"Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you."
- Anna Lamott
Taking a break is a simple concept yet, it is something I find very challenging to do. I know the benefits of what taking a break can do but, even though that I have that knowledge I still find myself in a constant state of working. The thing is I am the kind of person who enjoys working and enjoys the productivity that goes with work. I find a lot of fulfillment in work and when I indulge in it, I really indulge in it. I am proud of my work ethic and how I work but, I end up working until I am so tired that I really need to take a minute to catch my breath.
When I think about how I work I find that I relate a lot to Leslie Knope in the episode of "Camping" in season three of Parks and Rec. In this episode, Leslie Knope believes she will never produce an idea better than the Harvest Festival which was an insanely successful idea. She feels stuck and is working harder to get the next great idea. In order to get her spark back, she sets up a camping trip for the Parks and Rec department. On this outing, Leslie is drawing a blank and can't get the idea. When the camping trip goes south, the crew found their way to a little bed and breakfast where Leslie disclosed to Ron that she feels stuck. Subsequently, Ron locks Leslie in a closet and tells her to sleep because she compromises her sleep schedule in order to be productive. Ultimately, Leslie finally gets some shut-eye and in the morning she is filled to the brim with many bright ideas.
I know you may have not asked for the entire episode recap but, I gave it to you anyways. Did I give it to you because I love Parks and Rec? Yes. Did I also give it to you for reasons other than that? Yes. Like I said before, I find myself in a similar habit as Leslie Knope. I found that when the moment I am struck with creativity I work endlessly on that project that is in my mind. I work until I can see it to completion. Even when I am doing something else, a small part of my mind is on it. Eventually, I work and work and work until that is all I am thinking about. I indulged in this because I was passionate about it but, in the end, a piece of me begins to get tired. I try to start a new project and find that I can't. I can't find my new spark of creativity. I try to do the activities that allow inspiration to strike but, it doesn't.
After many tries of looking for inspiration, I have to force myself to go to sleep and to take a break much like what Ron did for Leslie. The only thing that is different is that I have to act as both Ron and Leslie in my situation. When I hit a mental brick wall, I try to work harder and not smarter. What would be smarter for me to do is to take a minute, unplug, and take a breath. That break, even if it might just be for a day or two, will reignite me. I get caught up in the mindset that I always must be productive and that if I am not I am losing time. The thing is play and unproductivity is important for success because it is a moment for me to listen to my body. I need to listen to what my body needs at times to be able to do what I want to do.
I know I struggle with taking breaks but, I know that it is something that I need. Having this knowledge is highly valuable and will do me great justice in the future. From here on out, I will always make a point to stop and take a breath. I will check-in with myself and see if I need a minute to unplug. That minute might just help me get the train moving again without any issues. Don't forget to "Take a Breath, Take a Break."
*The trees take a break in the winter to come back beautiful in the spring. Snow days are days created to give you a break, even if you didn't ask for it.