We’ve all heard of the benefits of taking a break, but the quality of a break will determine whether you receive the benefits of it or not. Have you ever taken a break at work and spent the time listening to a co-worker complain about problems? You may have left that break more drained and stressed than when you started it.
For the last year and a half, I’ve had an extreme fatigue illness. Most of that time, I laid on the couch. Even a simple task like grocery shopping was way more than I could do. I filled my time with listening to and participating in audio courses. It gave me a sense of purpose and kept my mind off of my extreme exhaustion. I needed to make sure I didn’t sleep too much during the day, otherwise I would lie awake at night not being able to sleep. (I wouldn’t wish this on anyone!)
One thing I found lying on that couch was that I still needed breaks. But relaxing on the couch wasn’t really a break for me. It didn’t give me what I needed. This experience brought me to a new level of consciousness of what was important to me in a break. I realized I needed a sense of refreshment and enjoyment, but I wasn’t clear on what I could do in those circumstances to get that. I needed something that didn’t take much energy.
This is what I discovered. One way to look at a break is to ask myself whether the break is a mental or sensual experience. If I’m doing a lot of mental work, like listening to audio courses, taking a sensual break—enjoy essential oils, the smell and taste of a cup of tea, listening to music I enjoy, looking at something beautiful, or asking my husband to rub my feet—was exactly what I needed. It gave me that refreshment and enjoyment I was looking for.
My work was mental, so taking a sensual break refreshed me. But for someone who does sensual work like a massage therapist, a cook, or an artist, doing something mental—reading a book or listening to a talk—may be what refreshes them.
So if you’re finding that even though you take breaks you’re not feeling that balance you would expect, experiment with whether you’re needing a sensual or mental activity for your break.