When Is It Time to Take a Breather?

You've worked for weeks to meet a deadline. Day in and day out, almost 24/7 at the computer. Your agent is pushing, and so is the publisher. And your editor is dragging with the last revisions. Not to mention your blog schedule is scantily filled, and your writing isn't at the top of your game. Then there are the stresses of home, finances, kids and well, just life in general.

By KorallĀ (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

By Korall (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

You feel like burying your head in the sand and not coming up.

So, take a breather! Give yourself a break!

Did I hear you say, "I can't?"

Oh, yes, you can, and you should.

It is at this point you should take a breather. Step away from the computer, the desk, the stress and strain. Treat yourself to one or more of the following:

  • Take a short walk, maybe just a couple of blocks, breathing deeply as you go.
  • Make yourself a cup of tea or pour a cup of coffee and go sit under your favorite tree and savor the joy of the moment
  • Clear your mind of all that calls your name and close your eyes for 10 minutes or so while doing some deep breathing exercises.
  • Stand up where you are and do some stretching -- neck, shoulders, arms, fingers and back. Remember never to sit for long periods of time no matter the deadlines.
  • Do something else you love to do for a while -- gardening, painting, needlework, reading, listening to music.
  • Call a friend and make a date for lunch, something to get you out.
  • Better yet, as soon as those deadlines are met, take a weekend or a week, and step away for a little longer.

And the list could go on but I think you get the idea here. Nothing is as unhealthy as pushing yourself beyond your own mental and physical limits. Only you know what they are, but train yourself to recognize the right time for a breather. Usually it's when . . .

  • You lose focus on what you're writing. The constant and intense attention given to your writing will tire you much more quickly than you can imagine. Usually, your writing slows down and/or it seems your eyes can't grasp what you're looking at on the screen or on paper. Take time to close your eyes and breathe deeply.
  • You feel your hands or fingers cramping from long hours of typing. Or maybe it's a stiffness in the neck and shoulders. For me, it's usually the lower back that gets tired. Time for stretching exercises!
  • You realize you haven't spent much time with family, children or friends. This is a part of who we are, and without time with the ones we love we soon become less of who we are and want to be. Make time for an afternoon strolling with your best friend, husband, wife or kids through a park.
  • You feel like the world is on your shoulders. Well, it may seem that way, but really it's not the world -- it's your world. Time to look at how the household chores are shared and who can do some of the things you usually do, especially if there are responsible children or teens in the home. Give yourself a little less responsibility for things others can do.

Please note that I'm not any better at taking care of myself. I'll sit for hours at the computer writing, and then wonder why everything feels so stiff. I am not a trained expert on this topic, but learned some of what I've shared when I underwent two spinal fusions, and still I don't pay much attention to what I learned.

My goal is to take better care me of me so that I can finish my book, support my blogs, communicate with online friends, and spend time loving my family and friends.

I truly hope you do the same. All you have to remember is when to take a breather!

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