It’s Okay to Take a Break

It’s okay to take a break when you’re struggling mentally, physically, or both.

It’s so easy to get overwhelmed. We all have so many commitments to keep up with that being able to make time for yourself can be rare. It’s okay to take a break, though, and if you are struggling, I urge you to consider stepping back.

I had to step back from this blog during the first several months of 2021 due to an overwhelming sense of burnout and poor mental health.

I’m finally feeling much better and am back to blogging, and after taking such a long break, I’m now enjoying it just as much as I was when I first started this blog!

That’s not to say that I ever disliked writing here, it’s just that I got so wrapped up in the idea of making money through the blog that it started to feel like a second job. My full-time job is demanding and I really struggle with my mental health due to it, but building up this blog until it felt like a job took a lot of the fun out of it.

So I stepped back and took some much-needed time off. I started to read for pleasure again without taking notes the whole time for an upcoming review. I stopped waking up every morning to scour and post Kindle deals (which took over an hour each day!). I stopped using Twitter. After a couple of weeks like this, I had rediscovered my passion for reading and writing and wanted to jump back into it. However, I forced myself to wait just a little longer, to make sure I was ready. And it’s paid off.

When should you take a break?

There are too many reasons to list here for why you might need to take a break from some aspect of your life.

Some examples, however, include:

  • When you feel like you never have “me time”
  • You find yourself stressed over mundane or trivial things
  • Your sleep is interrupted by worries over what you need to get done the next day
  • If you no longer find pleasure in the things you once did
  • Spending time with people you love start to feel like a chore
  • Your body and/or mind is simply exhausted

Not everyone can step back from work or their commitments, however. That is a privilege that not everyone has. However, if you are in the position to take a break and you need one, do it. It’s not the end of the world to take off a sick day from work or to use your vacation time or to cancel plans to work in some alone time. It’s 100% okay.

While taking a single “mental health” day isn’t going to fix everything, it will give you a moment to simply catch your breath, and sometimes, that can be life-saving.

What if you aren’t able to take a break?

If you are not in the position to take time off work or to set aside your commitments, then you still have some options!

Try to find time during your busy day to work in at least half an hour of time for self-care. For example, after putting the kids to bed you could have a glass of wine while relaxing in a bubble bath. Or, you could wake up a hour earlier before work and use that time for reading or journaling.

If you can’t manage to make time for something like that, perhaps listen to some relaxing music or a self-help audiobook on your commute.

Your mental and physical health is important. Sometimes it’s hard to make time to take care of yourself, but it’s literally one of the most important things that you can do! So please try to make time, even if it’s just a few minutes here and there.

Do Nothing by Celeste Headlee – A Review

DO NOTHING_cover

Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving by Celeste Headlee
Nonfiction | Self-Help | Psychology
Published by Harmony
Released March 10th, 2020
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_and_a_half_stars

If there’s one book that I’ve read this year that I would encourage everyone to read, it would be Celeste Headlee’s Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving. Even though we’re only halfway through the year, I’m confident that this book will still be my top non-fiction recommendation of the year come December.

No one can deny that Americans, and citizens of numerous other nations, are extremely overworked. Most of us rarely stop moving, even after we punch out. We’re always busy and we rarely take time to relax. I’ve talked on the blog before about job-related burnout, and I’ve experienced it for years (especially back when I was working two jobs!).

In Do Nothing, Celeste Headlee makes the case that Americans are too focused on productivity and efficiency, to the detriment of our happiness and health. Rather than working 40+ hours a week and constantly striving to be the best member of your team, she suggests that we slow down and set aside time to relax, have hobbies, and truly rest.

celeste headlee
Celeste Headlee

Before I talk about all the reasons that I love this book and its purpose, I do want to mention that the idea of voluntarily taking time off from work or just simply working less comes from a place of privilege. Obviously, if you’re struggling to put food on the table and pay bills, you’re not going to be able to do it. The reason I rated this book 4.5 stars rather than 5 is due to this book not being practical for everyone.

There are several points that Headlee discusses in her book that are important. First, the tradition of a 40-hour workweek is outdated. This isn’t anything new – there have been plenty of studies that show that workers who work fewer hours are just as productive and are happier at work. The “standard” work week, as we know it, was invented during the Industrial Revolution to maximize the profits of business owners and milk as much productivity out of their workers as they possibly could.

Second, we as a culture are constantly working to improve our productivity and efficiency, even when those things actually make more work for us. Think about it – how many of us use a plethora of apps every single day to track our food, water intake, moods, steps, to-do list, etc? All of this takes time, and while there are benefits to these things, it’s taking away from our precious leisure time. We also take our work home with us through email on our phones and having to be available whenever our bosses need us. We’re not really relaxing if we’re on call 24/7.

