Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

Take a Break Before You Burn Out

Sleeping Lion I teach one or two online courses each season, write on my blog, connect and share on social media, and learn via the internet.  That’s a big chunk of time online.  Sometimes, all the connectivity becomes too much for me.

Whether you’re working online or off, overworking leads to burnout.

I’m relatively good at taking breaks, easing stress, and meditating regularly, but I still hit my edge at times.  I’d like to share what I’ve learned and continue to learn so you can avoid burnout too.

Know Your Warning Signs of Burnout

We’re all very different when it comes to the signs of burnout, but these are the ones that appear for me, and sing out “danger” loud and clear:

  • I suddenly feel like I want to hide in a cave, and never see the internet ever again.
  • I close my computer and warn others I want to be left alone.
  • If they don’t leave me alone, I become thorny.  I know, very enlightened!  I’m less thorny than ever, but it can still happen.

You need to know and heed your own warning signs so you don’t keep going and burn out.  If you don’t, your body steps up the game to get your attention.  Here are just some of the signs that indicate stress may be overtaking your life:

  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Gut distress
  • Feeling agitated, frustrated, or moody
  • Aches and pains
  • Inability to focus
  • Worry
  • Forgetfulness

What are your warning signs that it’s time for a break?

Short Breaks Mean More Ease

As a preventative measure, be sure you take regular, short breaks.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Hugging your partner and saying, “I love you”
  • Sitting in the sun
  • Eating a healthy snack like an apple
  • Taking a bath
  • Putting your hands on your chest or belly and feeling the breath flow in and out
  • Practicing mindfulness meditation
  • Playing with your dog; petting your cat
  • Taking a walk
  • Chatting with a friend
  • Exercising
  • Enjoying a cup of tea
  • Looking out the window

Take 5 minutes every hour.  Or 20 minutes to really rejuvenate.  Or a mix of both.  And, don’t forget that lovely lunch hour.  They must have called it an “hour” for a reason! Experiment and find out what works for you.

Do you take regular breaks?  What are your favorite breaks?

When You Need a Bigger Break

Even when I take regular, short breaks and the weekends off, I sometimes still get to the “it’s all too much” level, especially after a long project.  When that happens I need a bigger break:  1 or 2 days off.

I definitely listen to the call, and enjoy simply being or mindless activities for awhile, like:

  • Indulging in quiet
  • Sleeping
  • Meditating more than usual
  • Catching up on the small practical things that I’ve put to the side like scheduling a dental appointment or decluttering
  • Engaging in what enriches me like reading a few chapters in a book, visioning an element of my business, or journaling

If you don’t want to burnout for good, it’s important to take a bigger break when you’ve reached your edge, or at the end of an intensive project.

Do you take bigger breaks?  What do you do during a bigger break?

Is There Something Blocking You from Taking a Break?

If you’re not able to pause for a short break or take a few days off, chances are something deeper is keeping your nose to the grindstone.  And, this could really lead you to ill health or burnout if left interrupted.  Could it be:

  • Perfectionism
  • Feeling driven to meet other people’s expectations
  • Fear in one of its many forms:  insecurity, fear of the future, financial fear, fear of loss, etc.
  • Competitiveness
  • The need for affirmation
  • Busyness

Or another long-held habit or belief?

If that’s the case, the first step is to recognized where the blockage is.  This could feel painful at first, but it’s so very worth it to be honest with yourself.  We all have challenging patterns so you’re not alone.  And, you’ll feel so much better when you start to break the habit apart.

Once you know the challenge, you can begin to undo it bit by bit.  These articles will help you understand how to change deceptive brain messages, and employ willpower to make a positive change.

Start small.  Just try out a 5-minute break at first.

Objections may arise in your mind like being too busy. Tell yourself:  “I really do have time for a break.  It will actually help me be more productive and stay focused.  Working non-stop will only decrease my effectiveness and dampen my spirit.”

Whatever the objection, create a positive antidote of your own.

Falling into your bed exhausted every night is no way to live.  You deserve to take relaxing and rejuvenating breaks  Breaks are one of the best ways to ease your stress, and jump start your joy.  Are you ready to begin?

Where do you stand when it comes to taking breaks?  Have you been chained to your work, or do you release yourself now and then?

