Time to take break anyone? :-)

During the year, I spend my time explaining to overstressed and burnout people that it is important to take care of themselves, to let go at time, to disconnect from their day to day world in order to recharge their batteries and I can always see the struggle for them.

I can see the questions, the doubts and quite often the anger, masking the fear….

Are you for real?

You have no idea how busy it is right now for me

I know you are right, but right now, I can’t do it, I have too much on….

Those are a few of my favorite and recurring questions I get when I suggest taking a break, without electronic connection.

And yes, when I mean let it go, I mean REALLY disconnecting.

I had a client who was very good at taking his time off and taking the time to go far away with his family and all. But he would come back even more stressed than before he left. After the 3rd time it happened, I finally asked his wife how he was during the break.

The answer was startling.

She said: “The place was amazing, the sight seeing I would recommend!”

I pushed: “OK, but how was your husband during that time, did he manage to relax?”

Her response was very telling: “You know when he had finished working, he would find time to relax….”

It turned out that this person was working from his holidays, in a way that was non obtrusive for his wife and family, so he was awake before down and he would put a good 3 hours of work, before he went on to enjoy a full day with his family before he would excuse himself before dinner to work a few more hours. He would then go to dinner and would finally work a couple of hours before bed. I had to ask for confirmation.

And his answer was: “Well, yes of course I have to do that, there are a few projects that I am leading and a few deadlines, I cannot NOT meet.”

So the guy (and it happens to be a man in that example, but be assured that women are quite capable of such behaviour too) was away for a break and was not taking a break from the stress of his work. No wonder he was more tired after his break than before. He never really connected with his family because he was too tired for that, and unfortunately, he was so tired, that he was constantly in a bad mood and his family did not want to make things worse for everybody so they did not challenge this behaviour. They were used to it and they accommodated it.

The family would enable this unhealthy cycle by not forcing this person to break the cycle once in a while. His wife even mentioned that he would get more and more agitated and would not even be able to focus on the daily activities if he did not have his “daily dose” of computer and work. Talk about an addiction.

So I asked her how she really felt about her husband behaviour and yes, they were both in the room during that conversation. Her answer really hit home for him:

I feel that I am second fiddle. Never good enough or exciting enough to keep his attention for any period of time. I feel that I am not important and that I am imposing when I ask that we take some family time. It is not really comfortable, because it is clear that it is costing [him] a lot to be with us and try to juggle everything. So I feel that I am letting him down, because I can not be like him and go on for ever without a break. I need breaks, I enjoy a change of scenery and I used to enjoy his company. He used to be a fun travel companion and I thought that it was what he liked too. But at this point in time, I just know that what he likes is work. And I should accept that I am not that interesting anymore.

This was a wake up call for him. After his first reaction which had been angry, he stopped and realised that she had a point. When he was working 8 hours days in the middle of his family time, he was not focussed on his family, he was actually probably not doing a great job professionally and most certainly was not doing a great job personally. And most importantly he was not taking the break he needed.

The good thing in this scenario was that he had a loving relationship and the message went through before any damage was done. They were lucky!

But it is not always the case. People when confronted with this message, “when on a break, let the work go”, find it extremely difficult, because their fears play up.

What if something went wrong in my work when I am away, what if they found a more qualified person than me for the job,….

So they don’t take breaks, they pretend, but in doing so, they are letting themselves down.

If you don’t take that opportunity, you are putting yourself at risk, risk of being exhausted and burning out, which would mean that your worse fear would become a reality, you would have to let go completely and for a very long period of time.

One is never indispensable and no-one should be. It is an illusion. No matter where you are on the food chain, you are not indispensable. Even CEOs go on holidays and don’t talk shop all the time. Depending on the size of their company, they may have a daily briefing for an hour or so, just to be kept a-breath with the affairs of the company and they will be kept informed should something terribly wrong happened requiring their attention, but for the most part they are not contactable.

So if CEOs can take a break, where ever you are in the organisation chart, you can and you have to take breaks and disconnect for a while, just so that you can reconnect with your own life: Your family, your friends, yourself.

Give yourself and others the gift of undivided attention, of making them feel that they are the most important part of your world. That you have to work, but that you are working so that you can spend quality time with them.

Give them the real thing, not a fake. Give them Your Best Self!

Every year, I do plan a month long break.

The plan is to take off to spend undivided time with my family!

When the decision is made, I usually feel good and excited. But as the time draws closer, I realise that I feel anxious about the break!

Why?

Well, let’s face it, it is never the right time, I always have so many clients that need my help still and my favorite: What if my business died off while I am away….

So I usually “tap” (EFT for Emotional Freedom Techniques) on all those questions and resistance and I realise that I DO need a break.

I usually have been working intensely for the past 6 months or so and I usually really need to take some distance so that I can re-engage later in a more efficient way.

Yes, it is never the right time, because it will never be the right time, and yes my clients will always need me, no matter where they are in their journey. And yes, my business will not flourish if I am not working.

But in order to continue helping people, I need to take care of myself first.

As for you, where ever you are, take time for yourself. Be it a few hours, a few days or even a few months. Just do it on your own terms and at your own rhythm, but what you can not do is delay! :-)

Just do it!

 

Joelle

 

 

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