Third, and possibly most importantly, Headlee discusses in length the effect that social isolation has on the human psyche. More and more people prefer texting or email over real life social interactions, and that is linked to growing rates of depression and loneliness. No one talks to their neighbors or have backyard barbecues or game nights.

These, along with several other incredibly important issues, are all addressed in length by Headlee. She argues her points succinctly, with plenty of evidence to back up her claims. Everything in the book is easy to understand and is something that most of us likely already know subconsciously, but that desperately needs to be said.

The one thing that I took away from this book that I think will have a lasting impact on me is the suggestion that we can work enough to provide the lifestyle we want, rather than constantly striving for more. I’ll admit it’s not something that has ever crossed my mind consciously but make so much sense. When I picture my future, I don’t see being a manager of a huge company and having an embarrassingly large house (although it’s okay if that’s what you want!); I simply want a modest home with enough land to grow food, be able to take trips occasionally, and not worry about paying my bills or putting food on the table. I’m okay with not being at the top, I just want to be comfortable enough to enjoy life. It’s such a simple concept, but one that’s also easy to forget.

If I haven’t made it clear yet, read this book! I rarely call a book life-changing, but changing our lifestyles to become healthier, happier people is something that we should all be striving for. Work consumes our lives, and few people are actually fulfilled by their jobs – let’s work instead towards the goal of learning to enjoy our leisure time.




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Do You Have Job-Related Burnout?

sebastian-herrmann-1431244-unsplash

Note: This is a repost of an article from May 2019. I’m sharing it again because this is an important topic and something that I even need to remind myself of time and time again.

Feeling burned out at work is something that many of us will feel at one point or another. Our society forces us to work, mostly in jobs that mean nothing to us, for long hours, low pay, and mediocre benefits. It’s no wonder that people’s mental health can begin to decline in those circumstances.

According to the Mayo Clinic, burnout is defined as “a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.”

For years, burnout has been something that people have been experiencing with little support. Hopefully, that will change, however, as the World Health Organization now recognizes burnout as a legitimate medical diagnosis.

In their International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), the WHO has added this definition of burnout:

Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions: 1) feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; 2) increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and 3) reduced professional efficacy. Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.

Having burnout become an official international diagnosis doesn’t mean that employers will start offering leave time or mental health days, however, so it’s important to recognize the symptoms of burnout yourself, and know how to practice self-care to lessen the effects.


How to Recognize Burnout

riccardo-mion-652660-unsplash.jpg

Experiencing job-related burnout can manifest in a variety of symptoms, but here are a few to be on the lookout for:

  • becoming increasingly angry or cynical
  • dreading going in to work so much that it starts to physically make you feel sick
  • substance abuse to help you cope with a hard day, such as drinking too much when you get off work
  • feeling disillusioned or unsatisfied with your job
  • finding it harder and harder to concentrate
  • the thought of work or going into work causing you a great deal of stress or anxiety

Here’s an example of what to look out for from my own personal experience. I use to work in a mountain resort and spa. I worked there for years and enjoyed it, as I worked with amazing people, most of whom I’m still close friends with today. Over time, however, I started to lose interest in everything I was doing while on the clock. I was constantly stressed out, to the point where I would get terrible headaches or stomach-aches just at the thought of going into work. I stepped down from my leadership position to see if that would help, but I still felt the same cynicism and lack of interest. Then I realized, with the help of friends, that I was experiencing burnout.

I quit my job and started doing something new. Even though I wasn’t making as much money, I was a hundred times happier. I’ve started to realize that whenever I start making myself sick with anxiety at the very thought of going into work, or when I reach the point when I cannot say anything nice about my job, I need to be mindful of the symptoms of burnout, and take care of myself. It’s also usually a sign that I need to look for a new job.

The symptoms of burnout are going to be different for everyone. You know yourself better than anyone else, so trust your instincts on this.


How to Combat Burnout Symptoms

simon-migaj-471526-unsplash.jpg

The obvious answer to combatting burnout would be to find a new job. However, not everyone has that ability, especially in cities where the job market is terrible.

Here is some advice to help you manage the stress that burnout causes:

  • Talk to your supervisor or manager about how you’re feeling. They’re not going to fire you if you tell them that you’re unhappy. Hiring and training new employees costs a lot of money. Perhaps there’s a way you can transition to a role that would be more fun for you, or you can take on some added responsibilities that will make you more interested in what you’re doing.
  • Use your resources. Many companies, especially large ones, offer some form of employee counseling or help hotline. Don’t be afraid to utilize these resources! They’re almost always confidential.
  • Find a way to truly relax outside of work. One of the reasons burnout happens is that we feel as though our jobs are taking over our whole lives. It can certainly feel that way. To prevent this from happening, make sure that you’re setting aside time for a relaxing activity or something that makes you feel happy. This could be anything, from meditation to hiking to playing your favorite video game. Prioritize fun and relaxation.

