Last week, I took a day off of work, spent most of the morning and part of the afternoon reading a book, and the rest of my waking hours watching TV, playing with my puppy, talking with friends, and resting.
This was the first time I’d spent an entire guilt-free day like this in a long time.
I do not always practice what I preach. That will not surprise most of you. I work too much. I usually don’t mind. But after a few months of working 7 days a week without breaks, you start to get tired. Your productivity starts to slow down. Your energy and motivation start to fizzle out.
It starts to get harder to drag yourself out of bed in the morning. The work you normally love … well, you don’t love it so much all of a sudden.
You’re not sad or anything.
You’re just really, really tired.
At least, that’s how I felt. Until I took a day off.
It was like I slammed my first down on a reset button, and everything changed for the better.
One day? Is that really all it takes?
For me, maybe. One good night’s sleep, one day away from a screen, a desk, a structured schedule. That might not be enough for some people. They might need three days or a week.
I was amazed, though, at how differently I felt the day after my day of rest. Suddenly, it was a lot easier to come up with new ideas. I felt more motivated, and energized, to do my work. I missed being able to relax, but who wouldn’t?
I won’t exaggerate and say I was looking forward to jumping back into my work. But it was definitely a lot easier, and I didn’t feel like I had to drag myself out of bed to start the day (I mean, besides the fact that it’s in the 30s (F) now when I get up and that’s not fun, ever).
You can’t expect everything to be fixed in just one day. But whether you’re religious or not, there’s a reason a day of rest was built into the Jewish and Christian cultures way back then. We’re not built to spend all our waking hours working. It isn’t good for us.
I suppose, however you use your downtime, what matters most is that you’re using it. Whether it takes one day or many days, we all need rest. Whether you plan ahead or make it spontaneous, your mind and body need some time to recharge. Without work, without screens, without social media or stress.
You’ll be glad you took a break. Just make sure you remember to come back from it eventually.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.