When you’re working so hard, you actually forget to rest (my dog does not have this problem!)

When you’re doing any kind of creative work–

whether it’s writing a novel or painting a picture, 

or solving complicated technical problems, 

or raising children, 

or working hard on your own personal growth and development,

or anything else that stretches your mind and spirit and body–

it’s so important to take breaks along the way and let yourself rest.

We all know this, right? We all know we’re supposed to take breaks, relax, wind down, so we can come back fresh and inspired.

And yet, it can be really hard to put into practice. To actually rest, rather than just think about resting. 

This weekend, I was doing some intensive work updating my website to make it more colorful and better organized. 

After about two hours of creating background images in Canva and adding them to my website, then fiddling with the sections, so that the background images and text sections flowed just right, I was feeling a little vibrate-y, like all the cells in my body were moving a little too fast. 

But I was so excited that I’d been able to take the images I saw in my mind and make them happen on the page! I still had a lot to do and I was in the flow, so I kept going. 

After another hour, my right hand was starting to hurt from all the typing and mousing. I stopped for a little to stretch, but then plunged right back into it. 

In the back of my mind, I knew I was overdoing it a little, and I really should probably take a break. But I so wanted to finish my project! 

I was feeling a real tension between taking some immediate rest, on the one hand, and chasing the deeper sensation of rest I can only access when I get a big project completely done. And this time around, I let getting the project done win out over resting in the moment. 

When I finally finished the website updates, I felt so excited and happy that I had brought my vision to life! (Feel free to check out the new home page if you want.)

But that night, I dreamed compulsively about website edits all night long, or so it felt. My mind, it seemed, couldn’t let itself set down the project and rest. And the next day, my hand was still sore from so much computer work.

I was a wee bit out of balance. I’d gone too far in the direction of getting things done.

So this week, I’m going to be focused on taking more rest breaks–not just on my formal days off, but even and especially on my regular work days. For me, that looks like: 

  • Starting the day with a cup of tea, couch time with my dog, and a few games on my phone
  • At lunchtime, eating lunch away from my desk and reading a fun book for a few minutes
  • Throughout the day, taking lots of micro-pauses to just breathe for a few seconds
  • And remembering to stop for the day before I’m exhausted, whenever I possibly can. 

This last one is surprisingly tricky for me. Years of working long hours got me used to ending every day exhausted, and it feels weird to stop before that point. But I’m learning. 

By the way, I know I’m extremely lucky to be able to plan my day in this way. If you don’t have that luxury, I see you too. And I hope you’ll find and celebrate whatever moments of rest and freedom are available to you.  

That’s all for this week, except my wholehearted wish that you’ll have a good week, with satisfying work and as many moments of rest as you need. 

Oh, and my dog Marina adds her encouragement too. Or she will, as soon as she wakes up from her nap!

My dog resting as I work
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