Recently, we watched and debated, Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka taking a break to care for their mental health. While many praised them for pausing and resting others questioned if they were dedicated to their profession.
How many of us can relate to wanting, even desperately needing, a break but we don’t take it for fear of judgement or repercussions?
Earlier in my career, I worked at a non-profit organization that preached but did not practice self-care. After working for 14 days in a row, my supervisor questioned my need for a day off. I was practically in tears from exhaustion when I explained what I had been doing for the past two weeks. When I was finally granted a day off it was far from relaxing as I felt guilty and wondered if my supervisor thought that I was less committed to the work.
Fast forward 20 years and I am taking my first extended break from work to disconnect, breathe, and simply be. This wasn’t an easy decision for me to make. I was raised to work twice as hard in order to succeed. I’ve spent decades watching my mother, aunts, and grandmother work incredibly hard and without taking a break until retirement or serious illness forced them to stop working. The idea of taking a month off simply to rest and recuperate felt foreign, privileged, and uncomfortable.
The past 18 months have been exhausting. And the fear and uncertainty of the pandemic have not subsided. While not everyone can take extended time off, we can all create ways to give ourselves the breaks that we need. Here are a few things that made it easier for me to take the time I desired:
Journaling my thoughts without concern for grammar helped me realize that I really needed a break.
Walking is meditative for me. I usually spend the first 15 – 20 minutes thinking about everything that’s swirling in my head. Then my mind shifts from swirling to clarity and I’m able to be in the present moment.
Talking to my tribe is usually the final step before I take action. Once I told my tribe that I wanted to take time off they not only encouraged me to do so but also held me accountable to myself.
Think about what you need right now. Whether it’s a few hours, a couple of days, or longer, what can you do to pause and replenish yourself?