I took a break from work recently; 5 days away from social media and 12 days altogether with zero thoughts about work and… honestly? It’s been one of the best things I could have done, both personally and professionally.
As you’ll know if you follow me online, I was beginning to feel exhausted by work, including my day-job, this blog and coaching work. Marketing myself, ‘showing up’ and being consistent with my content was getting too much. So I planned a break, my first ‘proper’ break from everything (including social media) since I started Blue Jay of Happiness in 2017.
This break cemented to me just how important it is to step away from work to gain perspective and refuel creativity.
On the first day of my break I went to sit by the river here in Guildford with an iced coffee and a book in tow. As I found a spot to sit, I noticed some ducks swimming past. My first instinct was to reach for my phone, video a clip and share it on Instagram stories.
This instinct took me by surprise – I hadn’t realised quite how second-nature sharing had become for me. So, instead of getting stuck into my book straight away, I found myself rooted to the spot. I took some deep breaths, felt the sun beating down on my skin and watched as dogs, kids and ducks alike came in and out of my field of vision.
It was exactly what I needed. A moment to breathe and just be. I repeated this activity a couple of times over the Easter weekend, revelling in the glorious weather and the space I suddenly had stretched out in front of me.
The rest of my time off was spent with Dan, seeing family, reading lots of fiction (no work-related books allowed!) getting lost in travel vlogs on Youtube and getting my car cleaned. Dan and I went to Bristol to explore a new city and see one of our favourite musicians, Devin Townsend and we both left feeling suitably inspired.
As I write this, I’m back home and getting ready to make a plan of action for Blue Jay of Happiness, to do some big-picture thinking. I’m going to revisit my ‘why’ for all of this, what I’m hoping to achieve and the best ways to go about it. I’m going to sit myself in a bath and get organised for the week ahead.
And you know what – I feel excited and ready for it. That heaviness I was feeling before has lifted. My fingers have been itching to write, I hopped back onto Instagram with vigour to share our Bristol visit and my latest blog post.
When we take time like this to step back, we let the dust from our work settle. In that stillness, things come to the surface. We notice what we miss, what we’re excited to get back to and crucially, what we’re not excited to get back to.
Without the obstacles of day-to-day work, creativity has a clear run. We have time to allow ideas to percolate, marinate, embed themselves.
And this is crucial if you’re a creative. Having time off is also crucial if you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. During my break I had one evening where I got a little lost worrying about a busy month in May and felt my throat tighten with anxiety. Luckily, I managed to let go of those thoughts the next day and focused on being present.
The rest of the break was anxiety-free. My skin has cleared up, my chest hasn’t hurt and my thinking has remained slow and steady. Both my mental and physical health benefitted from the break and it’s reminded me, yet again, the importance of rest and self-care.
It’s helped me reconnect with who I am outside of work and this is so important. I hope to carry this with me as I return to work. I want to slow down, focus on the tasks and projects that bring real joy and hit pause on the ones that don’t.
I want to shrug off the ‘shoulds’ I was carrying around and do what feels good.
My break was relatively short, but the effects were pretty incredible. I hope by sharing it here, you’ll feel inspired to take more breaks. Not working is just as important as working. This is something I’ve really come to learn.
Before I go today, I wanted to share an interview I did recently for Sarah at Bide & Bloom, all about self-worth and my approach to self-care. Really enjoyed giving these questions some thought.
I hope you all have a lovely week, let me know if you have any breaks coming up in the comments section.
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