Lessons from Taking a Break

I’m baaacccckkk!  It’s been a little over a month since I last posted and shared with you that I desperately needed a break.  

My plan was to take July off and let my brain relax. I had spent the past 7-8 months working non-stop with my full time job, coaching school, and taking on some amazing comp clients to start gaining experience as a coach (not to mention also trying to maintain this blog and run my Facebook Group!).

Up until now, every night was filled with calls, class, or appointments.  Weekends also usually had a few calls and if I wasn’t doing that, I was catching up on website/blog work.  Basically, I hadn’t had a break in months and I was working ~15 hours a day, 6 days a week. 

Needless to say, I was stretched pretty thin and mentally exhausted.  As I wrapped up all my requirements for coaching school at the end of June, I craved downtime and not having to live every minute of every day by my calendar and clock.  So…I listened to what my body was telling me and, while it freaked me out a little to consider going dark on the blog for a month, I took the plunge.

And now, one extra week later, I’m back and ready to go!

Before getting back to business as usual around here, I thought I’d share the lessons I learned from taking a break as well as what I got up to during my ‘down time’.

 

HOW I SPENT MY MONTH ‘OFF'

My goals going into July were...

  • Rest, relax, read a book (or two!)
  • Go explore some of the beautiful areas around me.  I love hopping in my car and just driving around exploring for hours, so I wanted some of that freedom in July.
  • Brainstorm and plan new things for my website, blog, business, and tribe
  • Reconnect and hang out with my friends 
  • Do some redecorating and sprucing up in my home

With July in the books, I pretty much did all of that except brainstorming and planning new things for my website, blog, business, and tribe.  The ideas are swirling around my head and I’m finally starting on that this week, but I didn’t stress it.  I’d been swimming in the deep end of that pool for so long, it took me longer than I expected to release the grip and relax until I was ready to come back.  And you know what…it’s all okay.

In case you’re wondering what taking time ‘off’ looks like in my world, here’s how I spent my 5 week break from the blog...

The 3 R’s:  Rest, Relax, Rejuvenate

For the first time in 7-8 months, my life wasn’t dictated by my watch and/or calendar.   This month, I didn’t set my alarm on the weekends, I actually lounged on my couch and read a good book in the middle of a weekend afternoon (a total luxury!); and I binged on some TV (I don’t normally watch a ton of TV)

Basically, I relaxed and enjoyed spending my time however I felt I wanted to, which was awesome.  I was able to finish 3 books this month, which used to be my norm, but over the past 7-8 months, I was lucky to finish one book over the course of two months!

Spent time with Friends

For the past few months, my friends have sadly taken a back seat to getting everything else done.  I normally see one of my best friends a couple of times a month.  When July started, I hadn’t seen her since April! 😔  My other best friends in Atlanta, whom I talk to via phone, email, etc….same story.  

Fortunately, my friends are awesome and totally understood!  But, I knew I needed time with them to reconnect and get back on track.  So, this month, I made up for lost time! 

I had a 2+ hour phone call with my best friend in Atlanta and I hung out several times with one of my besties here in Connecticut.  I also meet up with my coaching friends (from my class) for a fun night out and even saw one of my NYC friends that I don’t get to see too often, which was awesome.  

Self-care Exploration and Planning

I spent the better part of one weekend mapping out what self-care means to me and what it would look like in my life.  I filled pages in a notebook exploring this idea, brainstorming, and coming up with my own personal plan.  I didn’t really pressure myself too much to start following the plan in July, but as I slide into August with responsibilities kicking back in, I want to integrate this into my daily schedule to bring in my harmony and balance.

Finished my coaching website

I have finished all of my requirements for being certified as a coach and after completing and passing my final ‘exam’ last week, I’m now officially certified as a life coach!  As I waited for my final ‘exam’, I worked on getting my coaching services on my website and I finally finished the initial version last week. 

It’s not completely done and while it’s a separate website right now, I do have plans to integrate it into this one so I only need to maintain one website (UPDATE!  It's now integrated and no longer a separate website!).

Updated my Bedroom

One of my big goals this year is to make my home my 'peaceful sanctuary' (sounds lovely, right?!).  If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know decluttering is a ongoing project for me.  I’ve gotten pretty much all of the rooms in my home decluttered (I even cleaned out my crawl space and outside storage closet this month!) and it feels so good! 

My bedroom was in need of a serious update.  The walls were tan, the furniture boring, and it was definitely not feeling cozy and inspiring.  So in July, it was time to pretty it up!  I painted the walls, recovered my headboard, refinished my dresser and basically transformed it from a boring, uninspiring space to a room I absolutely love that feels comfy, cozy, and peaceful.  

