3 awesome reasons to take your breaks – even if you don’t want to

With my daughter’s daycare on its annual week-long break, I’m nearing the end of my “forced” vacation. I have a lot going on. I can’t afford this time away from my work. And yet, this break has been the best thing for me right now. For many high achievers, breaks can be tough to take. Here are three reasons to take that break and feel good about it even if you don’t want to.

Take your break in this lovely hammock

Image by Travel & Shit adapted and used with permission.

1. Rest = energy. Breaks = productivity.

For many people who find themselves in burnout, it’s because they failed to take a break. Breaks are good and important. Yet, when we’re running behind, it feels like we can’t afford to spend the time resting. It feels like we’ll only fall that much further behind.

In fact, the opposite is true. We can’t afford NOT to take that break. As I shared in last week’s post, research shows that those who took breaks every hour and a half were more focused than others who took only one or no breaks. From my own experience, when I didn’t take breaks – either the small ones sprinkled throughout the day or the restful multi-day holidays – I got more and more exhausted. I told myself if I pushed through, I could catch up. It was not a successful strategy.

2. The bigger picture emerges

We get perspective on what we’re doing. When we’re buried deeply within our work, we get stuck in the details, the day to day. Coming up for air not only helps us to rest, but it also gets us out of the muck. The distance helps us see the bigger picture and tie the details to the grand vision. It’s like working with a jigsaw puzzle. In my family, it’s tradition to complete a puzzle every Christmas. Over the years I have learned that if I’m not getting any more pieces in, I need to step away, sip some nog, and come back to the table after a break. Every time I do, I find lots of new pieces to place, and usually the one that had been eluding me. It’s almost like magic.

3. Creativity soars

We think of things that we don’t when we’re working hard. Again, the details of the day-to-day grind get in our way. Because we spend most of each day going from task to task, our brains are occupied with the “get it done” stuff. When we relax, our minds freely wander where they will. We experience a-has and epiphanies. Case in point: it’s said that Archimedes had his eureka moment relaxing in the tub.

Bonus: Laugh your way to feeling better

We need to laugh as much as we can on our breaks and in between. As Milton Berle said, “Laughter is an instant vacation.” Research backs this up. Laughter relieves stress, improves moods and immune function, and boosts energy. Even if we fake our laughter. So when we’re in a place where we need to force ourselves to break and feel resentful or guilty, laugh. Even if you don’t feel like it. You’ll end up feeling better.


I’m on a mission to keep people from hitting burnout and to restore balance in their lives. Help me by sharing this post.

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