Why You Need to Take a Break—Even When It Feels Like You Can't

The start of the new year is often a time for many to create a list of goals. Resolutions to fulfill by the end of the next year or just to establish from this point forward in life. These goals tend to drive most decisions and serve as a bar we set for ourselves—a point we have to reach. While goals can be powerful tools to make change in your life, they can also be the root cause of stress.

I’ve never been one to make resolutions. Personally, I’ve always felt that if I wanted to make a change or set a goal for myself, I would implement it in that moment rather than wait. As you can imagine, this has turned into quite the list of things I aim for constantly. However, I have always felt that in order to reach my fullest potential, I need to make the most of every opportunity—hence the list of aspirations. With these aspirations has come heavy involvement in my community, leaving not much time for myself. When everything is going well, I feel amazing; my involvements will fuel me. Yet when I might not be in the best mental state, they’re what add to the pressure and push me down.

I feel that many of us are in a similar boat. We’ve come to college, this time we are said to look back on with such nostalgia, and we are trying to make the most of our time while balancing other aspects of our lives. Making time for friends or a relationship, doing well in our classes, creating time for ourselves, paying for rent/food, applying for majors or internships or jobs to further our development, taking the time to adventure...all of these are occurring simultaneously and there is an underlying feeling of expectation that we are supposed to be able to do it all.

Well guess what? We can’t. And that’s more than okay. There are certainly the times that we are able to and feel invincible, but in the end we are anything but, and it’s foolish for us to believe we can continuously overexert ourselves with zero consequences.

In the past on Her Campus I have not written too personally, but I joined to share what I believe is important. Winter quarter has been extremely challenging. Unlike Fall quarter where I had the mental capacity to devote a great deal of energy to the various parts of my life, this quarter I’ve been presented with external challenges that have required the entirety of that same energy. I’ve been up, down, and around more than what is typical for me, and I’ve stepped away from majority of involvements due to being unable to even have the energy for myself. In a way, it felt as if I was failing. Sure, I’ve been doing well in my classes, but what about my time to adventure? What about my extracurriculars? What about my friendships? What about myself?  What about the weeks of Her Campus articles I haven’t turned in? What about...the list can go on.

Of course I’ve known that it’s okay to take time for yourself. In fact, we’re in a time where that is encouraged more often than ever. Ironically though, we are also in a time where there is so much pressure to be doing absolutely everything and so many opportunities to compare yourself to what others are doing. Personally, it’s made me feel like I can’t stop or I’ll fall behind, and made me feel as if I can’t reach out, for there is fear that I will seem unable to “handle it.” Based on conversations I have everyday, I know I’m not the only one. It’s easy to forget or to fear  to take that time for yourself.

Yes, this is a time of great promise and wonder. Yes, we have only scratched the surface. Yes, it is okay to try to do it all and make the most of every moment. But only if it’s just as okay for you to take a break.

Reschedule those coffee plans, close the textbook, be brave by being vulnerable and letting those around you know that you need time. Whatever it is that you need to take that time for yourself, do it. You are the only thing inhibiting yourself from taking strides towards that break. It all starts with the conscience decision that this is what you want/need/are going to do. After all, how are you ever going to get back to doing it all if you don’t take the time re-energize? I have learned that with all things, it takes time to get where you want to be. Continue to shoot for the stars, but remember that in order to soar, we need time for ourselves to understand the best way to fly. Take a breath, take a break and be patient. Better things are coming.