Explored

I didn’t explore as much as I had hoped to going into July (the bedroom redo took up a lot of time!), but I did set some time aside to hop in my car and drive up to Litchfield County, CT to get lost and enjoy the beautiful countryside and charming small towns.  

I was going to head up to Hudson, NY one weekend towards the end of the month, but we were in the midst of a ‘heat dome’ and walking around outside for an afternoon when it was approaching 100 degrees was not my idea of a good time.  I might save that one for this fall since it’d make for a beautiful drive there with the fall colors.

Self-reflection Work

I have one thing going on in my life right now that is causing me a lot of angst.  I’m not sure what I want, what to do about it, or how to move past it.  So…this month involved a lot of thinking, journaling, etc.  

While I still don’t have it all figured out (and I’m not sure I ever will), I feel I’ve made progress and in the past week or so, I’ve had some moments of clarity and A-HAs which make me feel good.  It’ll be ongoing, but the journaling and the getting real with myself has really helped.

 

LESSONS LEARNED FROM TAKING A MONTH ‘OFF'

Now that I’m feeling much lighter, more inspired, and more clear headed after taking this time off, it’s allowed me to reflect back and see the lessons I learned from listening to my body and giving it the time off it needed.

#1  |  Breaks are Essential

When I’m on a deadline or feel I have to get things done, I’m like a dog with a bone.  I won’t drop anything or ‘allow’ myself to take breaks and I will push myself hard until I get it done.  

While I am appreciative of my drive, focus, and dedication to getting things done, it’s not good for that to be my standard mode of operation.  

I can now see how restorative taking breaks can be…I can things more clearly and I feel more connected with myself and others.

They’re essential for my overall well-being and allows me to be more present when working on those deadlines and projects.

#2  |  Don’t lose touch with my friends

No matter how much I have on my plate, I don’t ever want to lose touch with my friends the way I did from April - June this year.  I’m blessed with amazing friends.  They are always there for me whenever and however I need them.  All of them have been in my life for 10+ years (and my best friend in Atlanta…almost 30 years!) and I can’t imagine not having their spark  and love in my life.

My lesson…always make time to connect with my friends.  I need them and you know what?  They need me, too.

#3  |  Listen to My Inner Mama

I like to call that voice of reason, my intuition, the caring side of myself as my Inner Mama.  We all have her inside of us and it’s the voice that urges us to take care of ourselves or soothes us when we’re hurting.  It’s easy to ignore her, but I’ve learned that she’s always right (just like our real mamas, right?!).  

She told me to take the break…she was right.  As I explored my self-care plan, she gave me guidance on what I needed for me, and as I dug into the area that’s causing me angst…she held space for me, helped me uncover thoughts, ideas, and feelings with empathy and without judgement.

The more I listen to her, which I did a ton of this past month, the more I learn that when she appears and talks to me…I need to listen to her.

#4  |  It’s okay to not have all the answers

As I navigated the murky waters of my self-reflection this month and tried to get into brainstorming my business, website, tribe, and blog, I got frustrated with myself for not knowing the right way to go.  I wanted to figure things out, but the answer wasn’t always there (and in some cases, still isn’t).  

As I moved through the month, I started to release the frustration and just go with it.  Loosing that grip on trying to control every little thing showed me that it’s okay to not have all the answers (which makes the type-A, goal setting, get things done part of me practically hyperventilate!).  In fact, not having the answers is sometimes a great place to be (huge a-ha for me this month!).  Being in that ‘I-don’t know’ place is okay.  

I always thought of the 'I-don't-know' place as the lost zone and I’d try to avoid it at all costs, but now, I’m thinking of it as the exploration zone.  I can explore what I don’t know from all angles to find the answer when it’s ready to emerge.  It’s in there, and I’ve learned to let it present itself to me when it’s ready (in other words, when my Inner Mama is ready for me to see it, she’ll guide me to it).

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Taking a month off was the best thing I could’ve done.  Not only did I get to relax, finish up some projects around the house, and get out and explore, it allowed me to gain a new perspective on how to approach things in my life going forward.  It allowed me to slightly alter my course so I’m more open and trusting of the process.

Life is a ongoing journey into the unknown, which can be scary, but can also be exciting if we open ourselves up to the adventure and let go of some of the control.

Do you give yourself permission to take breaks? If so, how do you benefit from the down time that you give yourself?