do something · essay

How to Take a Break

I’m not good at taking breaks. I’m good at getting really exhausted and then checking social media, but that is the worst way to take breaks.

My friend Amy recently told me that she doesn’t let her car get under a half tank. She wants to be prepared. And then she said, “Why can’t we do that for ourselves?” If we can manage to keep our vehicles full of fuel, we can also work to keep ourselves fueled and ready to go.

Which means we need to take breaks. And not breaks when we’ve become exhausted and empty–instead, we need breaks when we’re half-empty, before we’re exhausted.

But some breaks that I take are just horrible: Checking social media. Looking at the news and pandemic trends. Watching YouTube videos. Staring mindlessly at a computer screen is not a good break: it doesn’t replenish me and makes me feel more drained.

Here are some ideas on how to take a real break that can actually give our minds and bodies the rest we need and invigorate us to keep going:

  • Exercise.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Go outside.
  • Read a book.
  • Talk to a friend.
  • Play with a child.
  • Do a small act of service.
  • Say a prayer.
  • Sit in silence.
  • Meditate.
  • Say something you’re grateful for.
  • Eat a snack. Preferably a somewhat healthy one.
  • Drink some water.
  • Clean up. Even doing a tiny bit can help.
  • Sit there and do nothing (but don’t look at a screen).

Sometimes taking a break is difficult. I have a hard time changing my focus and I want to just get stuff done. But it’s not efficient to get stuff done by working and working until I’m overly exhausted and I can’t do anything else.

I’m going to keep working on taking breaks–the right sort of breaks that will help me feel happier, energized, and live the life I want to live.

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