Basics of Self-Care Breaks

I apologize for being absent as of late.  I have been so busy with work, appointments, the holiday, etc.  When I have not been busy, I have been taking time to simply take a break.  Much, much needed breaks.  For me, breaks are essential because I get easily worn down both physically and emotionally.  I need time during activities and for a day or two in between activities to just have rest.  Rest for me includes a lot of alone time.

I have developed this skill of self-care breaks over time.  It is not always easy given that I am not always able to leave parties or find a good spot to just be alone.  Also, there may not be days where I get to rest in between my schedule.  Regardless of the situation, it is important to take breaks anyways.  Make the time for your self-care.  Ensure the breaks are well-balanced between not too little and not too much.  Lastly, get the most you can from the time and space you have to work with, especially if it is not ideal.

As I mentioned, there are a few basic kinds of breaks (with some overlaps of course).  The first is a “time-out”.  Second is naps.  The third is a “day off”.  There also may be others that you have in your recovery/self-care skills, so do not be limited by my short list of these three.  Here’s how each of these work:

1. Time-Out

  • A time-out is walking away temporarily from a stressful, emotionally, and/or overwhelming event such as a party, dinner, a sporting event, or shopping.  I find this is best done when I can find an alone, quiet spot.  However, it is not always possible.  If there is no alone, quite spot, then find the spot that is most comfortable for you.  Maybe even plan it ahead of time, which I do frequently, especially to parties.
  • In the time-out, take the time to calm yourself, collect your thoughts, and avoid impulsive decisions.  This is your time to breathe and be ready to get back to whatever activity you are at.  Be mindful of your thoughts and remember this is not about rumination but about calming and refocus yourself to be able to rejoin the party.  Sometimes when I am worked up in a time-out, I will listen to music, Facebook, and watch cute cat videos on YouTube (because that is how I roll).  If there is something you have that is calming such as reading, then be sure to have that available at events you know where you will need a time-out.

2. Naps

  • Naps are so awesome for so many reasons.  According to the Mayo Clinic, the benefits of napping include relaxation, the reduction of fatigue, increased alertness, and improved mood.  The other benefit (though this is mostly personal) is being able to nap with my kitty.  I would be this is true for any pet owner.
  • The Mayo Clinic adds that naps are best done when short (10-30mins) or you will likely be more groggy, when taken in the afternoon to not interfere with nighttime sleep though it also depends on your personal sleep schedule, and when you have a comfortable, quiet, dark room to sleep in.  If you do not follow these Mayo Clinic suggestions, do not get upset with yourself.  It is okay to take the time you need, but still be mindful on your napping.  It is important to keep an eye on how much rest you need, if you are getting enough, or if you are getting too much.
  • Naps can also work as a time-out.  There are times when I am so exhausted from a full day and then going to another activity where I am stressed that I need to go take a nap, for example.  Sometimes these are unplanned in which I have to improved a space and other times they are planned in which I have a space picked out for naps and time-outs.  If it is not too hot or cold, I would suggest the car as a great napping area.  It is not always the most comfortable, but it is generally quiet.  I usually have a few blankets stashed in mine, so I am extra comfortable.  See what is the right option for you.

3. Day Off

  • A day off is exactly how it sounds–a day off.  The definition of a day off will vary for everyone.  My personal days off include lots of Netflix, some video games, maybe the beach (if I want to leave the house), time with my kitty, and general no-work day.  I allow myself a day (or half-day if that is what I have) to rest, relax and not have to do anything.  I do not schedule anything either.  It is a do-whatever-I-want day.  For you, a day off may include some of these things.  You may decide a day off includes leaving your house, too.  Whatever is most relaxing, restful, rejuvenating, and not a have-to/work-related activity is perfect for a day off.  Trust me, letting yourself watch movies on Netflix for one day will not rot your brain, especially since there are now TED talks on it!
  • Naps are great for a day off, too.  (Naps are great for everything IMO!)  It is about a day of rest, so rest!  Allow yourself to have that time and the day to rest and relax because you need it, deserve it, and care for your mind, body, and soul.

What kind of breaks do you take?  What do you enjoy doing during rest and relaxation?

2 thoughts on “Basics of Self-Care Breaks

  1. Kristin,

    I LOVE the nap piece! Any day I am able to go to my dim room and snuggle with my extra soft purring cat I am in heaven. I will actually think to myself how awesome that moment right then is! Ahhh bliss! I would really like to take a day off. It just really seems impossible! How often are you able to do this for yourself?

    -Kristy

  2. As often as possible, but at least a half day a week since I make my schedule that way. I schedule myself so that Mondays are appointments and then the rest of the day is a day off. I usually try to sneak in another day during the week as well, but I do not always get a chance. I recognized early on that I needed to take a break after my appointments (whether it is one or more), so I put them all in the same day and take the rest of the day to refocus and calm myself for the next day. For me, it works really well.
    Planning a day off or a break for yourself ahead of time may help. I know you must have a crazy schedule to work with. You could also catch little breaks here and there by giving yourself extra time when you are out and about places. It may not be ideal, but it is still a few extra minutes to yourself.

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