The Secret To Taking the Right Type of Breaks for Your Creativity
Is your creative work beginning to feel like, well, work?
Have you ever wondered if you should take a break from your creative work, but then felt guilty for even considering it?
Are you feeling frustrated with your creative project and maybe even a little burned out?
It could be time to take a break! But wait...did you know that there is an art (pun intended) to taking a break from your creativity?
Not too long ago, I was hard at work on a project that was inspiring, fulfilling, and that felt really meaningful. I was working night and day, cancelling plans with my friends, not getting enough sleep, and was basically letting myself be completely consumed with this work.
Can you relate to this feeling?
We often call it "flow" or "getting in the zone" and really, it's the desired state for our creativity. It allows us to access our rich, deeper work. The good, meaningful stuff.
However, we simply cannot be in this state all the time. We have to take breaks or else we'll crash and burn and possibly never return to whatever it was that initially created this deep flow state, and then we're left with another abandoned project.
As luck would have it (although I didn't recognize it as such at the time) I had an upcoming weekend getaway with a friend that had been planned for months.
I was miserable...I didn't want to set my creative work aside! I was in flow! It was all coming together so nicely. How could I interrupt my work now?
Yet I knew I couldn't cancel. So off I went, secretly making plans in my head to sneak in some work on my weekend away.
Fortunately, I wasn't able to "sneak in" any work (yes, I can hear your sigh of relief, too.)
I ended up having a fun weekend with my friend and enjoyed being fully present with her. I was able to get out of my head and return to the world for a bit.
After this weekend of a "forced break," I returned to my creative work refreshed and with a new perspective. I could see where I had been puttering away my time and was able to refocus my efforts on the important details.
I felt less overwhelmed, stressed, and disconnected. Heck, I didn't even realize that I had been feeling these things before because I had been so immersed and close to my work.
This was the right kind of break for my creativity.
The good news is that we can actually be intentional with our breaks so that they support our creative work.
So how do you know if you are taking the right kind of breaks for your creative work? It can be challenging to keep that perspective when we're in the middle of our project.
I've listed some important considerations so that you can me more intentional about taking time away from your creativity without losing momentum (and be sure to download your own free Creative Break Planner by clicking here.)
KEY FACTORS to Taking the Right Kind of Creative Breaks:
1. Give your break a time limit.
It's essential that you give your creative break a time limit, otherwise you run the risk of getting further and further away from your work and never returning to it. A 24-hour break can be just the right amount of time, although a weekend away like I did can be nice on occasion, too.
In order to make sure that you stick to your time limit, make a plan that will ensure that you return to your work. Enlist an accountability buddy, make some kind of appointment or deadline that will get you back into your work.
2. Really give yourself a break.
If you're going to take a break, don't do it half-heartedly. Set the intention to step away from your work and adhere to that. Of course, creative ideas might sneak in when you're not thinking about it, so be prepared to jot these down or take note of them in some way. But then let them go and return to your break.
3. Take time to journal and reflect when you return.
When you return to your work and before diving back in, take time to journal and reflect on your current project. You may be surprised to find some new insights and perspectives that have arisen from taking this time away. Also check-in to see how you are feeling after your break.
4. Plan your next break.
Before immersing yourself back into your creative cave, look at your calendar and plan your next break. This way you have something to look forward to and it will help you to work harder now. This way your breaks can become a part of your healthy and productive creative routine.
WHEN to take your Break:
It might be a good time to take a break if you're experiencing any of the following:
- You've reached a point in your creative project where you're stuck. You've hit a brick wall and, even though you've kept at it, nothing seems to be happening. You feel your frustration growing and you may even be feeling the tiniest bit resentful of what you're working on.
- You've been working for so long that you actually don't remember the last time you've seen the sun, your friends, or your family.
- Even if you're not feeling any of these things, it's time to take a break if you haven't taken one in awhile!
What KIND of Breaks Should You Take?
Here are some tips for taking the right kind of breaks for your creativity:
- If you've been stuck in your head for awhile, do something physical that will get you back into your body. Any kind of movement is good. Walks are great!
- If you've been secluded for awhile, get out and be around people. Even if you feel like you're only partially present, being social for a designated amount of time can provide the break that you need. Spend some quality time with loved ones. Or, make plans to meet up with that new friend you've just met and have been meaning to get to know.
- Rest and Self-Care: it could be that you need some quiet time to replenish. Take a long nap, sit under a tree and meditate, or go to the spa and get a massage.
- Read a book, watch a TV show or movie, or go to a concert. This may seem contraindicative for your creative work, but sometimes we need to "refill the well" and give ourselves time to be entertained just for fun.
When you are intentional about taking breaks for your creativity, these breaks can become an important way to support and nourish you and your work.
Remember that you are a vessel for your creativity and you need to take care of ALL parts of you. When we do that and achieve balance, our creativity has a beautiful place from which to bloom and flourish.
Have you ever taken an intentional break for your creativity? Please share your experience in the Intentional Creatives Facebook Group here.
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