Allow Yourself to Rest Every Once in a While and See What Happens

Why we shouldn’t feel guilty about taking a day off (even during the pandemic)

“Each person deserves a day in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” -Maya Angelou

Whenever I’d work on something during the weekends — for school, work or my own personal goals— I felt super productive but also super burnt out.

Sometimes you can’t avoid working on weekends: either your job requires it or you need to meet a deadline.

For me, though, working on the weekends was mostly a conscious decision. I like being productive: I’m constantly taking classes to develop my knowledge and skills, or often working on writing projects. Keeping busy is also a good way of distracting myself from unpleasant emotions or situations, so productive weekends have easily become my default way of living.

I’d go into work on the weekends to get ahead for Monday mornings. I’d use the weekends to watch tutorials on InDesign and practice using the software. And I’d sit at my computer all Saturday or Sunday, writing for nearly the entire day.

On paper this kind of productivity looks great.

But not when it comes at the cost of taking time out to relax and recharge.

I’m all for putting in the hard work and hours when called for — but I’ve also come to realize how crucial it is to step back from everything and just relax.

To do stuff for the sake of pure enjoyment and fun.

Without goals and end results in mind.

During this pandemic, I’ve made sure to especially keep myself busy to ward off feelings of boredom, loneliness and helplessness. It’s all too easy to feel helpless and overwhelmed by the constant stream of news we’re receiving these days. One major way I’ve kept myself occupied is by writing articles for Medium and other platforms. It was only during this past week that I realized how stressed out I was getting over my writing productivity and output.

As much as I love writing, it becomes less enjoyable when I get too caught up in the numbers: the writing hours I’ve put in, the number of articles I’ve written, the amount of money I’ve made, etc.

I realized I’d lost sight of the joy of creating.

So I decided to mostly step back from my writing this weekend and just focus on relaxing.

It wasn’t easy — I’m accustomed to jotting my ideas down in the Evernote app and checking Medium notifications on my phone. But I cut myself some slack whenever I checked my phone, staying aware of my habit and reigning in my temptation as best I could.

I haven’t really done any busy work this weekend (aside from writing this article) and it feels great.

On Friday night, I helped my sister make a delicious Fettuccine Alfredo. I don’t cook as much as I should but whenever I do, I remember how much it helps me practice mindfulness.

And mindful activity is something that’s had a positive impact on me as an introvert — from reminding me to slow down to helping me live more fully in the present.

On Saturday night I spent some time out on the patio with my family. We talked, played fetch with my brother’s dog in the backyard and watched the sky glow with electric pink clouds as the sun set.

And today I spent the morning reading for hours. I forgot how good it feels to get lost in a book. I can’t remember the last time I spent so many hours reading but it’s renewed my love for the fantasy genre and for writing in general.

Maybe you feel the same way but these days I almost feel guilty for taking a break.

But it’s actually more important now than ever to take breaks. As outlined in this CNBC article by Vicky McKeever, taking time off right now might fall low on our list of priorities, especially with wage cuts and job losses.

And some people are actually working more now than ever, especially if they’re employed in healthcare, service or education fields, working from home and/or taking care of children, or caring for sick and/or elderly relatives.

In the CNBC article, Simmy Grover, a lecturer on organizational psychology at University College London, says that we must mentally detach from work on our days off, especially on the weekends, so that we’re well-rested when returning to work.

Since I’ve treated my weekend like an actual weekend I’ve noticed that I’m now more refreshed, inspired and ironically, more productive with my writing.

So take time out for yourself whenever you can, even if it’s just for five minutes. I realize that not having major responsibilities such as caring for children or working on the front lines of this pandemic gives someone like me more time than others have for rest. But it’s so crucial for all of us to take the time out we need, when and if possible.

It’s important for your mental well-being and will give you the rest you need during these times full of stress and uncertainty. Just as Maya Angelou says, we all deserve time to withdraw from our troubles and cares.

You’ll probably feel calmer, happier and more energetic after a well-deserved rest.

And who knows?

Maybe you’ll rediscover your love for an old hobby or remember how good it feels to slow down and just be…

Communications and digital marketing professional, interested in creativity, personal development and mindful living.

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