We know we need to take a break, we are told it all the time but the reality of being able to take time out from a busy workload and frantic personal life means we often don’t heed the advice.
When you take a break, you are not shirking responsibility. You are taking care of yourself so you’ll have the stamina to be your best. By learning the signs that you need a break, you’ll know when to schedule some time away to help you feel more refreshed and restored.
Risks of Not Taking Breaks
The body is designed to respond to short bursts of stress. When stress is prolonged and the stress response is triggered repeatedly and regularly, as can happen in a stressful job or a conflict-ridden relationship, the situation turns into one of chronic stress, and real health problems can set in.
Chronic stress may make you more susceptible to conditions ranging from frequent headaches and gastrointestinal issues to high blood pressure, which brings an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. When your ‘allostatic load’, or overall level of stress, accumulates to a certain level, stress can snowball because you’re constantly in a state of reactivity.
At this point, even positive events can feel overwhelming if they take energy to enjoy. You’re not able to respond from a place of strength and wisdom, but rather from a place of anxiety, or you work on auto-pilot.
Signs That You Need to Take a Break
Sometimes, it’s obvious that you need a holiday. In other cases, stress can sneak up on you. You may not necessarily recognise when you’re at risk of being overwhelmed and burned out. Everyone responds to stress in unique ways, which means that the signs of being overwhelmed are also highly individual.
However, there are some general warning signs that apply in most cases. If you’re experiencing one or more of the following, start planning some downtime. This might mean a holiday or even just a weekend staycation to recharge your batteries.
Key Signs You Need A Break Include:
- Changes in eating habits
- Cynicism about work
- Difficulty concentrating
- Getting sick more frequently
- Lack of energy and motivation
- Low mood and frustration
- Physical symptoms such as headaches or stomach aches
- Poor performance at work
- Sleep disturbances
- Withdrawing from friends, family, or coworkers
Benefits of Taking a Break
Holidays and even shorter breaks such as an afternoon off where you get some physical and psychological space from the demands of life can bring many rewards. Some of the benefits you may enjoy when you take a break include:
Reduced Stress: Obviously, you feel less stress when you’re not in a stressful environment but breaks bring more than that. They interrupt the cycle of stress that can lead to being overwhelmed.
Rest: By breaking out of the cycle of chronic stress, you can restore yourself physically and mentally to a healthier place.
Clearer Thinking: A chronically triggered stress response can lead to decreased creativity, memory problems and other issues so a break in the stress cycle can lead to sharper thinking and increased creativity in all areas of your life.
Increased Productivity: All of this can make you better at your job, more available in your relationships, more energetic with your family and more able to enjoy life when you return.