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  • Writer's pictureHermione Gardiner

Do you struggle to take a break?

Updated: Feb 12

Do you struggle with this too?

Do you struggle to take a break?

Do you struggle to take time for yourself?

Do you ever feel lazy or unproductive if you take a break?

You’re not alone!! I struggle with this too and so do many of the coaching clients and people I speak to each day.

Taking a break may look like having a lunch break right through to having a holiday. It could be having that sick day you need to recover through to taking half an hour to yourself away from your family to reset and recharge.

Rationally we know that taking a break IS good for us… but why do so many of us struggle with it? What are the signs we need a break? And why is it important that we prioritise breaks?

The body is designed to respond to short bursts of stress. When stress is high over a long period of time, your stress response is triggered over and over (maybe in a stressful job such as property management, let alone the stresses of life, relationships, family, finances, health…). With prolonged stress comes real health problems and burnout!

The interesting part about this state is that when we’re stuck in burnout, then even positive things can just feel like another part of the overwhelm. And the problem with this state other than the health risks are that we are not able to respond from a place of strength and wisdom as we are stuck in anxiety or auto pilot just to “get through”.

You may notice some signs that you need a break and jump onto it before it get’s to burnout, but in many cases it sneaks up on you and you don’t realise til you’re crying under a desk or spoons deep in a tub of ice cream and tears.

Some of the signs you need a break may be:

  • Changes in eating habits

  • Cynicism about work

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Getting sick more frequently

  • Lack of energy

  • Lack of motivation

  • Low mood

  • Snapping or Reacting badly

  • Frustration

  • Feeling unfocused or fuzzy-headed

  • Physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches

  • Poor performance at work

  • Disturbed Sleep

  • Using drugs or alcohol to cope with stress

  • Withdrawing from friends, family, or co-workers

And to be honest, unless you’re already feeling super motivated, energetic, excited and fully engaged at work and in your relationships - you’d likely benefit from a break because it’s a good idea to manage stress before it becomes overwhelming. Regular breaks can keep you functioning at your best - and ideally we want to think of them as preventative care according to leading psychologists.

But there in lie’s a problem in that we don’t always take preventative measures in life even when we know they are good for us as we don't always see the instant results. But if we can start to see taking breaks as important as our cars needing fuel and servicing, then we may start to see the scientific benefits such as…

  • Reduced stress: Obviously, you feel less stress when you're not in a stressful environment. But breaks bring more than that. They interrupt the cycle of stress that can lead to being overwhelmed.

  • Rest: By breaking out of the cycle of chronic stress, you can restore yourself physically and mentally to a healthier place.

  • Clearer thinking: A chronically triggered stress response can lead to decreased creativity, memory problems and other issues. So a break in the stress cycle can lead to sharper thinking and increased creativity

  • Increased productivity: All of this can make you better at your job, more available in your relationships, more energetic with your family, and more able to enjoy life after you return.

For many of us it’s still hard to actually do it, even with knowing this despite setting the goal or intention to take more breaks, so my two tricks are implementation and mindset.


For me no goal or intention gets actioned without the implementation plan... so

  • Want to take lunch breaks? Ensure the time is blocked in your calendar and that your team knows you’ll be offline for that time. Turn off your phone and emails so you can properly switch off and not spend the break taking calls, texts and emails - that my friend is not a break.

  • Want to have some time to yourself? Plan it and schedule it and ensure that there is someone to watch the kids for that time. It is okay to ask for help. Set the intention for what you want to do with that time (relax, switch off, read, journal, walk, sleep) so that you don’t just end up scrolling social media the whole time - yes I am guilty of this.

  • Want to take those leave days and take a holiday or even a staycation? Book it in, create a plan for the cover of your work, turn on that out of office, set a voicemail, and switch off. We can often think things will fall apart without us but with good planning we can rest easy knowing that things will be fine.


I work on this by clearing negative limiting thoughts and reminding myself of:

  • The scientific benefits

  • That I don’t have to earn a break

  • That I deserve to take a break

  • That I’ll be better for it

  • That the world won’t fall apart without me

  • That there is a real risk of burning out if I don't

  • That the only person I’m letting down is me if I don’t take a break

  • That it’s okay to let go

  • That I don't have to do it all alone

And I add in a bit of bonus accountability by communicating with loved ones to remind me of this too when I am frazzled and not letting go.

So, do you need a break?

What do you need?

When do you need it?

What will the benefits be?

How can you implement it?

What help or support do you need to do it?

Nothing changes if nothing changes, so here is your inspiration to make a change today.

If you need support to work on the mindset and implementation, or aren’t even sure what you need and where to start, reach out to talk about my coaching programs which can help you move from feeling stuck and overwhelmed to clear and calm. Our Zen PM wellness training program is launching soon and might be right up your alley!

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