it's not selfish to take a break

Often I work with women who are burnt-out and exhausted. They tend to have many balls in the air: family, jobs, building a business, kids, housework, personal development and more.

Yet when we get onto the subject of stopping to rest, they have a lot of resistance.

Often women have the perception that everything will fall apart and others will suffer if they take time out for themselves.

I also frequently hear women berate themselves for being too exhausted to go on. They wonder why they’ve hit a wall and just can’t face doing any more. Their bodies are desperately telling them to stop, but they feel like they’re being lazy.

Get more done by doing less

Let’s be totally honest. If you were to drop all your responsibilities tomorrow, the Earth would still keep turning. If you took a day or a weekend to go on retreat or just lie in bed, other people would cope. It’s not your job to hold all the burdens of the world.

Women are cyclical beings – like everything in nature we have times we are in bloom and other times when we need to rest. Honouring your body’s need is the best way to work with these natural cycles.

When we rush around all the time we’re putting our bodies into constant fight/ flight mode. Our nervous system literally thinks we’re being chased by a sabre toothed tiger. Cortisol and adrenaline flood our bodies making it hard to relax or sleep.

It may sound counterintuitive, but by doing less you’ll ultimately have the energy to do more. I earn more now by doing what I love, spending time every day on self care and having a nap at 3pm, then I did when I worked a full-time job! I love this Zen proverb: “Meditate for an hour every day unless you’re too busy. In that case meditate for two hours.”

Ironically when we feel that we don’t have time for a break, is when it will benefit us the most. And if we don’t listen to our bodies they will often give us an injury or illness to force us to rest whether we like it or not.

Feeling guilty

One of the reasons women often don’t want to stop is because of guilt. We’ve been socially conditioned to believe that we should be busy all the time and our worth is determined by our productivity. It’s not.

You’re worthy as you are. Even if your house is a mess. Even if you forgot to respond to some emails. Even if your child has to go to school in dirty socks one day because you haven’t done the laundry. Even if you order takeaway because you’re too tired to cook.

Your number one responsibility in life is to be the best version of yourself, so that you can share your unique and precious gifts with the world. You simply can’t do that if you’re exhausted and burnout.

If you’re thinking that putting yourself first is selfish, remember that it’s only when your own cup is full that you can truly give to others from the overflow without resentment.

Meditate for an hour every day unless you are too busy. In that case meditate for two hours a day

Zen proverb

Last Saturday my cup was feeling empty. I’d had some difficult family situations going on that had drained my energy during the week. Plus I’d been out to my daughter’s school event on Friday night and was suffering from a social hangover.

So I let my partner know that I wouldn’t be joining in him for our planned meet-up with friends. Instead I sent him off to have fun and spent the day gloriously by myself.

What did I do with my time? I journaled about my feelings, I cried, I screamed into a cushion, I ate vegan chocolate, I listened to a podcast in the bath, I did yoga and meditated.

By the time my partner got home I was a new woman – relaxed, wearing a pretty dress and feeling recharged. Nothing like the grumpy tired person he had left earlier. Taking care of ourselves makes life much more pleasant for everyone around us!

So how do you know when it’s time to take a break?

10 signs you desperately need a break

  1. You find yourself snapping at your loved-ones or easily losing your temper. Then you end up feeling guilty and even worse about yourself.
  2. You feel envious or resentful when you hear about other people having a nap or going on a retreat and find yourself thinking “It’s alright for them.”
  3. Life feels like an endless treadmill and you never seem to get to the end of your ‘to do’ list.
  4. You make passive aggressive comments to the people you live with about how you’re doing everything and they never help.
  5. You’re not sleeping well (or you’re so tired you fall asleep the minute you sit down.)
  6. No matter how much you do for your child/ boss/ friend/ partner, it feels like they always have more demands.
  7. You definitely haven’t got time for a break.
  8. You feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things you need to do.
  9. You feel like if you took a break your child/ partner/ friend/ pet/ colleagues would suffer.
  10. You are totally and utterly convinced that’s there’s absolutely no possible way you can take a break.

This is your life, you get to choose how to live it. Decide not to live in victim consciousness and instead proudly and unapolgetically put yourself first. You’ll be doing the world a big favour, because it lets other women know that it’s OK and that’s how things start to change.

So repeat after me: “It’s safe for me to rest.” Now go take a nap 🙂