Monday, February 12, 2018

3 Reasons Why Breaks Reduce Stress

Most people would agree, a break in the routine can be a good thing. We spend hours devoting our lives to work and creative pursuits, family and community, and other required and voluntary commitments. While these are all noble, good, and necessary, we need a change of pace on occasion.

Take writing and blogging, for instance. They both require big chunks of time and energy. Inspiration and creativity are necessary too, to yield good results. When you add these activities to an already busy schedule, sometimes it's all you can do to keep up.

I think that a pause in the routine, whether a quiet afternoon alone, a long weekend or vacation, a blog break, a night out with your spouse or friends, a walk in the woods, a leisurely drive, a day trip, or whatever else you enjoy, is a good thing. Here are three reasons why: 

1) Mental and physical space are essential to function well. 

With today's technology, we're potentially connected all day, every day. There are benefits to this, but hazards as well. Do we want this connectivity and screen time to consume our waking moments? Influence relationships (or lack of them) with important people in our lives?

Real life happens to some degree on our laptops, tablets, and smartphones. If we're honest though, genuine living happens mostly apart from these devices. So we need to set boundaries and allow healthy space between us and them. We need uninterrupted time to think, to communicate in person, breathe fresh air, and see sunsets and other amazing wonders in God's creation. These are good and necessary activities that refresh, stimulate, and stretch our minds and bodies.

I read an article recently (sorry, can't recall where) that said that due to too much screen time, some adolescents have difficulty functioning in real life. They don't know how to communicate effectively or how to form and maintain relationships. They are experiencing high levels of depression and dysfunction. While there are other causes for these issues too, it's sad to see how the potential overuse of technology negatively impacts these young people.

We can't run on the hamster wheel 24/7 without feeling the effects. Setting parameters for mental and physical space will benefit our relationships, productivity, and quality of life. 

2) We need to get away to maintain health and peace.

Years ago, I heard a pastor say it's important to "Come apart, before you come apart." Being self employed for over 30 years, my husband and I've learned that this is true, and essential for our health and sanity. Getting away from the routine does wonders for one's perspective, allowing time, space, and rest to breathe and regroup. 

3) Rediscovering our creativity is a wonderful thing.

Life's constant demands can leave our creativity high and dry. I liken it to being on a treadmill. While it has its benefits, it has its limits too, and it only takes you so far. When we step off the treadmill, our world opens up, offering creative refreshment and opportunities.

While all this is nice in theory, it's harder to practice. What can we do to facilitate more breaks in our routine?

1) Just do it. 

Treat breaks like any other item on your list of commitments. From a vacation to a day off, add it to the schedule and go for it.  Be open to a spur of the moment hiatus too, once in a while, for a breather and change of scenery. Call a friend, meet for coffee, take a brisk walk, or whatever floats your boat.

2) Be purposeful.

This is your time off! Be determined and stick to it. Set boundaries, limit time on social media, do whatever is necessary to ensure that you actually get that break. Make a list if that helps, stay focused, and don't stress. Your break is intended to produce healthy benefits.

3) Get off the treadmill.

We often don't realize what we're missing until we get off. The world around us has much to offer and is worthy of exploration.

4) Remember that it'll all be there when we return.

Life as we know it will continue to move forward in our absence. And that's okay. We can jump back in when the time is right.

Speaking of breaks, I'm taking a short one next week for President's Day; will return on February 26. See you then!

How do you get a break and recharge your creativity? What kinds of breaks will you take this month? I'll be taking some walks outside to enjoy February's scenery. Anyone care to join me? :)

Happy writing,


Photo credit: Pexels


  1. That young people can't function in real life is becoming painfully obvious. It takes real people and real interaction to learn that.
    Even half a day of disconnecting makes me feel better.

  2. Breaks are important. I can't wait till the play I am producing is over in early March so I can get one. In the meantime, I'm at least not committing to more meetings or anything but work so at least I can recharge with a little break at night while I still have free nights.

  3. Absolutely! I applaud your post. Life in the small screen is not all it's cracked up to be, and it could be quite harmful when used to excess. To that end, I'm off to take a hike, then to go to a movie--a big screen with a story that I can talk about later. Thanks, Karen.

  4. Hi Karen - excellent post ... and we need to be 'human' ... interact, exercise, be sensible, keep honest with all things ... I love getting out and about - friends and family, talks, good movies, walks etc - stimulating aspects of life - just what we all need to read - cheers Hilary

  5. Breaks in our routines is TOTALLY necessary, Karen. I'm a firm believer in that, and have practiced it just recently shortly after my MIL arrived to stay with us indefinitely. She is a wonderful person, but the added stress has been challenging to say the least. Beginning this Lent, I'm intentionally setting aside quiet/solitude time every day for prayer, study and reflection. Hoping this helps!

  6. Karen: Jennifer Brown-Banks presented the idea of taking breaks around certain holidays.
    I have adopted that. However, I don't know how far to take it. I find I want to know what is going on in the lives of my friends,fellow bloggers, and authors. But the good thing is I feel refreshed when I return.

  7. Valid reminders here, Karen. Words well worth heeding.

  8. "If we're honest though, genuine living happens mostly apart from these devices." So agree. I've taken social media and my personal email off my phone so can be much more present when out with others.

  9. Alex,
    Disconnecting is something I need to do more often. Have been too connected of late. Enjoy your break! :)

    Hope all goes well with the production, and that you can enjoy that much needed break. Take care! :)

    Thanks so much. I'm glad it resonates with you too. I think we were designed to have time to process and rest, you know? :)

    Well said! Real life stuff is so important to our longevity and peace, not to mention our productivity. Hope you are finding a good balance in the new place. :)

    I know right? :) Hope things are smoothing out for all of you with your mom in law there. I understand, my mil lived with us for a stretch some years ago.

    Yes, that's always a good way to work in a break. :) I say find the balance that works for you and be flexible.

    Thanks so much! I value your insight and opinion. :)

    Happy writing,

  10. I'm at the point where I need a blog break. With family issues taking more time, the strain is starting to show.

  11. You are sooo right, Karen. In fact my husband thinks I've been working too hard. We are going away for two weeks to unwind--and be offline! We're visiting his sister in another state. Thanks for this confirmation. I’ve shared it online. All best to you!

  12. Very true. Sometimes we get so caught up in working and working hard that we don't see how much it is draining us. Breaks are so important. :)

  13. Susan,
    Yes, you should definitely take one, then! Maybe during your blogoversary month? :)

    Ooh, your trip away sounds divine! Hope you rest and recharge thoroughly. :)

    I think you are correct. It's so easy to get caught up in "busy", isn't it? Hope you have a break on the horizon! :)

    Happy writing,

  14. I've started taking at least a day a week off from screens. Sometimes I let myself watch a movie or something, but no work, and no social networking.

    Since doing that, I do feel a lot less stressed. But for some reason, it's STILL hard to do. :-/

  15. Everything you stated is 100% true! And the simple truth is that once we take that much needed break, we realize how good it is for us. We as individuals place so much stress on ourselves.

  16. Holy Cow, this post is so applicable to me right now! I have decided to take an indefinite break from blogging because I am just craving more time in my day for quiet. I think that really will be a game-changer for me. Well, at least I hope it will be.
    Thank you for the confirmation that breaks are exactly we need at times,

  17. Misha,
    That is a good plan. Perhaps I need to implement it too! :)

    This is so true - all of it! :) Breaks really need to be a regular thing.

    I applaud your decision to take a break from blogging indefinitely. I've been tempted to do the same for quite some time. Perhaps it's time. :) Wishing you much quiet and direction on your journey! :)

    Happy writing,


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