Taking Time Out: Practical Tips

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You are working constantly like a machine, juggling the children, housework, your job, the list goes on. It's time to slow down or actually take a clean break! In this blog, we are going to have a look at why taking time out is so crucial, some of the signs that show you that you do need to take time out and some practical strategies and tips that can help you in order to take time out. 

Lots of research has found that by taking time out, whether this is taking small breaks throughout the day during your everyday work, whether that's professional work or personal work, it is really beneficial and productive and it means that you will produce a better outcome in whatever work you're doing. 

This is why if you're working professionally, you'll have designated legal breaks that they want you to take including a lunch break. It's not just about taking a break out to eat or to drink; it's also to give yourself a mental and emotional break from the stresses of what you're doing and just so that you can relax and refresh and recharge. 

But this also applies to if you're taking a bigger break in your life. So for example, if you're physically, going away for two or three days. If you're having a short break or longer holiday because you need a break. Go away so that you can forget about the work, forget about what it is that you're doing and completely recharge and refresh yourself before going back to the grind of your daily life. 

Lots of studies have found that by taking breaks your level of energy actually increases and your exhaustion levels decrease and this was found to be true even one year later when they did the study,  this is why it is so crucial. 

What are some of the signs that tell you that you need to take a break? 

There are several signs we can see and feel in our everyday lives that let us know when we have reached breaking point; it's another thing as to whether you choose to respond to that and whether you choose to respond in an appropriate way. But first have a let's have a look at what the signs are.

One of the signs might be that you're awake at all hours in the night or when you go to bed you're really overthinking about this this task this job or whatever it is in your life you feel that much level of overwhelm. It's like a reel going off in your head, so instead of going to sleep or just relaxing and falling asleep, you're quite stressful and that stress keeps you awake. Then you keeping yourself awake means you're not getting a much needed sleep and rest, which the human body needs in order to function. So the fact that you're letting it disrupt your sleep means that you're at that stage where your body is telling you that you are overwhelmed and you do need to take some time out. 

Another sign could be that your eating habits might have changed. Some people stop eating or eat very less compared to what's normal for them, but some people might go the other way and overeat or binge eat to compensate for the fact that they're so overwhelmed. 

Another sign could be that you just have no motivation anymore, so it could be that you really enjoy doing a task or it wasn't very difficult for you to do a task because you would be used to doing it, but all of a sudden, you've got no energy. You have got no motivation. Your heart's not in it. Thus this could again, be another sign that actually you probably reached that peak point of overwhelm where it's got so much for you and it's turned into a burden rather than something that used to be enjoyable, or even if you didn't enjoy it and you had to do this particular task or work or things in your everyday life, you didn't use to hate doing it. 

Another sign to manifest itself is you neglecting yourself. So that could mean that you're not physically bothered about your appearance or your health or even emotional neglect where you're just not listening to yourself and you're not giving yourself that recovery time and you are just neglecting your everyday needs. 

This isn't just a momentary of short term thing, it's across the long run or even over a number of days. You suddenly have this overwhelming sense of having like a breakdown and all these other things that we've just discussed coming together and it manifesting in you just unable to do the work anymore and really feeling upset and sad and down about it. Your body and your mind are saying to you, look, you need to take a break because at the end of the day, we're not machines. We're human beings and we do need breaks in order to be healthy.

Tips and Strategies 

What are some of the strategies that you can do? How can you physically create time for yourself? How can you look after yourself in this way? 

Here's some practical strategies. First of all, agree a break time, whether that's at work with your manager, your boss, or even with your friends and peers. If you're doing collective work together. Or even with family members, if you're doing something at home, agree that this is the time I'm going to be on a break. 

Maybe you can even switch your phone off that time or, you know, put it on airplane mode or silent mode, which means that you are actually taking a full break. Some people go into a break and then they start doing another task in the break. For example, they might start making phone calls. So that's not really taking a break because it means you're engaging your mind in something else! So it just builds up the levels of exhaustion. So make sure that you agree a time in which you're going to take a break. It might be that you need to set an alarm on your phone and at that time, you know, even if you're alone and not with anyone else, another strategy could be set an alarm and at that time go and have a break. 

