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When Is It Time To Take A Break?

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Per Ola Wiberg (Powi)

“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” – Ovid

Knowing when to stop is just as important as knowing when to start.  Only, we’re often not that good at knowing when to stop.

Breaks are necessary for us to regain perspective, be more creative and ultimately feel good about ourselves and the way life is going.  Sometimes what you need is to rest.

Signs That You Need A Break

You Feel Irritated – Ever have a day when everything that happens makes you feel irritated?  That usually means that what you need is to step back.  It’s probably not the situation itself that is making you feel short, it’s probably something inside of you.  For me, this is one of the first signs that it’s time to take a break.

You Feel Longing – I’ve been sitting at work recently, feeling a strong pull to go to the beach and be outside.  Granted it is summertime and the weather is warm, but this could also be a sign that it’s time to take a vacation.  My work is going fine, but I can’t escape this feeling of wanting to be outside.  When you feel strongly pulled in one direction, take some time to listen.  It’s probably telling you something.

You Feel No Enjoyment – Do you still get the same enjoyment from an activity that you once did?  If you don’t, think about taking a break from it.  You may need to bring more creative ideas to the activity.  In that case, take a break and let your unconscious do some “thinking” for you.  When you come back, you just may find that you see things in a different light.  On the other hand, this could indicate that it’s time to take a permanent break.  You may need to cut this from your life.

You Feel Bored – Maybe you need to inject a fresh challenge into whatever you are doing.  Once you begin to feel comfortable with something, think about how you can take it further.  It’s OK to be comfortable for a little while, but after some time you will get bored if you don’t feel challenged.  Step aside for a while and think of how you can add some challenge for yourself.

You Can’t Focus – When you just can’t concentrate any longer, whether in a short term or a long term sense, stop whatever it is that you are doing.  At this point, if you push through, your focus is only going to get worse.  If you want to be more productive – take some time off.  If you are feeling restless, it means you need some rest.

You Feel Tired – When you are just plain worn out, don’t push yourself further.  Break your routine and do something different.  You are not going to feel more energetic by pushing through, but you will feel better after a break.

Short Term and Long Term Breaks

In your life, you need both short term and long term breaks.  A short term break is taking a 20 minute power nap in the afternoon.  A long term break is putting your blog on hold for a month, while you think about what it is that you really have to say.

Regularly taking both types of breaks is important.  Both your body and mind need restorative time.  You can’t be all action and no inaction.  Being idle is a part of being productive and fulfilled.  It’s hard to understand, but things happen when we are resting that we are not quite aware of.  It’s the maintenance we need to live our lives as we want to.

Don’t wait for the above symptoms to assail you at the wrong moment.  Make regular short term and long term breaks a part of your life.

How do you know that it’s time for a break?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Jodi at Joy Discovered July 30, 2009, 8:10 pm

    Hi Amanda,
    Your advice here is so important to follow! I know I need a break when I can’t focus and begin to feel overwhelmed. I also notice that I will work to fulfill obligations but not because my heart is into it. Break time for me is listening to some music, resting, reading a book or sometimes a whole day (or two, or three) where I am completely un-plugged from technology. You are so right, breaks are really important. There are some great things we come up with when we give our minds the time to rest and drift peacefully at its own pace!
    Great blog!
    .-= Jodi at Joy Discovered´s last blog ..Live the Dream Now =-.

  • Eden July 30, 2009, 8:38 pm

    Amanda, I can’t believe your timing on this one! You see we are going on vacation tomorrow (once a year) to the beach! I have felt each and every one of these and I love the way you’ve broken them down into the “what” and the solutions! Love your blog 🙂 Eden
    .-= Eden´s last blog ..Numerical Doodles =-.

  • Sherryd July 31, 2009, 12:44 am

    What a wonderful check list of items to be aware of that indicate it is time to take a break. All too often we get caught up in things and fail to recognize the signs until we get sick or it is pointed out to us.
    .-= Sherryd´s last blog ..Parent’s Guide to Fish Tank Aquariums =-.

  • Srinivas Rao July 31, 2009, 12:12 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. I can totally relate to everything in this post. For me, the thing I”m taking a break from is submitting resumes and searching for a job. It’s kind of made me feel all the things you mention here.
    .-= Srinivas Rao´s last blog ..How to get free drinks and get treated like A VIP Everywhere You Go =-.

  • Tess The Bold Life July 31, 2009, 1:49 pm

    I can’t agree with you more! My husband is looking for a new job and it’s been a little stressful. We are taking a break and going to Vegas for a few days. Never been there and never had an interest but hey I’m going to be bold and go for it!
    .-= Tess The Bold Life´s last blog ..Out-of-The-Box Blogging Bold =-.

  • Amanda Linehan July 31, 2009, 8:57 pm

    Hi Jodi – Another great suggestion – taking an extended break from technology. Frankly, I need to do that more!

    Hi Eden – Have fun at the beach! I love going myself and hope to make it later this summer. Thanks for leaving a comment. 🙂

    Hi Sherryd – Good point you brought up about getting sick after ignoring the signs that we need a break. That’s certainly happened to me several times, and ultimately I do get the rest I need.

  • Amanda Linehan July 31, 2009, 9:00 pm

    Hi Srinivas – Oh yeah, job hunting can get exhausting after a while. I think I’ve done three job hunts in the last 4 years or so! Taking a break from that, even though it feels very urgent, is probably a good idea.

    Hi Tess – Hope you all have a great time on vacation! Job hunts are stressful – sounds like this is a needed break.

  • Positively Present August 1, 2009, 8:22 pm

    Great post! I often don’t pay attention to the signs that I need a break and it’s actually so helpful to read what you’ve written here. I really need to keep these in mind!
    .-= Positively Present´s last blog ..happiness and the city =-.

  • Barbara Swafford August 2, 2009, 4:08 am

    Hi Amanda,

    Great points for when we need breaks. I just came back from one and feel so much more refreshed. It’s like a new beginning.

    I know I need a break when I start getting irritable. It doesn’t happen too often, but when it does, you’ll find me packing. 🙂
    .-= Barbara Swafford´s last blog ..When The Conversation Stops =-.

  • Amanda Linehan August 2, 2009, 8:03 pm

    Hi Dani – Yes, there have definitely been times when I’ve ignored them too – to my own peril! Sometimes it still happens, but I know better now to listen to the signs. 🙂

    Hi Barbara – Sometimes it takes a new beginning in order to see things with a fresh perspective. Like night and day. 🙂

  • Karen Chaffee August 3, 2009, 8:50 am

    What an enlightening post! I know I need a break whenever I experience one or more of the things you’ve mentioned, and those things don’t pass within a day or two. I recently had a forced break when my computer was in the shop for about 10 days, and the things I discovered or re-discovered were the refreshment I hadn’t realized that I needed.

    Karen
    .-= Karen Chaffee´s last blog ..Whiff of Nostalgia =-.

  • Amanda Linehan August 3, 2009, 5:58 pm

    Hi Karen – I’ve also noticed that I get “forced breaks” sometime. I guess when we are not attending to ourselves the universe does it for us!

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