Time for a break.
I’m not a sprinter. In fact, I credit endurance as one of the main reasons I get to do the work that matters to me. I might not be the fastest or even the most talented creative but when I put my mind to something, I’ll keep a steady pace until I get there. And while this has immeasurable benefits, one of the drawbacks of my marathon-like approach to my creative work is that I’m always moving. Sprinters take breaks; I do not.
I genuinely love the work that I do; I don’t hustle for status or bragging rights. It just requires less effort to let my one-track mind keep chipping away at what I’m interested in. And I’ve gotten a lot better over the past year. I don’t push nearly as hard as I used to. Which is why I was surprised when the undeniable feeling that I need a break flooded my body after a workout that would have normally left me energized.
I was supposed to begin filming my course this week but have decided to rework my shoot schedule so that filming can be done next week. I am house sitting for a friend starting today and am going to use that time to have a bit of a staycation. Of course, I’ll get some writing done but I’m keeping my expectations low. While I’m still learning to sense the need for a break before I crash like this, I respond quickly when it happens.
My body feels achy and flat. My appetite is subdued and all I want to do is drink lots of water and sleep. Cognitively, even the simplest task or decision requires and exhausting amount of focus and effort. Taking in new information feels impossible and social situations seem like they’re happening through a veil. While I know it’s coming from a tired place, it feels like I don’t care about anything. I just don’t have the energy to.
As a creative, especially when my finances are stretched thin, I can slip into believing that I don’t get to take a break until there’s money coming in. I start to think of rest as a reward instead of as an essential part of the creative process, regardless of whether or not there’s money in my bank account. On top of that, I lament having to push back deadlines. Finishing a project later then expected affects other projects I’m working on or planning to begin.
Still, the body wants what the body wants. And after hospitalizing myself at the tail end of my last big creative project I’m treading carefully. While my life now is vastly different to my life six years ago, I will never forget how quickly my body shut down when it had enough. So it’s time for a break. Not because things have gotten desperate but because I don’t want them to. More than I want to stay on task, I want to finish what I set out to do.
So what signals to you that it’s time for a break or time to slow down?