When you have a million things on your plate and you’re losing your wits, it’s hard to think of reasons to take a break. A break almost seems like giving up, or simply a way to procrastinate and prolong stress. Many of us, myself included, think that we are superhuman in the sense that we can get things done now and efficiently. But sometimes, it’s okay to take a break when things start to become too much. Here are my reasons to take a break that will hopefully inspire you to step back and breathe on those tougher days.
The first reason to take a break when you’re overwhelmed is because it’s easy to forget something. It’s hard to focus on a task when your mind is racing thinking of everything else you need to get done. I remember getting ready for a function and was frazzled with what needed to be done before getting there that I left without one of my fingernails painted. I had kept smearing it and so I thought it would be wise to quickly paint it right before I left but clearly, that didn’t pan out.
No matter what you convince yourself, you are not as productive when you are overwhelmed. In fact, you are more likely to get wrapped up in what you still need to do and not put your effort into what you are doing. Recently, I had a large amount of work to do and time was running out. I was so distracted with what I had to do that I ended up stopping and getting frustrated, only prolonging my stress. It took longer than necessary to complete my work because I didn’t take a break to breathe, calm down and refocus before finishing what I needed to do.
If you are overwhelmed, the effort you put into your work won’t be your best. The quality will diminish for sure and can look bad when those lesser quality jobs start to add up. Taking a break helps get you out of the rhythm of stressing about your work so that you can put your best effort forward when you do get around to it. I know it seems crazy to take a break when you have so much to do, but you can’t do good work when you’re on your last straw.
When you get to the point of being overwhelmed, it’s high-time to take a break. Stress is a healthy and natural part of life because the release that follows the stress provides motivation and strengthens ambition. But if things start to build to the point of exhaustion, it can have a snowball effect very quickly and begin to affect every aspect of your life. It’s better to take breaks over time so as not to get to that tipping point in the first place. You will be happier, healthier, and your future self will thank you for it.
Living in a constant state of stress and anxiety about the next thing you need to do is never good. In fact, it raises your risk for a mental breakdown, anxiety attack, and even cardiovascular problems. I remember pushing myself so hard at college to get everything done that I wasn’t taking the appropriate breaks I needed. Instead, my sanity nearly went out the window as I was swimming in anxiety and was overwhelmed around the clock. It’s moments like these when you need to take a step back, breathe, and come back to your work when you’re ready. I promise it will still be there when you come back from your break.
The most important person and thing in your life is you. You can’t afford not to take a break when you’re overwhelmed. I think of a story I once heard. A psychologist held up a glass of water and asked the audience how heavy it was. She then went on to say the weight didn’t matter; instead, what mattered was how long she held the glass. A minute would be no problem but by the end of the day her arm would be killing her. You can’t afford to keep holding that glass endlessly. It’s okay to put it down and pick it back up. No one will blame you for doing so, it’s a part of being human.
Taking a break is such a great refresher. It allows you to shift your focus and de-stress before setting back to the task at hand. A break doesn’t mean that you are necessarily wasting three hours doing nothing. Five to ten minutes can help get you ready to work again. So next time you feel overwhelmed, take a few minutes and then start up when you’re ready.
I know how easy it is to subscribe to the idea that you are superwoman and can do it all. But taking breaks is vital when you feel yourself slipping into that mania of stress. What do you like to do when you take a break?
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