The benefit of taking time off
How a forced break made me realize the importance of giving into the notion to rest and play more often...
A few weeks ago, I did something totally radical and out of character for me – I took five whole days off from ALL OF MY JOBS and didn’t do a single thing that resembled housework, projects or “being productive.”
I didn’t go out of town or have some big thing planned. In fact, I very specifically made NO plans, so that I could rest (the main reason for this respite) and be more intentional about how I spent those five glorious days not working or “over doing.”
As a spin instructor, part-time server and freelance marketer, working in production for ad campaigns, not only is everything I do very physical, but it also means I work non-traditional days and hours.
To put it in perspective, prior to this break, I had not had a weekend off (where I was in town) since August. I was completely burned out and exhausted and my body was quite literally going on strike, presenting injury after injury, resulting in copious amounts of pain, frustration, irritability and low energy.
This also was not me. Or at least, not the me I want to be.
But the answer, though simple – “just take some time off and rest” as prescribed by my doctor and physical therapist – was nuanced and not easy.
I’ve chosen the life of freelance, contract, part-time and gig work for a lot of reasons (which I’ll go into another time), but with that choice comes the reality that when I don’t work, I don’t get paid.
Enter the financial stress gremlins who are loud as fuck and completely inconsiderate of when I'm sick or tired or simply need time off to rest and play…
“You can’t afford to take time off.”
“How will you pay your bills?”
“You have to work weekends – that’s where the money is.”
“You’re still in debt and have current bills to pay – who do you think you are to take time off?”
I could go on…
So no, this choice was not easy, but holy hell was it needed and worth every penny I did not make.
I spent the entire break sleeping in; resting; doing yoga; playing (with my hair, makeup + styling outfits); connecting with dear friends and making new ones; drinking delicious wine and eating yummy foods; reading my book; taking myself out to dinner (twice!); going to the Crocker Art Museum to see the last day of the Alexander McQueen exhibit (which was absolutely INCREDIBLE and so, so inspiring) and finding my fucking joy again!!!
Reflecting back on this transformative break in the weeks since, it hit me: these are the moments I’ll remember – not the dishes being done, the laundry being put away or the house being clean.
I was decidedly not "productive" in the way we typically deem. I didn't check a single box off of my never-ending "to-do" lists (yes, plural), nor did I over-schedule myself socially in an attempt to make up for the fact that I hadn't had a weekend off in eight months, which is what I would normally do.
Instead, I lived in the moment – something that's not always easy for me (I am a Virgo, after all) – and simply did what I felt like that day and purely for the "Yes, that sounds fun!" joy of it.
As a result, what I did do was so much more meaningful and memorable and will truly live on as one of the best weekends of my life.
And get this...
Prior to taking this mini staycation, I had booked a one-day production gig that would be taking place a few weeks later and interestingly, right after I submitted the requests to my part-time jobs to take off those aforementioned five days, the executive producer for the gig came back and said, “Hey, how would you feel if we paid you more and we moved you over from the production team to wardrobe styling?”
Talk about timing and serendipitous magic! ✨
And also, yes, the chores (and work) can absolutely wait…
This served as such a great reminder to listen to my body and trust the timing of my life.
Did I make as much money this past month as I normally do? Nope, not even close.
But I’m okay (financially and otherwise). In fact, I’m pretty fucking great!
That’s the benefit of taking time off from work and busyness and giving into the notion to rest and play…
You come out of it with a new perspective and more open to different ways of approaching challenges and then suddenly, without much effort, things begin to shift. New opportunities present themselves, ideas where you were once stuck start to come through and I like to think the universe / god / your guardian angels and spirit guides smile down and say “good, you finally listened to your body and followed your intuition – now the fun can begin…”
Or at least that’s been my experience and belief.
Regardless of the outcome, if you’ve been feeling restless or stuck or burned out, consider this your invitation to step away and go play.
You might just get the rest you need and you may even stir up a little magic of your own in the process. ✨