Only 3% of US workers are planning to take breaks this summer according to a report. This is mainly because of anxiety over job security induced by the Covid-19 pandemic but also because the emergency move to remote working has left us locked to our computer screens for more hours per day than we would usually expect. The consequence of this is that we’ve been taking far fewer breaks than we should and 4 months later, we’re starting to feel the strain of just powering on through the day without sufficient down time factored in simply to our regular working day.
We have to start being tough with ourselves. The truth is we need breaks. Breaks are essential for us – we need them for our mental well-being, to keep our sense of purpose and motivation, to be able to see things with fresh eyes, to replenish, to get our creative juices flowing, to just simply have a moment of quiet time, catch up with people, change perspective, move around and just be.
But doing this during a pandemic when crisis management takes over, it’s all too easy to forget that we need some down time. However, as the initial panic has settled and we start to get into more of a routine, we can afford to plan a more structured working day for ourselves.
I realised that I was starting to feel like I was on the metaphorical treadmill in mid-March. I felt like I was constantly online and felt light-headed and blurry-eyed at the end of a day. My coaching sessions are usually all online but my teaching was always f2f. Now with the pandemic, my teaching too suddenly shifted online. By mid-April I was on autopilot during lessons and I noticed that it was starting to affect the quality of my language too.
It was during a coaching session that month, where I was the client, that I suddenly realised that the way I was feeling was because I hadn’t been taking proper breaks. I needed to plan breaks into my working day and stick to them. So, I got out my diary and blocked them out. I made sure that I stuck to them for the next week or so and gradually they have become my new habit.
Now, it’s the end of June and I’m starting to think now would be a great time for a holiday…Unfortunately, work commitments won’t allow that to happen just yet but I think it’s important to factor it in for the future so time doesn’t just slip by. So, I’m open to being creative this year. Maybe an extended holiday by the sea at Christmas would work!