Originally posted February 19, 2012 (before the disaster)
It was just four weeks ago that I was bragging in this space about how I’d done something writing-related every day.
How quickly things change!
Now, that’s not to say that I don’t still write every day. For the most part, I do. Some nights I even spend a full hour or two (in between my day job and life things, that’s pretty good for a week night) working at my craft.
But I’ve also come to realize the importance of breaks.
Last week, I was having a pretty rough time of it. My day job was getting busy and hard to handle (not at all unusual for a February in the oil and gas industry) and I hadn’t been sleeping well. I’d also gotten some negative reviews on something I’d been working on consistently for two months. To put it simply, I was run down!
As I’m sure most of you do, I follow a few blogs. One, in particular, has recently been advocating taking regular breaks from writing (one day a week, in that author’s case). I don’t have the desire to break all that frequently… yet… but the idea certainly has some merit! One of my biggest frustrations with the writing feedback that had upset me was that it was right… I was just too close to the problem!
Looking back on it now, none of these things were quite so bad (except possibly for the day job issues, but I don’t see that changing anytime in the near future). But it got me thinking a little more about how hard I’ve been working and how I manage stress. While writing every day is a fine habit to be in, this last week, I’ve needed to take a few breaks from my habit. Thus far, this has meant two whole nights where I didn’t write (one of which was a thirteen hour work day and the other my scheduled time with friends). I know… I suck at taking breaks. It’s just my personality, I suppose!
I’ve recently found that the concept is true for work as well. Two weeks ago, things got rather stressful at my place of employment (to the point where I was ready to start yelling at coworkers). Fortunately, the ongoing tasks didn’t need my direct supervision at the time, so there was a chance for me to take a mental health break. I ended up spending about an hour and a half on e-mail answering questions, but it felt good to knit, snuggle the kitties, and watch TV for a while, rather than worrying too much about work. I’m definitely thankful for the flexibility that my job offers, which allows me to work from home or take mini-breaks like that when needed.
But that day off only proved that a longer break was in order. Since I tend to hyper-focus on certain things (work, writing, TV shows from the late 1990s…) I find it very difficult to take breaks and fully separate myself from something. Fortunately, I know this about myself and several months ago we made plans for a long break right around this time! This week, I’m taking a break from work and all of my related responsibilities. I think some people call it a ‘vacation’. I’ve been looking forward to it for a while now, and I think that the rest will be good for me.
If nothing else, I can catch up on my sleep.
What do you do when you just need a break?