Too much to do and not enough time? Lists growing faster than you can work your way through them? Struggling to fit in anything fun in around all the must-dos? Yea, I know those feelings well. I often get to the point where I feel like stuff is getting the better of me, a horrible overwhelming sense that ties my stomach in knots and makes me super sensitive, unable to make any kind of decision, and no good for any kind of productivity.
The beach. My favourite place for taking a break.
Taking a break, allowing ourselves time to relax and rejuvenate, actually makes us more productive. Taking time out for yourself might seem counterproductive when you are in the middle of a particularly busy time, but it has a massive impact on our ability to think clearly and organise ourselves, which means we are more successful at working our way through those must-dos.
But the problem with a busy life is that it’s often hard to see the wood for the trees. If you are like me then you sometimes struggle to a) know that you need to take a break to recharge and reset, and b) find time to take that much needed break. It is clearly much better for us all if we have regular breaks, because then we don’t get into that spiral of business that leads to that feeling of being out of control. And while I don’t get it right all the time, there are some self-care habits I try to keep that, when I manage to do them regularly, definitely make a difference.
Until someone manages to either clone me, or discovered there are actually 30 hours in a day and eight days in a week, I need to find quick and simple ways to take a break and recharge so I can get back to it and continue to give my all to everything I do. Here are ten things I try to do to keep me sane and provide regular breaks from the business. Maybe they’ll help you too.
Taking a Break to Reset and Recharge
01. One Hour Outside
Spending time outside is proven to be good for us. The fresh air, natural light, maybe even some exercise, is great for our personal health and wellbeing. Something as simple as spending one hour outside each day can help lower your stress levels, help you make decisions, help up your energy levels, and as a result make you more productive. What’s not to like?! The easiest and arguably the best way to give yourselves a break every single day is to start to make One Hour Outside a habit. Make it part of your daily routine.
02. Schedule Days Off
Having something to look forward to gives your mind something exciting to focus on. Even if you are having a really busy and stressful day, knowing that you have tomorrow or the next day off helps to make things feel less overwhelming. I try to make sure I always know when my next day off is – and that it is not too far in the distant future. It might be a random day off work to go on a mini adventure or tick off something from my bucket list (I had a day in Wales to do Zip World earlier this week), or as simple as a Saturday at home doing chores and catching up on general bits and bobs. What you do with it is irrelevant, really, just make sure there is a “day off” or two marked in your diary in the next week to ten days.
03. Switch Off
Social media is amazing. Brilliant even. It’s useful and fun and creates a huge number of opportunities for us. But it is also a massive time waster. And it is full of stuff that makes us feel like we aren’t meeting those expectations we set ourselves based on the online lives of other people. So switch it off. Not all the time, but sometimes. Take regular breaks from social media to make sure that you aren’t getting caught up in the time wasting mood hoover side of it. An easy place to start is by putting your phone away when you eat dinner, even when you are just sitting down at the kitchen table alone; making eating and social media mutually exclusive will allow you to take a break from the screen and to enjoy your food more.
04. Eat Well
Planning fresh and healthy meals will ensure you are taking decent breaks when eating (rather than eating junk food on the go). It will also help make sure that you don’t see the side effects of your stress and business in your waistline or skin; it is very easy to let your health slip when you are overwhelmed with things to do. Eat good food that you’ve cooked yourself, or arrange to meet friends for dinner and choose something colourful from the menu (a colourful meal is a healthy meal…). Oh, and leave your phone in your bag and don’t take your work to the dinner table. Do this for at least one meal a day and you will not only refuel but also recharge.
05. Sleep Well
I probably don’t need to tell you that sleeping well is a good way to reset and recharge. It’s probably the best way, in fact. However much you try, skimping on quality sleep will always lead to difficulties, and it can take weeks to get over just one or two bad nights. So make it a priority. Establish a good evening routine to help you along the way to a decent night; write your action list for the following day, do the washing up (so it’s not there in the morning), put the tech away, have a wash (you can call it a skincare routine if you like!), play some relaxing music, read a book, write in your journal, and get into bed with enough time for a decent length sleep before your alarm goes off the following morning. Treat sleep as your system reboot, and make the most of it.
Yes I know, here I am suggesting that one way to take a break from the business of life is to do chores. And not the good chores either, the rubbish ones, the ones that involve scrubbing and bending, and all that. Having a clean and tidy house, with fresh bed linen, a sparkling shower, empty bins, a shiny hob and bit-free carpet is so satisfying. The taking a break bit comes at the end when you sit down in your wonderfully clean and tidy home. Not only that, as having all those things done will remove at least some of the distraction that niggles away when you’re trying to get something serious done.
07. Chat with Friends
A long conversation with a good friend can work wonders for our minds, and is a great way to recharge. I realise that when tired it is very easy to just want to retreat into a quiet corner, but sometimes it does us good to be sociable and revive ourselves that way. A phone call to a special someone might do the trick, but allowing yourself time to actually meet with friends is even better. Go out out if you wish, but a pub with an open fire – or even your own front room – will do very nicely. It’s amazing how quickly an evening of moaning and whinging about life’s difficulties can turn into laughing at old stories and planning your next adventure. Friends are awesome, make the most of them!
08. Listen to Music
I don’t know what kind of day you are having today, but I know there is a piece of music to match it. Music is wonderful, it is my favourite way to unwind (and wind up, in fact…). There is rarely a moment when I don’t have music playing in the background; it helps with my mood and my productivity, and certainly helps keep my mind level so I can get on with the tasks before me. You can find ready-made playlists on Spotify or create your own, or just have your favourite album on repeat. Whether you need to feel motivated, energised, relaxed, sleepy, there will be music to help you on your way.
09. Write it Down
Are you a list maker? A journal writer? Both can help you manage your thoughts, organise yourself, and cut through the business. I rely on lists, without them I very quickly become an unorganised mess who rather than getting anything done ends up staring at the piles of stuff surrounding her wondering where it all went wrong. Write everything down, have a master list with everything on it and then a separate daily list, making sure you are realistic with the number of things on it. Writing notes and lists are also a great way to take the stuff that is in your head and sorting it out (and getting rid of it form inside your mind!) – carry a notebook or use the notes function on your phone and every time an idea or problem or thing you need to buy pops into your head, write it down.
10. Be a Little Bit Selfish
The biggest difficulty I face when I’m overwhelmed with life is that sense of guilt that swoops in for being an adult with an inability to handle my own existence. It is okay to admit that things aren’t right, that there is too much going on, and that you are feeling anxious or stressed. Admit it, and then do something to help yourself. Say no, ask for help, take a step back; working on yourself for a while is a perfectly acceptable thing to do. Know when being a little bit selfish is the right thing to do – take that break, treat yourself, and enjoy it.
Photos are all taken at Penmaenmawr beach, north Wales, where I stopped for a break before driving four hours home.
Self-care, looking after yourself, is so very important. Learn to recognise when you have got to that point of feeling overwhelmed, and put things in place to deal with that feeling when it arrives. Even better, put some of these ten things into motion ahead of time so you can try to avoid getting to that point in the first place.
What do you do to reset, recharge and rejuvenate?
I’d love to hear your tips for banishing that run down feeling and picking yourself up ready to go again. Comment below.