Whether it’s sitting out in the sun, my thumbs tracing the edges of pages as I read or soaking in a mixture of shea butter, water, and rose petals, I need to take some time to pause, relax, and enjoy some time not working on something.
However, I’m absolutely awful at actually taking a break. As soon as I stop to read or take a bath, my brain starts to remind me of all the things that I have yet to do—important or not. Just this weekend, I had some time with Turner during which he didn’t have to work on his show for the first time in ages. It was fantastic getting to see him and spend time just lounging about. Yet even still, I couldn’t stop thinking about what had to be done or what I had completed but without my best effort. It even led to moments of mounting anxiety and a panic attack.
Even with these struggles, I’ve found things that help me take a break, even one just a few seconds long, without feeling guilty or triggering my anxiety. I hope some of them might be able to help you as well.
- Look at your to-do list and find one that is a bit more calming than the others. Then take your time doing that task while having a cup of your favourite beverage.
This may not seem like a break to most people, but sometimes, it’s as close to a break as I can get. But I’ve also found that it can help a lot. Like right now, my little break before I go into work is taking time to write this post with drinking some lime-infused water because the majority of my to-do list seems too daunting at the moment, and writing can be very cathartic. Other times, the least stressful thing on my to-do list is applying to jobs or something else that is still a bit overwhelming. But having a cup of tea while working on it helps my mind relax, and getting the applications submitted makes me feel so much more relieved when I’m done.
- Whenever you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, take a moment to breathe, count to ten slowly, and close your eyes. Imagine yourself relaxed while doing the task at hand, and then resume what you are doing.
This little ten- to twenty-second long break is a necessity for me every day whether I’m at work, running errands, cleaning, or writing. Even though I may not have the time to actually take a break or recharge, just stopping and reminding myself to breathe deeply and picturing myself relaxed helps me to keep my anxiety under control and release the tension building up in my body.
- After each task accomplished, reward yourself in some small way.
I can get a little out of control with this one sometimes. There have been occasions where I literally needed to reward myself after making breakfast or showering. Now I tend to reward myself after I do almost anything that has been crossed off my to-do list. My little treats to myself vary a lot depending on my mood, how much time I have, and what the weather is like. Sometimes, I watch an episode of a show on Netflix. Others, I make myself another cup of tea. Another time, I make myself a snack. Others I talk a walk or take time to stare out a window for a while.
- Schedule mandatory breaks into your day.
This has been a big thing for me lately. I’m really bad at feeling like I deserve a break whenever I get home from work because I’ve not done anything on my personal to-do list. But I’m learning that if I don’t take a break when I get home, I start unravelling a little bit. So now, I schedule a half-hour to hour break after work. I usually take that time to stop and breathe with my eyes closed for a couple minutes, observe the world around me, watch an episode of a show, eat a snack, exercise a little bit, and/or do some art. Then I look through my list, see what my top three priorities are, and resume my day.
- Add things you do for self-care to your to-do list.
I have to do this far more frequently than I care to admit. I add anything and everything from clipping my nails to making my lunch for work to taking a bath on a particularly stressful day. Often times, I will even mark these simple self-care tasks as priorities because otherwise I might not think of them as important enough to accomplish and my physical and mental health may suffer as a result. Writing these types of things on my to-do list helps me realise that my health and even my relaxation are highly important and that, no matter how busy or stressed I am, I need to take care of myself.
What are some of your favourite ways to recharge, relax, and ensure you take a break? Let me know in the comments below!