Hands calling a time out

Taking Time Out

Suffering from chronic insomnia commonly leads to chronic exhaustion. Or, in my case, periods of hypermania quickly followed up by exhaustion.

To address mental and physical fatigue, I recently took a month off. I highly recommend it. A break from everything I could break from – paid work, not paid work, housework. Anything that felt like work. While my sleep did not improve in this time, my frame of mind did.

Where are opportunities for breaks?

I am cognisant of the fact that many of you cannot just ring the boss and say, “Hi! I won’t be in for the next month!” I am indeed in the privileged position of being able to take time off. But even so, there are a lot of things in our life that feel a lot like hard work that we can take a break from as much as is humanly possible.

Any time you dread going out the door to face an activity, consider whether or not you can possibly get out of the commitment for the next month.

It's okay to say no to friends

Socialising with friends can reinvigorate us and allow time to debrief on stressors in our lives. But sometimes, the thought of having to engage in conversation is exhausting. It is okay to say no to coffee dates when you’re tired.

Allow your mind and body to rest

Active pastimes like sports, hiking, dancing, and gym are all so great for our physical and mental health. They are important activities to include in our everyday lives. But it’s also okay to have a rest and skip a few weeks to allow your mind and body to rest and recuperate.

Let others step forward

Community service and volunteering are wonderful ways to give back to society and engender a sense of belonging and purpose. Helping people can help us in so many ways. But when we constantly give ourselves away, eventually, we can end up with nothing to give. It is okay to pull back for a little while and let someone else step forward to offer up their strengths and talents.

Rejoin clubs feeling more refreshed

Chess club, book club, music club, knitting club, ceramics club. All the clubs that fulfill our innermost desire to be creative or intellectual. To feed the things that we love just for the love of it. Sometimes taking a break can leave us fully refreshed and ready to pick things up again in a few weeks’ time. It is okay to rest for a minute.

Some housework can be left alone

As far as housework goes, it’s a balancing act between what’s going to cause stress and what can be let go of for a while. Personally, I don’t want to live in a house with an unclean toilet, but the dusting and windows can be left alone for a while. (I confess, they’ve been left alone for a very long time...)

What will reinvigorate you?

On the flip side of resting is doing the things we love. Only you can know what will reinvigorate you – more or less. For me, it’s less of everything - more time with my feet up reading a book, less time socialising and vacuuming. For you, it might be more cups of tea and gardening.

It is so important to find the things that rest not just our bodies but our minds as well. For those of us suffering from chronic sleep deprivation, we need to pay even greater attention to how we rest our mind and body – because the rest is often not happening during the night.

What will lighten your load?

Lockdowns all over the world have forced many people into changed routines. Maybe this is you. Perhaps rest has been forced upon you, or maybe your stress levels have been pushed even higher. Taking the time to work out the things that will lighten our load can rejuvenate.

Is it searching inwards and practicing meditation? Is it reaching out and doing more baking? We’re all individuals – in our physical and psychological health, wellbeing, happiness, and healing.

So how do you look after yourself? What are the things in your life you can take a break from, and what do you need more of? How are you going to care for yourself today?

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