5 SCIENCE BASED REASONS TO TAKE A BREAK
I was exhausted.
Life had handed us some big challenges. I had to discover a whole new kind of parenting, that I was not ready for (or so I thought). All I could do is keep on holding the space and taking care of everyone, but truthfully, I really had little left for myself.
It’s not that I wasn’t doing what I could with self-care each day – evening baths, shutting myself in my room with a good book, of course spending time with close girlfriends – but I knew what I was going through was intense, and I was needed – my 100% was needed.
Last summer (June 2013), my son lost his best friend in a Boulder tragedy – one that made the front page of the newspaper multiple times, and one that left us all completely traumatized, broken hearted and lost.
We have had a lot of support, a lot of time at home, and a lot of time to go through the various stages of grieving in a sacred and loving way. At times, the personal needs of our families get even more all-consuming and full. Nearly eight months later, we are just beginning to come up for air.
It happens this way sometimes in life. Often, parenting, working, school, living, and taking care of everything that needs to happen for our lives to run somewhat smoothly can be very overwhelming - especially amidst particularly challenging times.
I knew my time (Sue time) was coming. I could see it on the horizon, and it helped get me through. It did...
time i needed to breath, restore, pause, and reflect on one of the toughest years of my life.
I looked over my packing list multiple times this particular morning. I checked that I had my passport probably seven or eight times (a habit I have), made sure I had a couple important things in my carry on bag – journal, headphones, novel, essential oil, snacks, and of course my tooth brush (I like to brush on long flights).
I got all of my travel goodies to the front porch just in time for my ride to the airport.
Each year I take a group of women to somewhere exotic for a pilgrimage of deep relaxation, personal inquiry, space, rejuvenation, connection and time to unwind.
If you are like most of these women, you might understand their overwhelm in the business of the day-to-day. I sure do. Tired, stressed, burnt out. This seems to be one of the big reasons women decide to come along on our annual retreat. With all we hold in our lives, it is so therapeutic to take a break, reset, assess, and give ourselves some time just for us.
We make excuses, avoid change, get stuck in our outdated habits, and resist putting ourselves first, but is that really how you want to live?
This week I am going to share with you some very specific health benefits that happen when we give ourselves a break. They are important to know about, part of an important conversation for women, and something most of us could work on, as we are often the last ones on our own priority list.
5 Science Based Reasons Why You Should Take a Break
1.. Sleep more deeply
For most of us who are holding a lot in our days, it is a challenge to “let it all go” at night.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, 48% of Americans report a sleep disorder (most commonly, insomnia) and women are 1.3 times more likely to report a sleep disorder than men. The biggest contributors to sleep issues are stress, anxiety, depression or poor sleep habits.
When we take a break, we retrain our sleep cycles and studies show these new habits most often continue even after we return home.
I recently learned from a master teacher that the best way to release stress, trauma, and pent up emotions in our nervous system is to rest. It sounds so simple, and yet many of us find it so hard to make the time to rest.
2. Gain perspective
Underneath a lot of our suffering are our outdated old habits, the way we sabotage our happiness, and the age-old way that women forget to take care of themselves.
Our inner voice that tells us to listen, to slow down, to nap, to take some downtime – most often get overridden with turbo gear, muscling through, and our fast paced world.
Something has to change.
I spent years silencing that voice. Then one day, that voice said, "I can't do this anymore."
The pain of staying the same became greater than the pain of change and I dove into spending time on giving myself a break and creating downtime. It was time to break out of old patterns and into a life where I felt free, connected and could become my own priority.
3. Lower your body mass index
Yes, it’s true. The stress hormone, cortisol, does no good for your waistline. High cortisol levels lead to higher insulin levels. Both of these sneaky hormones store body fat when they are out of balance.
When you give yourself time to slow down, rest, and release your stress and overwhelm, you biochemically tell your body to release excess weight around your mid-section.
Not only is this pleasing to most women, but it also creates a healthier body composition for the long term.
4. Balance your hormones.
According to the Chopra Institute, doing fifteen minutes of deep belly breathing twice daily has been shown in several clinical trials to increase balance of the female hormones, as well as improve a woman’s sense of well-being.
Learning a mind-quieting technique such as meditation or yoga, will help decrease stress hormones and allow the body to function more efficiently.
Imagine how much time you have to breathe deeply, meditate, and rejuvenate on vacation or retreat.
5. Improve your longevity
"It is important to engage in multiple leisure activities, both as a way to enjoy life more, but also to potentially have a benefit on increasing long-term health and decreasing long-term stress" University of Pittsburgh's Mind-Body Center.
Your long-term health will thank you.
Understanding that stress, fatigue, and burnout are responsible for most degenerative disease, often helps us to take our prescription for peacefulness a little more seriously.