I’m sure I speak for many of us when I say that life sometimes gets to be more intense than I can handle. That’s not to say that I don’t like a full, productive life. In fact, I think I’m at my best when I operate on a packed schedule. But as much as I love to be running around and multi-tasking my brains out all day long, I’ve begun to realize that breaks are necessary from time to time.
Okay, so it wasn’t just some casual realization… It was more like a smack back to reality.
It may sound sick, but I really am at my happiest when I’m working. I enjoy work and what I do. But I tend to get too involved in my daily tasks and forget that my body and mind aren’t limitless resources that I can take advantage of nonstop. I’ve always had this need to challenge myself to see just how far I can push my own limits; it’s like I get a high off of being able to completely check off an 11-item to-do list before noon, or have a protein bar on the go instead of a nutritious lunch just to make sure I finish every one of my errands in one day. Sick, I know.
But the way I saw it, there was no rest in sight.
As a girl who wants it all and does it all, the stress of having really lofty ambitions gets to be pretty hefty. I don’t mean to downplay a man’s role in the world, but truly, women endure a tremendous amount of pressure. And this is largely due to our own expectations of ourselves: Many of us want to have a thriving career, look nicely put together at all times, (sorry, can’t say I’m terribly successful in this department!) maintain a social life, stay involved in family life, and eventually work on families of our own. We dream big, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But the key to it all is balance. Unfortunately for me, it took bouts of illness and borderline mental breakdowns to come to the conclusion that no task is more important than my well-being. For this reason, I’ve committed to taking breaks as needed; I had to tell myself that the world wouldn’t come crashing down if I just took some time for myself. I think it took me this long to realize it’s okay to take it easy because I was always so afraid that I’d fall too far behind. But again, I’m not bionic. (Although, if anyone reading this is, email me stat. I want what you’re having.) I will simply recharge my mental and physical battery so that I can continue to work the way I like: A lot. Hah.
My latest break (this past weekend, in fact) came in the form of a trip to Seattle. Washington is my kinda place; tranquility, to me, means being surrounded by nature. I indulged in a walk through Lincoln Park where all I saw were mile-high trees with beams of sunlight peeking through the leaves, narrow trails through masses of forest, and a vast, beautiful lake. Most importantly, I was among dear friends. As much as I love doing things on my own, nothing compares to spending a relaxing weekend away with people who lift you up and remind you of the good things in life.
Now, taking a break from the madness doesn’t have to mean a thousand-mile plane ride. Some of the most relaxing time off I’ve had has been when I’ve spent the day reading, shopping, and getting a massage. Sometimes even just laying around with my dogs helps me unwind better than anything! You just have to come to know yourself well enough to know what you need at any particular moment. This past weekend, I knew I needed to get away from home, work, and anything that reminded me of my daily routine and troubles. I am now home, and feeling incredibly refreshed and recharged. Sure, I may have more work than usual piled up and waiting for me, but I know that both my mind and body are ready to face any challenge after a much needed break, reveling in tranquility.