Take Five! 5 Reasons & Creative Ways to Take a Break

I Took a Break

For the month of July I took a break from SpeakArtLoud work. I limited my time on Twitter, held back on posts to Facebook, did not write blogs, delayed work on our program planning and even conducted our quarterly board meeting via email.

Taking a break is important.  I know that, I’m sure you know that, but taking a break is not always easy to do, at least for me.  

I like working, I like the feeling of accomplishing something, and I especially enjoy working on SpeakArtLoud.

However, taking a break is good for the mind, body and spirit.  Taking a break – whether that break is a vacation away, an evening off, or an extra 15 minutes over morning coffee – time away from your normal routine and responsibilities is invaluable.

5 Reasons to Take a Break – Taking a break is an important part of self care and can help to stimulate your creative energy. Here are five reasons why you should take a break.

  1. Be Happy Taking a break can help reduce stress and can give you a chance to do things you enjoy, perhaps things you do not always have time for.  Do not down play the importance of happiness, happy people live longer and are healthier.
  2. Increase ProductivityAfter taking a break you come back refreshed and able to offer more energy to your work. It is amazing what a week off or even just a long lunch can do. Time away allows us to both rest and be stimulated.
  3. Remember What You Love Sometimes time away can help you fall back in love with what you are doing. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, you know.  Or time away may be just what you need to help you reconnect with your true passion and inspire you to pursue a new path.  Either way, time away can help you remember what it is you truly care about giving your time and energy to.
  4. Get UnstuckTime off can help you generate new ideas. Doing the same thing or keeping a routine is comfortable but you can soon find yourself in a rut. Try taking a break, or just changing your routine, as this can help generate fresh ideas. 
  5. Balance – Finding balance is something I struggle with personally.  Its easy to get gung-ho about something you love but it is important to break and remember that family, friends, exercise and hobbies are important parts of our lives.  Take time to enjoy all of who you are.

5 Creative Ways to Take a Break – We do not always have the opportunity to take a vacation, or completely step away from our daily responsibilities.  Sometimes you need to be creative in how you take a break.  Here are 5 ways that you can easily take a break, no vacation time required.

  1. Get Crafty – No serious art skills are needed, just some paper, pencils, scissors, tape or similar supplies.  Keep it simple, just spend a few minutes being creative.  When I’m feeling stuck at the office I get creative with a bit of white-out, colored sharpies and out-of- date promotional magnets.
  2. Look at Vacation Photos – Pull out the photo album or open the electronic file with your last vacation pictures and look at the pictures.  Heck, you don’t even need to look at your pictures, go to Flickr, breeze through someone else pics and imagine your self away for a few minutes.
  3. Doodle – Just let your pen go! Don’t think too hard, don’t worry about drawing something specific – just follow the line.  This is a great way to take a mini-break.
  4. Take a Nap – It doesn’t need to be a long nap, a cat-nap will do, but catch a few extra minutes of shut eye and let your mind and body rest.  Sleep is healing!
  5. Flower Power – Take a walk and pick a handful of flowers from various spots along the way, folks usually don’t mind if you take only one or two cuttings from their garden.  Arrange the flowers with some added greenery and enjoy.  You get double points for this one because of the added value walking offers.

What I Learned From My Break

This break helped me to understand how important time off is and that I need to take time for myself.

Initially I felt guilty about taking time away from SpeakArtLoud. This is work I care about and I feel a sense of responsibility to those who support us.

With some time away, I soon recognized that I was stressed, I was tired and I needed this time off.  I did not realize that earlier, it was only with time away that recognized how I was feeling.

During my time off I came up with some new ideas for SpeakArtLoud. I have a clearer vision of the steps we need to take over the next year and I am excited about sharing my ideas with the board in September at our annual meeting. Without the time and room to think I do not believe I would have had the same insight.

Further Inspiration – If you are looking for further inspiration or ideas for taking a break here are some useful sites:


Creating a Culture of Wellness

This week has been especially busy – a conference, a board meeting and all of the usual day-job and home life responsibilities. I found myself feeling tired, spread too thin, and struggling to find balance. This sparked something for me and I have been mulling over how best to care for myself while trying to do good work.

Doing good is its own reward. Right?

At the ReVisioning Value conference Keynote speaker Dan Pallotta spoke on the constraints placed on non-profits, from limits on advertising to the expectation of low wages for employees, and argued that this frugality seriously hampers the ability of non-profits to have a meaningful, lasting impact. You can read more about this in his book “Uncharitable”.

His presentation was interesting but what I centered in on was reference to the popular notion that those who work toward the greater good are rewarded by the very fact that they get to do good work.

The culture of activism expects us to give too much.

Then, in the moving piece “What’s the Point of the Revolution if We Can’t Dance” from World Pulse magazine, stress, burn-out and need for self-care among those working for social change is discussed.

The article calls for those who work in the field to openly talk about stress, sorrow and the burdens of difficult work. The author challenges us to challenge the system.

Be Well.

Doing well while doing good is the new mantra of the non-profit community.  But what about being well? Have we forgotten to take care of ourselves?

What happens when those of us who are working toward social change, healing, and the well-being of others get tired?  Do we follow our own advice?  If so, how do we care for ourselves?  How do we care for one another?

Self-Care is Essential.

I know that I have a few things that I do that are helpful.

  • Art – It is no surprise that I find art to be a healthy and healing activity. I like working with pastels, they are very forgiving and sometimes just blending the colors relaxes me.
  • Read – Reading a novel helps me to relax and let go.  I just finished The Girl With Glass Feet and this story truly transported me to a different place.
  • Plan to Not Work – Having a day job and developing SpeakArtLoud means that my brain is almost always “on”, scheduling time to not work has been essential.

And, if I’m going to be honest, there are a few things that I am not very good at.

  • Asking for Help – I almost never do this and when I do it usually means I’ve reached a breaking point.  I do not know how to ask for help.
  • Not Working – I know I said that I plan time to not work, and I do, but if I have not planned to not work then you can bet that I am working.  It is hard for me to turn my mind off when.

Creating a Culture of Wellness

As I continue my work on SpeakArtLoud I want to walk my talk.  I want to be as well in my own body, mind and spirit as possible so that I am best able to help others.

I would like to add a few new things – meditation, yoga, different types of art – but have yet to do so.  I would also like to build a stronger support system and learn how to ask for help, but I am struggling with this.

Now, I want to ask you for your thoughts on this.

  • How do you deal with stress?
  • What keeps you going?
  • What tools do you use to support yourself?
  • How do you ask for help?

Most importantly, how can we create a culture of wellness that nourishes and supports those who are working toward the greater good?

Please, share you ideas!