The Tricky Art of Letting Yourself Take a Break

Posted on 5 min read

It’s Saturday night, and I’ve spent most of the afternoon chipping away at blog posts for next week. (I know, I’m surprised at my uncharacteristic level of preparedness too!)

I’ve worked on this blog every single night this week. (In fact, I can’t remember the last time I had a ‘night off’ from either Katie Writes or Derbyshire Delights.)

I’ve been saying every night to myself, and to everyone around me: ‘Well, if I work on the blogs tonight, I can have tomorrow night off!’

When ‘tomorrow’ rolls round, I find myself sitting at my desk staring at WordPress once again.

(I’m not asking for sympathy by the way, nor is this a ‘woe is me’ kind of post.)

But, after that massive surge of creativity that I mentioned the other day, I’m hitting that brick wall once again.

It’s the same brick wall that can often stand in my way for days, weeks, or even months. Despite hitting it umpteen times over the course of my adult life, I’m yet to find a proper way around this daft obstacle.

I knew it wouldn’t be long before it was back to put a stop to my productive phase, but I was hoping that it’d hold off a little longer than this.

What I’m trying to get at is: I need a break.

I need to learn how to fit in some downtime, regularly. Even if it’s just one evening a week sat on the sofa in front of Netflix instead of plonked at my desk, trying to force ideas out. I need to teach myself when to log off, when to put my phone down, and when to give my frazzled mind some breathing space.

It feels like the only way that I can ‘recover’ from these dry spells of creativity is to take a step back and implement some self-care. It’s just easier said than done, isn’t it? Guilt gets in the way, as does finding the time.

So, I plough on, stupidly trying to get through the brick wall with perseverance – and that just makes matters worse.

For instance, I know I’ve spent too long on Instagram today. I can feel it. My levels of frustration and boredom with the platform have peaked this evening, which is a telltale sign that I’ve scrolled for too long. What’s the cure for that? Stepping away from that pesky little time-draining app for a little while until those negative feelings subside.

Putting IG on the back burner for a day or two is fine, but when it comes to blogging, I have a lot more difficulty pressing the pause button.

I know I’ve spent too much time blogging of late. (It’s been a busy week with the redesign and some tech issues to sort out!) And when you blog primarily in the evenings, it eats into any ‘leisure time’ that most people make time for. It means that I don’t wind down properly before bed, it means that I don’t get down that reading list of mine as much as I’d like, and it means that I don’t get to catch up on all of those Netflix shows that everyone else is banging on about. (I still haven’t seen Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Stranger Things, or Nanette, amongst many others…)

Don’t get me wrong, I love blogging, but when you take it so seriously (for no apparent reason because it isn’t your career, and you haven’t made a success of it compared to so many others) it sucks the fun out of it, and leads to growing bubbles of discouragement surfacing.

And I know that it isn’t the end of the world that I’m sat at my desk instead of on the sofa, cocooned in a blanket with a boxset on the go – but I also know that it has a negative effect on my mind if I ignore these growing levels of exhaustion with ‘everything online’. And despite the fact that I know it’ll inevitably make me much more miserable and anxious in general, I still don’t make enough of an effort to change things.

When I say ‘break’, by the way, I mean a night or two off. Not disappearing for six months to ‘find myself’, because I have a feeling I’d be sorely disappointed if I did. I’m terrible at maintaining a healthy relationship with my blogs and social media. I stupidly worked on this blog on Christmas Day, NYE, and even New Year’s Day. I treat as though it’s a job when it isn’t, for some strange reason.

Over the past five years, my perfectionism has soared, and it seeps its way into every single hobby I take up; gradually poisoning them for me. (Wow, that sounded quite dramatic, didn’t it?) With the rise of ‘editorial style’ professional blogs, it’s also left the rest of us ‘hobby bloggers’ playing catch-up and feeling inadequate in comparison; but that’s a conversation for another day.

It’s the perfectionism, and workaholic tendencies, along with my annoying trait of ‘taking everything too seriously‘, that means that I’ve nearly always forced myself to keep running at that wall head first until I knock myself out on it. It leads me to resent the very things that I started doing to make myself happier, and to make my life better. In fact, I came close to quitting blogging altogether last year, and I think this must be the root cause of why I felt that way. This sheer inability to let myself take a step back at regular intervals to refresh my mind.

Perhaps I need to blog in moderation, and set stricter boundaries of when I let myself work on them both. Perhaps I need to have more digital detoxes, and delete apps off my phone for whole weekends at a time for a healthier headspace. Perhaps I just need to spend a little more time in the ‘real world’ instead of by myself, with just my Mac for company.

I’m really not entirely sure what the point of this weird, rambling blog post is. I’m guessing that I started writing it in the hope that some of you might relate somehow? What I think I’m trying to say, in a very convoluted way, is: if you feel the same, you’re not alone – and also: take a break.

I’m going to log out now, I think. Maybe I’ll pick up a book for once?

Do you ever feel frazzled when it comes to online life?


*Photos from because I’m too tired to whip my DSLR out, guys…

Re-Introducing… The Weekend Edit
The Tricky Art of Letting Yourself Take a Break