Tired of feeling stressed out? My signature e-course – Living with Ease, The Mindful Way to Dissolve Stress – offers a complete road map to dissolving stress and preventing it from overpowering you again. That means more joy, happiness, and ease! Take a peek and see if it’s a good fit for you.

I’m so glad you’re here! If you liked this article, please subscribe for free updates by email. And, it helps so much when you take a moment to share my posts.  Thank you! With love, Sandra

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14 Comments

  1. Hi Sandra,

    There was a time when exhaustion had become a way of life but it is good that we have woken up to the need for breaks. You have suggested very simple ways, which all of us have a time for…some of them part of our daily routine!

    Besides rejuvenating, breaks give us a time for ourselves, to talk to our inner self, to listen to music, to take stock of our achievements, to renew our ties and to be with nature! The long break is really relaxing and fills us with more energy and eagerness to get back to our work with dedication.

    Thanks Sandra, for reminding us how breaks can be incorporated into everyday routine, effortlessly.

    • It’s so true, Balroop! We’re almost expected to be exhausted. I love your suggestions for how breaks can give us time for ourselves and to connect with our inner self.

  2. Hi Sandra, Great post with lots of helpful tips and reminders. Yes, it’s easy to push too far. And I constantly feel the draw of connecting on social media and yet I’m not sure it’s really worth the time and effort. I might be better off taking breaks and connecting with live people!

    thanks, Brad

    • Hi Brad,

      I’m glad you raised this challenge of feeling the draw of connecting on social media. I think social media speaks to deep needs within ourselves. If we can find other ways to fulfill these needs, like connecting with people live, it might lose its lure a bit. This is an important area for reflection.

  3. I find I am better at listening to those signs that I need a break. And now I am retiring at the end of Feb…the biggest break of all!!

    • I’m so happy to hear that you are better at listening to the signs of needing a break. Retirement offers new challenges! With your beautiful garden, I’m sure you will use it well.

  4. Hi Sandra…great post. Last week I needed to take a break. I was trying to do too much and something had to give, so I took a step back from my blog. It was really, really hard. I felt as if I was letting my readers down, but I simply couldn’t keep up. Sometimes we just have to give ourselves permission to rest… I just wish that decision was a little easier for me. I guess that is something inside of me that needs a readjustment.

    • Hi Sharon,

      I completely understand how you feel! I’m really glad you took a step back from your blog for a short while. Most readers won’t mind and, in fact, will fully support you.

      Changing our deepest patterns takes time! The fact that you were able to take a break says so much about how well you are doing.

  5. Thank you Sandra for some wonderful ideas on what burnout might look like. It’s something we probably don’t recognize soon enough. I find I have to do the 5 minutes every hour even if I only get up and move around or just stare out the window and listen to the birds. Oftentimes my best ideas come when I’m in that space.

    Sometimes I just need to stop and ask myself why am I doing this…usually faffing around on social media…certain that when I have to ask myself that, the answer tends not to be very positive! So my 55 minutes online is over and I’m off to go and smell the roses or connect to a real person. 😉

    Thanks again Sandra.

    • Dear Elle,

      This is such an interesting point about how your best ideas come when you give yourself break. I tend to have quite a deep creative well. But, I notice it starts to dry out if I work too much or am online too much. That’s a wake up call for me.

      Thanks for sharing how you take a break. That’s a powerful question we can ask ourselves at least once a day! I appreciate it.

  6. Jean Sampson

    Perfect timing, Sandra! I have worked so hard for the last month and on Wednesday, I am taking the entire day off and getting some great body work done! I will have taught my classes for the week and put up (and been in charge of hanging and organizing) two huge art shows, and now I am ready to do my OWN work. I have to say that I am really ready for that break!

    • You so deserve it, Jean. I hope you enjoy every minute of that luscious body work and the rest of your day off too! Congratulations on a fruitful month.

  7. Cindy

    So glad I found your blog. I fit everyone of the signs you listed for burnout. I was becoming aware of this on my own but this really confirmed what I knew. Thank you so much for your enlightening article.

    • You are so welcome, Cindy! I’m glad you found this information now and hope you will find good ways to nourish and rejuvenate yourself. You deserve it!

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