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  • Writer's pictureJessica Davey

The Importance of Taking a Break and Switching Off

Well. What can I say. Just as we thought it couldn’t get any worse… I’ll start off by saying that I live in Kent. Enough said I think?!


After what has been a very dodgy-feeling, “am-I-definitely-strapped-in-well-enough-for-this” rollercoaster sort of a year, Christmas was meant to be the day that made it all sparkle a little bit again for so many of us.

As I live on my own (apart from my dog, Coco – although even she is getting a bit sick of me being around constantly!), this was going to be one of the only times I could get my loved ones together this year. Ironically on Saturday I was doing some Christmas shopping, blaring Mariah into my ears and finally getting into the Christmas spirit. I was about to have a long-awaited massage (a ‘relaxing’ treat for myself, it was meant to be) as Bozza popped up on my phone notifications and announced Tier 4. 5 minutes later the masseuse asked, “You’re very tense, Miss Davey, have you got a lot of stress?” I think the ironic symbolism of my Saturday afternoon could not have summed up 2020 any better.


Sunday felt like the morning after Armageddon. Even on Monday, walking down the high street with its Christmas tree and lights desperately trying to sparkle through all the bad news and cheer everybody up, something didn’t feel quite right.


But today is a new day. As disappointing, upsetting and frustrating the news of lockdown is, it is important to remember that there will be other Christmases, you are not alone in feeling how you feel and we are getting closer to the end.

As our Christmas plans have been reduced to just a quiet meal with our close family – or even spending it on our own – it is very tempting to think, “I’ll just do some work, I have more time on my hands and there’s nothing else to do.”


But – this year more than ever – it is so important to take a break.


The exact same thought went through my own mind – I have all this ‘free time’ now that I will be on my own, let’s do some work! As a business owner/massive geek, you never switch off. But whether you are a Founder, a CEO or just bloody passionate about your career, having a rest from it all is so incredibly important.


For your health and to avoid burnout


If you have been lucky enough to not been furloughed this year, you have still been put under an extreme amount of pressure. Chances are that your workload has doubled or tripled in size, covering for absent team members; or you have been constantly re-strategising, re-aligning and delivering against new business initiatives due to the impact of Covid. You may have had to juggle the sheer amount of work whilst home-schooling children, caring for loved ones or even working a second job to generate more income.


You cannot physically continue in this way without reaching burnout. Your mind and body need a break.


To heal – physically and emotionally


The extra stresses that 2020 has brought to you – whether you are a Founder, a C-Suite Executive, a mum or 20-something who has had to work from your bed in shared accommodation with strangers for a whole year – are clear. But have you really taken the time to acknowledge the toll it has had on your mind and body?

The physical impacts of such a life-changing event are sometimes quite evident, but stress is so much more than feeling overwhelmed and angry. It can also affect you in other ways: lack of or disrupted sleep; hormone imbalance and mood swings; depression, anxiety and loneliness; gut issues and weight gain or loss. Even just the emotional rollercoaster you have been on – worrying about your health, job, money, family and your old way of life being taken away from you – is huge.


When we are rushing around and constantly busy, we can numb out these feelings, but taking a break provides you with a chance to acknowledge them all. And if they left a mark on you, you need time to deal with them – whether that be speaking to somebody about your experience or caring for yourself – and taking time for you – more than you ever have all year.


To reflect and look forward


We have all been operating at 100mph this year. When life is so chaotic, we do not have a chance to truly reflect on how we feel – whether that is about your job or personal life. Career-wise, it is important to ask yourself:

  • I may be constantly busy in this job, but is the work actually challenging me? Am I progressing? Am I actually enjoying the role?

  • Where do I want to be in my career this time next year? Will my current job offer me that?

  • If I do change jobs, what exactly am I looking for? (I have written a separate blog post that may help you on that! – https://www.belongconsultancy.com/post/is-this-the-right-job-for-me)

For creative thoughts and big-picture thinking


Have you ever struggled to really focus on solving a problem, when you have the noise of your other day-to-day responsibility in the background? Have you been putting off a strategic task at work because you have been just so busy fire-fighting other things?

This may not be work-related; it could be about your own future aspirations, a side hustle you have been meaning to work on or something in your personal life. Use this time wisely to step away from the usual distractions and let your thoughts and creativity flow.


To take a break from technology and be with loved ones – or enjoy your own company!


This year, it feels as if we have been glued to the media for constant updates and relied upon technology more than ever before. Although there are so many positives of how technology has enabled us to stay connected, it can become unhealthily addictive very quickly.

Take a day – or more! – away from your phone; switch off the news and delete the apps. Get outside; go for a walk, a run or explore new places. If you are fortunate enough to be with family, spend undisturbed time with your loved ones and make memories. If you are living on your own, invest in time for you – catch up on sleep, Marie Kondo the hell out of your house or unashamedly sit on the sofa reading your book all day and paint your nails. Do it for you.


There is hope. Good times are coming. 2021 will be your year. Take this time now to rest and prepare yourself for it.

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