It’s okay to take a break!

For my school district, Spring break took place from March 7th-11th. Throughout high school, over spring break I would get started with studying for my AP exams which are in May. This year, because I have many tests, I felt that I should study more than I usually do over break to get a good amount of studying out the way. I set aside a couple chapters a day to review and study for each subject I had and stayed on track for most of the week. Although I didn’t finish absolutely everything that I planned, I did a good amount considering that we went to tour colleges for 3 days in the middle.

Saturday morning I had a volunteering event that took up all of my mornings. On my way back from the event I thought to myself “I’ll spend the afternoon studying that way I can have the evening to myself and do what I want”. Once I got home and ate lunch, I was about to go do my work for about 2-3 hours and get it over with but I really didn’t want to. Usually, when I feel this way, I just tell myself to suck it up and drag myself to get my work done because “I have to”. But this time I was just tired. I wasn’t able to sleep well the night before and volunteering for 3 hours in the cold definitely didn’t help it. Yes, there may be times when it may really be needed to push yourself due to a hard deadline or other events that take up time but in my case, I have until May. If I don’t finish reading 2 chapters of my AP Psychology review book about the biological bases of psychology in the afternoon, it won’t kill me. Around the same time, my parents and brother were going out to run some errands, and initially, I said that I would stay home and finish my work. Before they left, my dad noticed that my face looked tired and asked me again if I wanted to go with them so I just decided to join them. This is something I have never really done before. I honestly never really put my work aside to take a break because I felt I needed it. I would always tell myself something and sit down to get my work done. Which again, may be necessary in some cases but not this one. And I’m not going to lie, it definitely did feel refreshing to just go out. However, once I spent a couple hours outside and was on my way home, I felt this weird guilty feeling: “Why did I just waste 2 hours outside when I probably could have finished my work for the day?” When I came home, I went straight to my room to work, not because I wanted to but because I felt guilty for not doing so earlier. I felt that I needed to finish the work I didn’t do because I just “wasted time” in the afternoon. After I finished a chapter I didn’t regain any motivation to work and thought to myself, “Why do I need to feel guilty? Why do I have to blame myself for taking a break? Is taking a break bad? Do I need to make up for that time by sitting right now?”

The truth is: NO!! You DON’T need to feel guilty for taking a break when you need it. You DON’T need to feel that you need to “make up” lost time by forcing yourself to get your work done. When your mind and body are telling you to take a break, just do it. There is no reason to constantly push yourself when you don’t have the energy in you to be productive. And yes, you may feel guilty. I definitely did. I really feel like society has created this impression in the world we live in today that no matter how you feel, you need to just “suck it up and get what you need to get done”. When there are people all around us that are working super hard and being super productive, it creates indirect pressure on others to do the same. And my example of last Saturday may be a very small one. I know there are many people out there who struggle from chronic stress or sleep deprivation due to their work or external pressures but they don’t feel they can take a break for various reasons (kids, deadlines, bosses, teachers, societal pressures, etc.) But the reality is that nobody is perfect and nobody can do everything all the time. No, at the end of the day I did not finish what I wanted to initially. I didn’t finish reading those two chapters I had left. I only read one. So what? This is the reality. There are days when goals aren’t reached. When you just need a break. And that’s okay!! This is the story behind the success. The days you just don’t feel like working. the days that you need a break from everything. There are and always will be small goals that aren’t reached but that doesn’t mean you lose sight of your dream. It doesn’t mean you are not a productive person. It means you are human.

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