Burnout is a very serious problem in our society, and I’m glad that the World Health Organization sees it that way.

Please get help if you’re feeling the symptoms of burnout. You don’t have to feel miserable. None of us deserve that.



Do you have any advice on dealing with the symptoms of burnout? Let us know in the comments.




Don’t forget to follow me on social media:

Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram | Amazon Wishlist

If you would like to support Read Yourself Happy, you can donate through Ko-Fi!

Do You Have Job-Related Burnout?

sebastian-herrmann-1431244-unsplash

Feeling burned out at work is something that many of us will feel at one point or another. Our society forces us to work, mostly in jobs that mean nothing to us, for long hours, low pay, and mediocre benefits. It’s no wonder that people’s mental health can begin to decline in those circumstances.

According to the Mayo Clinic, burnout is defined as “a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.”

For years, burnout has been something that people have been experiencing with little support. Hopefully, that will change, however, as the World Health Organization now recognizes burnout as a legitimate medical diagnosis.

In their International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), the WHO has added this definition of burnout:

Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions: 1) feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; 2) increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and 3) reduced professional efficacy. Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life.

Having burnout become an official international diagnosis doesn’t mean that employers will start offering leave time or mental health days, however, so it’s important to recognize the symptoms of burnout yourself, and know how to practice self-care to lessen the effects.


How to Recognize Burnout

riccardo-mion-652660-unsplash.jpg

Experiencing job-related burnout can manifest in a variety of symptoms, but here are a few to be on the lookout for:

  • becoming increasingly angry or cynical
  • dreading going in to work so much that it starts to physically make you feel sick
  • substance abuse to help you cope with a hard day, such as drinking too much when you get off work
  • feeling disillusioned or unsatisfied with your job
  • finding it harder and harder to concentrate
  • the thought of work or going into work causing you a great deal of stress or anxiety

Here’s an example of what to look out for from my own personal experience. I use to work in a mountain resort and spa. I worked there for years and enjoyed it, as I worked with amazing people, most of whom I’m still close friends with today. Over time, however, I started to lose interest in everything I was doing while on the clock. I was constantly stressed out, to the point where I would get terrible headaches or stomach-aches just at the thought of going into work. I stepped down from my leadership position to see if that would help, but I still felt the same cynicism and lack of interest. Then I realized, with the help of friends, that I was experiencing burnout.

I quit my job and started doing something new. Even though I wasn’t making as much money, I was a hundred times happier. I’ve started to realize that whenever I start making myself sick with anxiety at the very thought of going into work, or when I reach the point when I cannot say anything nice about my job, I need to be mindful of the symptoms of burnout, and take care of myself. It’s also usually a sign that I need to look for a new job.

The symptoms of burnout are going to be different for everyone. You know yourself better than anyone else, so trust your instincts on this.


How to Combat Burnout Symptoms

simon-migaj-471526-unsplash.jpg

The obvious answer to combatting burnout would be to find a new job. However, not everyone has that ability, especially in cities where the job market is terrible.

Here is some advice to help you manage the stress that burnout causes:

  • Talk to your supervisor or manager about how you’re feeling. They’re not going to fire you if you tell them that you’re unhappy. Hiring and training new employees costs a lot of money. Perhaps there’s a way you can transition to a role that would be more fun for you, or you can take on some added responsibilities that will make you more interested in what you’re doing.
  • Use your resources. Many companies, especially large ones, offer some form of employee counseling or help hotline. Don’t be afraid to utilize these resources! They’re almost always confidential.
  • Find a way to truly relax outside of work. One of the reasons burnout happens is that we feel as though our jobs are taking over our whole lives. It can certainly feel that way. To prevent this from happening, make sure that you’re setting aside time for a relaxing activity or something that makes you feel happy. This could be anything, from meditation to hiking to playing your favorite video game. Prioritize fun and relaxation.

Burnout is a very serious problem in our society, and I’m glad that the World Health Organization sees it that way.

Please get help if you’re feeling the symptoms of burnout. You don’t have to feel miserable. None of us deserve that.



Do you have any advice on dealing with the symptoms of burnout? Let us know in the comments.




Don’t forget to follow me on social media:

Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram | Amazon Wishlist

If you would like to support Read Yourself Happy, you can donate through Ko-Fi!