episodes, and taking care of my VA clients. And then the world fell away from beneath my feet. All of that took a backseat to grief and spending time with my remaining family.
I made the time because I had no other choice. I took a break from the things I’d been feeling overwhelmed and ragged about.
It took a few months to feel like I was ready to step back into it, and here we are. It’s a little different, and that’s okay. I accepted that it won’t be the same as it was before.
How Does Taking a Break Help?
Taking a break lets you breathe. It lets you see without the blinders on and realize just how hard you were driving yourself into the ground. Until I let it all go, I didn’t realize how much pressure I’d put myself under.
Stepping back from the chaos gives you perspective. It helps you see what’s important, and what was pretending to be important.
Something that’s really helped me here is a program called Self Coaching Scholars. Among many (many) other benefits, it includes weekly 20-minute coaching sessions with certified life coaches. I haven’t missed a week yet. There’s value in having someone else look at my life. It helps me see what’s really going on provides an alternative perspective.
Having someone else to walk me through my thought processes shows me just how entrenched I am in my thinking… And exactly how to break free from some limiting beliefs and thought errors I no longer want to carry with me.
You’re The Last to Know You Need a Break
When you’re inside the bottle, you can’t read the label.
When we’re in the thick of it, it’s so hard to see what’s really going on in our lives.
You know how you can always tell if someone’s struggling, or you know they’re hiding something whenever they smile because it doesn’t reach their eyes?
Others can see the same thing when they look at us.
Realizing and accepting that there’s a problem is the first step to overcoming the problem. You can’t wish problems like that away—it takes time to address and work through them.
You’ll also have a lot of questions to ask yourself about the future.
- Will you ever get out of this break period and back into things?
- Are you letting others down by taking a break?
- What happens when I’m not doing all the things I want to be doing?
Taking a break when you need to take a break is a form of self-care. Letting yourself experience renewal and regeneration by taking those breaks allows you to come back full-force later, sometimes with even more creativity or productivity than before.
How Do I Fit Them In?
The best way to ensure that you take enough breaks (before your body forces you to take them) is to schedule your free time and downtime into your calendar—and then honor those appointments with yourself.
I know from experience that if it’s not in the calendar, it won’t happen, and if you don’t commit to honoring the appointments you make with yourself, then you won’t create the life you want to live and you won’t operate from a place of compassion and grace toward yourself.
Taking a break will not kill you, but if you don’t take purposeful breaks, your body will take one for you—and you probably won’t like it when that happens.
Burnout is real—and it’s only as real as we make it with how we think, feel, and act.
For tips on dealing with burnout, listen to episode 26 of This is Type 1. While geared towards diabetic burnout, the tips we share in that episode apply to all areas of life where you can experience burnout, not just if you have type 1 diabetes.
Imagine what your future could look like if you took purposeful breaks every week—if you made it part of your routine. You could prove to yourself that not only do you deserve to take a break, but your family and friends will also understand and encourage you to take care of yourself.
The best way to serve others is to put on your own oxygen mask first.