But it's equally important to remember that we need to pause from time to time, whether that be by heading off grid for a trip away from screens and all things digital, or finding little ways to bring peace and mindfulness into your everyday work routine.
I've personally found that learning to take breaks...well, it takes practice. But it's important and necessary for our creative and physical wellbeing.
There are many ways to find the grace and stillness within your workday, but one method that has become a particular favorite of mine is developing what I'm going to call an afternoon ritual: something that you do smack in the middle of your day. Something that completely extracts you from the normal patterns of your workday and throws you into an entirely different headspace. I've found this to be an extremely refreshing practice that not only causes me to savor the sweet undertones of each and every day, but also helps me to achieve a greater sense of clarity to carry into the rest of my work.
It can be tricky, especially for creatives, to stop working because we generally love our work...but it's so extremely important that we avoid the trap of becoming so entwined with our work that we begin to associate with it too closely. Taking a break can be a wonderful way to remind yourself that your value as a unique being is not dependent on how much you work, or what you create. Yes, creation is an outpouring of our being...but on days when we make nothing, we are still valuable, loved, and fully alive.
Here are a few ways taking a break in the middle of my workday - finding afternoon rituals - has helped me to remind myself of exactly that.
#1 - tea
In my family, a cup of tea is much more than a cup of tea. It's a deeply loved and respected afternoon ritual; a warm or iced beverage that goes far beyond flavor and extends an invitation to gather, talk, and commune. This is the nectar shared over the messy manuscripts of my youth, this is the comfort that embraces me on the long, cold, Vermont winter days. Tea is a respite. Making the tea itself is a practice of mindfulness, whether it's organic black tea sweetened with a touch of Vermont maple syrup and almond milk, or if it's brewing a big pot of yogi tea on the stove, the practice itself brings me into the moment: gathering the ingredients I need, smelling them, tasting them. Boiling the water. Or, if I'm making yogi tea, slicing sweet yellow ginger into long, fragrant slices, popping cardamom pods to bring out their earthy flavor, counting out spicy auburn cloves - watching all of these dance together in the swirls of boiling water. Tea is best when shared, and even more delicious when paired with good conversation or accompanied by a good book. Tea is a sweet way to step back and...steep. ;)
#2 - yoga
Yoga brings you fully and completely into the moment. I've practiced yoga for years now, and it would probably take a few very lengthy blog posts to spell out just how much it's done for me and how many positive ways its impacted me. Yoga is not only a great workout and a wonderful way to expand your lung capacity, it's a spectacularly peaceful way to reunite with your innermost being and find a place of stillness, a place where work and everything else is placed into a box and set aside, allowing you to completely and totally clear your mind. There's so much liberation in the practice...in coming back every day to carve out this time and space for you to just...be. To move and breathe in the present moment and forget everything else. It's a wonderful way to pause your day, to take a break from work, recharge and find the energy you need.
#3 - learning a language
This is one that I want to coordinate into my afternoons more regularly. According to many studies, learning a second language actually helps your brain to grow, become better at multitasking, and increase memory. In other words, learning a language is like doing a refreshing workout...except for your mind. I've found that studying a language, even if it's just for fifteen to twenty minutes in the afternoon, can be a great way to hit the reset button; it throws my brain into a completely different way of functioning, and it can feel so good to step out of the normal, every day groove and change it up. Not to mention you'll end up fluent in another language eventually, which is pretty cool too.
#4 - getting out of the house
This one's really simple and straightforward: sometimes you just need a change of scenery, and if you work from home, getting out of the house can be a helpful way to force yourself to step back from the desk and take a breather. I highly recommend nature walks. I can't remember the last time the sound of songbirds and the whisper of the wind in the tall, swaying pines didn't inspire me.
#5 - learning martial arts
For me, martial arts is similar to learning a language - and if you attend or ever have attended a dojo, you've probably discovered that there actually are some language learning aspects paired with the physical practice of learning a martial art. Again, this could and eventually will require a post all its own, breaking down just how important a part of my life martial arts is, but for now I will just say that, among the many, many benefits it bestows, there's nothing quite like taking a break from the desk to step outside and do kata barefoot in my driveway with only the sky above to watch, and the trees to help me keep time. I would recommend learning martial arts for a million good reasons, but for the purpose of this post, if you're looking for something that sort of blends the benefits of yoga and language learning, this might be a perfect ritual to adopt for a midday refresh.
So those are a few of my favorite things to take a break for in the middle of the day. Each is special to me, and each helps me to stay charged in different ways. If you're looking for ideas to help you create a practice of carving out some time for yourself and bringing a little grace to your work day, I hope these inspired you to do a little experimenting!
Now it's your turn - what's your favorite way to take a break? What's something that makes you feel super rejuvenated after doing it? How does it help your creative work?
Have an inspired weekend and week ahead, sweet soul!