The day after the 2018 Oscars, Black Panther star Lupita Nyong’o celebrated the end of a hectic awards season with a birthday present to herself: a 10-day silent retreat in Texas. The Oscar-winning actress told Marie Claire back in February that giving herself time away with just her thoughts and her own company (she didn’t even take her phone or her car!) was exactly what she needed to find peace and clarity out of the spotlight. “Our lives are so full of distractions; you go from one distraction to another,” she told the magazine. “Our identities are built on assembling [things] to basically write the stories of our lives, but learning to unclutch from that control makes it easier to live, to exist.”

Now, in her new Vanity Fair cover story, the Academy Award-winner has become our work hero yet again, revealing that taking a full-stop break between projects wasn’t just a one-time event for her. It’s become a regular, long-term habit that sustains her stamina to perform at her highest capacity. “Finishing an intensive project is kind of like having a hangover, where you’re so used to a rigor of existence and then all of a sudden, there’s none,” she said. “I make the time because otherwise I wouldn’t survive.” 

Her perspective shines a much-needed light on our “hustle culture” of nonstop work output. The reality is, of course, that we cannot reach the goals we’re hustling so hard for if we’re running on empty. In fact, research shows that taking time off is one of the most impactful, yet undervalued, keys to performing at our full potential, and preventing burnout in the long run. 

And you don’t need to go off the grid to unplug and recharge. At Thrive, for example, we offer Thrive time, a half or whole day off to recover from a spurt of intense work, which doesn’t count toward your PTO allowance. And don’t underestimate the power of a well-spent long weekend, or microcation, to restore you. Even a Microstep in this area has benefits: Try declaring an end to your day, say, an hour earlier than usual. Whether your “break” is a few extra hours at home or a 10-day retreat in the wilderness, you’ll be able to tap into the benefits of downtime and return to work feeling more refreshed and ready to take on new challenges and opportunities. 

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  • Mallory Stratton

    Director of Content Operations at Thrive

    Mallory is Director of Content Operations at Thrive. Prior to Thrive, she was Associate Editor on “It’s All In Your Head” by Keith Blanchard (Wicked Cow Studios, 2017), an illustrated brain science book, and worked closely on its accompanying cross-platform partnerships with Time Inc. and WebMD. She spends her off-hours curating playlists, practicing restorative yoga, and steeping new teas.