In today’s “go, go, go” society, we idealize the pink Energizer Bunny® that beats his drum non-stop. As the battery commercial says, “He keeps going and going and…”
And so do we.
We work long hours, days and weeks without a break. Some women don’t even take advantage of their entire vacation time. Then we pack our non-work hours with more activities. We fill our evenings with appointments, social gatherings, or kid’s activities. We cook, clean and try to squeeze time to manage an overwhelming to-do list. When is there time to breathe or replenish?
But taking breaks—whether for a short walk or a long vacation—helps you avoid burnout, improve mental health and reduce the likelihood of stress-related illnesses that sometimes accompanies the “don’t stop ’til you drop” attitude. Breaks encourage the discovery of fresh perspectives and new ideas. They are a delicious reward for hard work, a pause that reinvigorates.
If you feel overwhelmed, depleted or under-energized, chances are it’s time for you to take a break. These three practices help you renew, recharge and refresh:
Get up and walk or stretch. If you spend most of your day at a computer or stuck in one place, get up and move around for a few minutes several times a day. Try to stretch. Experts continually caution that sedentary people are at increased risk of developing health issues, such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Change your meetings or conversations with friends to a “walking” discussion. Get up and walk while you are talking. Instead of sitting during your prayer or quiet time, try doing a “prayer walk”. There are a myriad of apps, like Omvana, which provide walking meditations. Every morning I listen to daily inspiration from Rick Warren on my walk.
Also, looking away from a computer screen for even one minute now and then can give your eyes—and mind—a much-needed break. According to the Mayo Clinic, although eyestrain can be annoying, it usually isn’t serious and can be relieved by resting your eyes.
On the other hand, if you are running yourself ragged, chasing after kids or keeping up a hectic pace, carving out a half-hour for a nap or some rest and relaxation will do wonders for your body and soul. Even most athletes recognize the importance of resting after intense exercise. It’s essential to high-level performance and allows the body to repair and strengthen itself.
Take a day off. When, or even better, before you start dreading getting up in the mornings, take a mental health day every now and then. Do whatever recharges you, whether that’s soaking in a bubble bath, reading a book, going for an energizing hike or even having lunch with friends. The idea here is to take a break before you get sick, depressed or feel overwhelmed.
Plan a vacation. Whether you have one week or a month off a year, make sure to take every moment of it. Or if you decide that a “stay-cation” or “play-cation” is your best option, figure out in advance how to make the best of the time you will spend in and around your home or city.
According to Karen Matthews of the University of Pittsburgh’s Mind-Body Center, “It is important to engage in multiple leisure activities, both as a way to enjoy life more, but also to potentially have a benefit on health and be a stress reliever.”
It’s up to you to discover when it’s time to take a break from your job or whatever your regular routine is. Taking breaks—big or small—helps you remain motivated and excited about your life. You want to be the Energizer Bunny? Take time to recharge!