Are you obsessed with being busy? The new year always starts out with a flood of expectations, new habits and big goals, but what if what you really need is a break? Well, this is your permission to slow down this January. You’ve earned it!
You know I love aligning with the seasons, and in this case especially, nature can teach us an important lesson. Fall is a busy time of year – harvesting, celebrating, socializing, and preparing for winter. Yet when the holidays are over, we as a society seem anxious to fill the downtime with new plans and busyness.
If we look at nature though, this quiet season is essential. Animals hibernate. The days only get longer slowly, not all at once. Seeds grow slowly underground first, in order to bloom in springtime. And by the way, January 22nd is the Lunar New Year this year, so yet another reason to chill at the beginning of the year!
But if you’re still having trouble shaking the desire to head full-speed into the New Year, here are a few more reasons why taking a break is good for your mind, body and soul.
Rest is essential to our health.
Our bodies may run 24/7, but they use the valuable downtime when we’re resting to perform important and necessary maintenance on our body. The glymphatic system flushes out toxins that build up during the day using the clear cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds your gray matter (AKA your brain, babes), but the key here is: it only happens when you’re asleep.
So when you’re always on the go and sleep deprived, those toxins build up. And the side effects of sleep deprivation don’t stop there —it affects our hormones, how we fight illness, how much and how well we eat, to our organs and cardiovascular system.
You may not even realize how much stress you’ve been under until your head hits the pillow at night. That is why January is the perfect month to slow down. Ease into your new fitness routines or critical work projects this month, so you don’t overwhelm yourself when you’re already stretched thin.
Slowing down does not equal laziness.
If you struggle with perfectionism (and I think a lot of us do to varying degrees), you may equate taking a break or even a full stop as some kind of failure.
You can tell that negative thought gremlin to hit the road right now because being able to recognize your limits and when you’ve reached them, making your health a priority AND acting on it, is a fundamental of successful people.
Social Psychologist Devon Price shared with NPR that instead of “viewing ‘laziness’ as a deficit or something people need to fix or overcome with caffeine or longer work hours, think of it as a sign you probably need a break.” So don’t ignore an S.O.S. from your body.
Taking a break can improve our creativity.
“Creatively, it’s always better to take a break when something’s not working. When we try to push through, it often gets worse. Better to leave it for fresh eyes another day. “
– Alison Porter
Like I’ve said many times before, it’s important to have a life outside of your career. Not only will you lead a happier, more well-rounded life, but nothing sparks inspiration like a new adventure.
If you continually push yourself past your bandwidth, not only will your cognitive abilities suffer (memorization, improv, decision-making) but your creativity too. Taking a break, completely unrelated to work or anything work-related, may be just what you need to get out of your own way.
Plus, I think nothing beats an afternoon in the sunshine, exploring nature. Even if you’re not able to take full afternoons off, slow down the free time that you do have with a good book, cooking a delicious meal from scratch or a long walk.
Do you have trouble taking a break? What will you do first, now that you have permission to slow down this January. Let me know in the comments below.
LOVE + calm!