Have you been taking breaks recently?
Updated: Mar 1
As summer in the northern hemisphere is beginning to come to an end, I hope you've enjoyed a lovely break.
I’ve been taking a break as well. Actually, in fact it’s been two breaks in a way…
one was proactive - a lovely 6-week planned trip back to North America to catch up with family and friends (after three long years), and
one was reactive - and in response to getting sick and taking time to work through it and recover.
Have you been taking breaks recently? How would you classify them - proactive or reactive?
First, proactive breaks.
The kind you intentionally plan and set out in advance. They can be fun to plan out and create something to look forward to and get excited about. After long lockdowns, getting out and having fun feels extra special!
Being unapologetic about taking the time and space is empowering.
Check out this auto-email I received from one of my clients last week:
“Thank you for your message. I am enjoying a (very) long weekend, I am back on XXXXX. A weekend focused on all things that make me deeply happy!
If you want some (different) inspiration on how to take care of your wellbeing to perform better, I can highly recommend this book:
The Core - Better Life, Better Performance: Amazon.co.uk: Saari Oskari, Hintsa Aki: 9789510417386: Books
I love this direct, open and unapologetic approach to taking breaks and an invitation for others to grow too! I’ve “dared” a few of my coaching clients that yearned for a break this summer to take one unapologetically, and to set up firm boundaries too.
Setting up boundaries, and then following them (which is often the hard part)!
In my case, based on the way I’ve crafted my own set up of work and life, some projects interweave into my proactive breaks. Personally, I like it this way at this stage. But one boundary I set was getting off of social media - which included a break from posting, as well as a break from consuming (and scrolling)! The intention behind this was to be present on my trip with the people I was keen to spend good quality time with.
I, for the most part, stuck true to it, and I have to say it contributed to a calm, steady state throughout the trip and my ability to stay present with people.
Have you been unapologetic about proactive breaks?
What are some of the boundaries you’ve set?
How well have you done at holding them?
Then there is the reactive break.
The kind you need to take, and often when you least expect it. A few months back, I celebrated this incredible birthday, welcoming in a new decade, feeling full of love and anticipation for what could unfold with open arms. Then, just about a week later, I came down with something (that was later diagnosed as viral encephalitis). Taking reactive breaks is something I know many people have experienced during the pandemic - be it for ourselves or to care for others.
While I tried to unapologetically give myself the space I needed, I, personally, found it harder to do. I found it difficult to set up boundaries and to hold to them.
On one level, it seems counterintuitive. In the moment I actually truly needed space, I found it harder to take. But on another level, I can see how difficult it was to sit with the wide range of feelings, physical and emotional, I was experiencing. And in the short term it was a great coping mechanism to try and distract myself with work or other tasks.
But it wasn’t a great strategy, because with a reduced capacity and less energy, I’d get tired and then criticize myself - be it for my contribution and it’s subpar quality or for taking it on in the first place. None of this was very productive - and that’s just it. Deep down, this reactive break was exposing a deep personal fear of mine, a fear of being useless.
Noticing this fear, naming it, and letting it go has been important. And I’m not sure I would have in the same way if the two ‘breaks’ weren’t in such juxtaposition of each other!
Have you had any reactive breaks recently?
How have you done at setting and holding boundaries?
It’s been helpful to turn this little break chapter into an opportunity to do exactly what I set out to do this decade - to love fully - and to connect with myself as a starting point. I look forward to easing back in after this period of breaks.
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