You need to give yourself permission to take breaks -- here's how.
I started a new job a few weeks ago, right at the busiest time of the year. I’ve been going at a breakneck pace for months now between training and actually working, and this week found myself feeling pretty overwhelmed.
Overwhelmed isn’t unusual for me — it’s par the course for any working mom. But what was unusual was the way I found myself utterly lacking the will to complete the many small but essential tasks that were piling up for me, while at the same time being short-tempered and irritable with my kids. I knew I was a little stressed, but this week realized that I’m not just a little stressed — I’m a lot stressed. I’ve got a solid four of these “8 Signs of Mental and Emotional Exhaustion” going on, and that’s no good.
You’re finding it more and more difficult to get any work done. Simple tasks suddenly seem like major projects and you lack the creativity and thought process to successfully complete anything. The job you once found stimulating now feels like a chore … You may be starting to feel hopeless, so any small comment or question can easily irritate you. You would rather avoid contact with the outside world. If possible, take a couple days off to spend time alone. A few days away from other people might be exactly what you need to recharge.
I have to admit, I laughed out loud at the idea that I should take a couple days off to spend time alone. Clearly this was not advice written by a parent.
But the diagnosis resonated with me even if the prescription didn’t fit. I am easily irritated and feeling like I want to hole up in a corner somewhere where no one can talk to me or ask me questions. However, moms don’t get weekends off.
So I decided to get a little creative and try to give myself mini-breaks this weekend. I spent 45 minutes just sitting alone in my bedroom on Friday morning, in the dark with no music and no phone or laptop, just being silent. And y’all — it. was. GLORIOUS.
I felt more recharged after that little bit of quiet time than I have in a long time. So I doubled down and spent a half-hour reading Friday afternoon — not for work or for “continuing education,” just for pleasure. Sheer, sci-fi-geekery pleasure.
And it was pleasant, but it also left me feeling more myself than I have in a while. I didn’t realize how long it’s been since I dove into a sci-fi novel just because I wanted to, and it felt good to give myself permission to do something other than work and parent.
I made time for a few more little breaks throughout the weekend, and while I’m sure I don’t feel as recharged as I would have after a three-day hiatus, I feel pretty dang recharged. More than I could have imagined.
So if you’re facing down the same stress and anxiety with the same time constraints, don’t despair. Give yourself little mini-vacations, every day — and do NOT write them off as luxuries you can skip. Self-care is more than just washing your hair, so take care of your mind and give it some rest!