Do you need a break? Many of us do, but the real question is whether or not you’ll take time for one. Those of us alive today are living at a faster pace than any human beings who’ve ever walked the planet. Advertisers tell us our tech gadgets will save us time, but as quickly as we save it, we raise our expectations about how much we can accomplish with the time we have left. It’s like being on a treadmill and slowly, but consistently increasing the speed. Sure, you’re running faster. You’re getting it done. But at some point, you just want to get off the treadmill! Here are a few signs it’s time to take a break.
1. You are busy but not productive.
You know what I’m talking about. You’re doing stuff, just not the most important stuff. You’re moving, but not progressing. If that’s you, take a break. Refocus. Restart.
2. You are irritable, even when nothing particularly stressful is happening.
If your attitude at work is always sour no matter what, there’s something simmering beneath the surface. Anger—including the quiet, passive-aggressive type—is usually a sign that a boundary has been crossed. Resentment emerges when we don’t speak up, ask for help, or make a necessary change.
3. You just accomplished a big goal.
Research shows that our energy is depleted after the accomplishment of a big goal. We are more effective at meeting future goals when we give our minds and bodies a chance to recover so that our energy will be replenished for the next big task at hand. Just finished a major project? Celebrate. Relax. Rejuvenate. Then move on to the next big thing.
4. Your body hurts.
Your body will give you warning signs. Don’t ignore them. Chronic back or neck pain, headaches, and fatigue are just a few of the ways your body is trying to talk to you. Listen. If you don’t, there could be long-term consequences ahead.
5. You’re dreaming about work.
If you are dreaming about projects, deadlines, and that pesky coworker, it’s a definite sign that some downtime is overdue.
6. You haven’t had a break in a while.
Even if none of the other five signs are relevant to you right now, you still need regular breaks. If you haven’t taken one recently, get going! Ten minutes every couple of hours, a day of downtime every week, and a vacation or personal days for fun time every few months will make you far more productive—and far happier—than working nonstop.