It might be that you go and have a tea and coffee or maybe take it outside if you can, even if you can't physically go anywhere, go to a window or go outside in the front garden, back garden, but try and go outside or away from whatever it is that you're doing, the task that you're doing, so you're having a proper time out away from it. 

Another thing you can do is plan to do something you enjoy in the break. That might be having something you really enjoy eating, or just switch off and do something else. Go for a walk or something that's not involving the work you're doing so that this then becomes enjoyable. And when it becomes enjoyable, you'll make a link in your mind that actually at break time; I'm going to do something that's enjoyable and that will create a positive emotion and the positive emotion will have a positive effect on you. 

That'll mean that you are being more productive. So it's like a good knock on effect. So if you do something that, or if you plan to do something that's going to be enjoyable, that'll be, make you more motivated and more likely to actually stop and take that break.

Another tip for you is that you can do is enjoy the outdoors. This might be easier said than done, depending on your circumstances and where you are, but if you can, absolutely take some time out to go for a little walk, even if that's a few minutes of a walk, even if that's in your own house outside in the surrounding area. If you're driving somewhere, and you can't do that or you're going from one place to another then consider parking and walking for a little bit because it is immensely beneficial. Enjoy nature, you know Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala has made nature for you to enjoy as well Alhamdulillah, so and that doesn't cost anything either so make the most of it. So whether that's going out for a walk with somebody else with someone in your family, make sure you do that at some point. That can also be a practical way in which you can take a proper break.

Another way as a Muslim that you can take a break is during the five daily prayers. This could vary depending on where you are. For example, you might be at work you might not have a huge amount of time. But the fact that you're taking this time out five times a day Subhanallah to connect with your creator means that you're already in a in a state of taking a break but then after you finish your prayers, even if it's a couple of minutes, sit and just think and reflect on what's going on in your day, both negative and positive. 

A further tip is to talk to a friend. Now, again, it might not be possible to talk to them in reality if they're not in front of you or they're not near you. Give them a call if you want to do that for the purpose of just having a chat with them. That is also really beneficial, especially if you're that overwhelmed and stressed that you just need to let it out. Think of someone that you can trust. It might be a family member or a close friend. 

There is even a whole concept of talking therapies, which is a form of therapy where you go and you talk about your problems and your issues. So if it's something that you need to vent about and you need to just de stress in that manner, definitely find someone or connect with someone that you can just talk to because that's another way in which you can de stress. Release that stress and that overwhelm and have an effective break.

Don't forget when it comes to self care, some people neglect self care when they get overwhelmed. There's different aspects within self care. So there's physical aspect emotional aspect and mental aspect. Do make sure you're looking after yourself in all these ways. 

So obviously physically think about your appearance; what you're eating, how you present yourself, and also think about mentally how you're thinking what your emotions are when you're feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Afterwards, maybe in the night time when you're doing a bit of reflection think about how that made you feel and how that might have impacted on your actions and maybe what you can do differently next time. So that's really important to think about as well your your emotional state and your mental state like how did it make you feel? 

By looking after yourself in all of these three different areas. You can even think about what am I grateful for today? Even if it's something small end the day on a positive note and then thank allah subhanahu wa ta'ala so you're you know, you're being in a state of thankfulness as well so instead of going to bed overwhelmed and stressed not only thinking about the negative things think about the positive things.

Try and take that time out to do the whole package like when it comes to self care think about your self holistically and work on your inner self as well as your outer self. So you're the best version of yourself, try and have a structured self care plan. Remember what they say when you're in an airplane and there's an emergency and the oxygen masks come down They always tell you that you have to put your own on first before you help a young child or any of the people around you In the same way, when it comes to overwhelm, stress, taking time out, you have to put yourself first, you have to be a little bit selfish so that you can look after yourself, be the best version of yourself in order to be more productive and be the best version of yourself to help your family, your friends and be more productive in work.

Most importantly, make sure that you stay consistent with these tips and strategies so that you could always be taking a break. Remember, that could include small breaks or larger breaks if you have the ability to take them. 

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