Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Making Time For Time Off
When I want to take time off for other activities in my life, I have to plan for it. That’s not so difficult; it just takes a bit of organizing. What is difficult are those times that I can’t exactly plan for, the moments that come along either expected or unexpected, when emotionally, I’m not in the best place to write. I suspect that we all have those moments. But like most working writers, I have deadlines to meet, and curling into a ball under my desk is remarkably unhelpful. I have a few strategies that are helpful, though, starting with making time to take time off.
Accept that you need time for yourself. Why is it so hard for us to take care of ourselves? I mean, really, we’re pretty good at taking care of everybody else’s needs, but when it comes to our own needs, maybe not so much. We believe we must soldier on, no matter what. So first, give yourself a break. Give yourself permission to take time off.
Next, do something good for yourself. So you’ve taken that first step, which is taking a step away from work and writing. And now it’s time to take care of yourself. For me, that means meeting with friends for food and laughter, or heading to Tybee Island to reconnect with family. Maybe it’s a day of sitting on my deck, reading. I love to read, and like comfort foods, I have favorite books and authors that comfort my soul. It might even be binge-watching a season of one of my favorite comedies on Netflix. The point is, I indulge in something that makes me happy. Granted, it doesn’t change the reality of my life, but it gives my sea storm of emotions a chance to subside. And that’s a very good thing.
Then get back to work. Oh, that was kinda wonderful taking time off from work, wasn’t it? But too much time off and I start to defeat the purpose of taking time off. Namely, my work piles up and guilt sets in. Or I get too far behind and want to throw in the towel and walk away. And so the trick to taking time off is striking a balance. It’s not just hearing, but listening to that voice that says, “Okay, you’re better now.”
And you know what? Mostly, I am. I take a couple of good, deep breaths and appreciate the gifts I’ve been given, including this writing life I love. Time to get back to work.
~Cathy C. Hall