Even the Energizer Bunny has a Breaking Point
It’s summer and for the first time in nearly 18 months, we can honestly talk about traveling and taking vacations once again.
Of course, for some of us, there may have been some unwanted “vacations” during the pandemic. My sympathies to those who were let go through no fault of their own. It’s painfully obvious driving around that all too many businesses – large and small, but mostly small – weren’t able to survive months of lost revenue. I sincerely hope that all those affected, including the business owners, have been able to pivot and find new opportunities going forward.
For those who kept “their nose to the grindstone,” though, a mental health break is well overdue. It doesn’t matter whether your business just barely survived or enjoyed record profits, we’re all stressed from uncertainty, staffing concerns, and inventory shortfalls, to name just a few worries. Many of us assumed heavier workloads as companies tightened their belts and dealt with labor shortages and higher expenses. We’re tired. Our nerves are frayed. And we’re irritated at the long confinements we had to endure.
Vacations are necessary, even if it’s just to get away for a few days now and then. Our mental and emotional health suffer without them. An honest-to-goodness relax and free-your-mind type of vacation usually needs about a week. It takes a few days to decompress from the stress of work and everyday life. How many times have you heard someone complain that, by the time they finally were able to unwind from work and relax, it was time to wrap up their trip and head back to their regular routine? Yup, me too. And there’s truth to it, especially if (like me) you’re prone to making lists, reviewing your to-do schedules in your head, and planning out your calendar weeks in advance.
Sometimes a mental health break can be as little as a long weekend or – when there’s no option for some time off – a quick change of scenery during the work day. I like to stretch my legs and focus on something more than just my computer screen. The neighborhood park is not far from our home and just a ten minute walk around its circular design is enough to clear my mind. I especially enjoy seeing the little kids on the playground or riding their bikes as I stride along (jumping last minute out of their way plenty of times!). Just being outside in nature is often enough to rejuvenate me. My body is moving, my eyes can work the long distance vision again, and the sounds and smells of the outdoors are refreshing. Assuming that the neighbors have scooped up after their dogs.
Taking a quick break for every few hours of work has its benefits, so here are a few good excuses - er, reasons - for taking a little time out:
You’ll feel more relaxed.
Your stress level goes down.
Your mood improves.
Your productivity improves.
Your creativity is sparked.
You’ll generally feel happier.
Chances are people will pick up on your improved mood and be happier around you.
You can think more clearly.
With new stimuli, fresh ideas for solving stagnant problems often pop into your head.
You’re more receptive to different perspectives.
You have time for reflection.
You’ll have had at least a little time just to yourself, without outside demands.
One last benefit: It keeps you from going bonkers. Or developing tunnel-vision. If nothing else, the quick break reminds us that we’re human and not machines. We need time to refresh. Come to think of it, even machines break down if they’re not allowed to cool off from time to time. Human or machine, we all need to hit the off switch from time to time.
Even writing this blog post has been a bit of a break, too. Just doing something different and using a different part of my brain is a nice change of pace. Ahhh…. OK, break’s over! Back into the closet for me (also known as my home voiceover studio). At least for a little while. 😊