This week I took a vacation–something I have not done in a very long time. Utah State College was performing an oratorio that my father had written the lyrics for, and my mom set up some business meetings during the stay. I, however did not have much business to attend to, so I have:
- Gone running
- Curled my hair
- Done my makeup
- Practiced driving (a lot)
- Worked on my novel
- Worked on my blog posts
- Taken photos
- Read a book
- Watched Netflix and Hulu
- Scrolled through Twitter
- Responded to emails
- Cooked food
And what I realized is: I have forgotten how to take a break. My 9-5 keeps me busy throughout the day, blogging is a job within itself, and my weekends are filled with errands and outings, so I can’t say I’m often bored or that I have long stretches of time to myself.
For the past several months, I have put an immense amount of pressure on myself to constantly keep going. I have to take the LSATs I have to get into law school I have to get a job I have to push through my depression. So how do I just turn it off?
Well, I can’t.
Maybe my inability to turn off is due to my extroverted nature or even bouts of mania that come from my anxiety (I talked about this recently with my therapist, and it was an incredibly eye-opening conversation. I often sanction my “down time” out of a fear that if I don’t control myself, I’ll fall into a depressive state where I cannot get up again.
It was weird for me to be in a place where I am unfamiliar and unable to get around without a car. I had spent so much time trying to be independent and self-reliant, that it was hard to have to depend on people. If you have followed my writings for a while, you likely know that I had a rare brain tumor as a child, and a lot of my drive to be independent comes from that experience.
I think at heart, none of us wants other people to feel like they have to take care of us, but sometimes we forget that sometimes we want to be taken care of, if only for a little while.
After I accidentally locked myself out of the house (long story) and showed my mom that I was as responsible a driver as a beginner could be (road rage aside) I think I was able to find that balance between taking time to relax and taking time to feel occupied, but in an unexpected way: by making time for other people.
When you feel busy or stressed, a part of your body goes into survival mode, and it gets into that “me me me” mindset. But when you detach from that and begin to focus your energy on other people, that self-focus mindset goes away. I visited my grandmother, some cousins that I haven’t seen in years, made new friends, and watched a beautiful and original music performance. And I finally got my break.
So my words of advice are these: taking time for yourself is fantastic, self-care is needed sometimes. But, the best and most unexpected way to take a break from your busy life is to give some of your time over to others.