With safety guidelines loosening in many parts of the world, it means that families and friends can finally look forward to spending time to be physically together.

 

Unless you’re a freelancer or you’re in the process of growing your own business.

 

Unlike employees, freelancers and business owners don’t get paid when they take a break from work. So, when you close shop for even a day, you won’t earn anything.

 

This is perhaps why 92% of freelancers and 43% of small business owners don’t take a break from work.

 

Why You Feel You Can’t Take a Break

 

Scared to Lose Clients

 

Sad but true.

 

There are clients out there that will take it against you if you take a break from work. It was a sobering business lesson I had to learn (and stomach) as an entrepreneur a couple of years back.

 

Town fiestas are a big deal in many provinces here in the Philippines. So, a week before our town fiesta, I messaged all my clients advising when my team and I would be out of the office.

 

All of them had no problem about it, except one. This particular client sent me a heated—bordering on abusive—reply exclaiming that she isn’t paying my team and me to take any breaks. The client even threatened to terminate our contract if we proceeded with taking the leave.

 

If you’re just starting out, getting a response like that from a client can be enough for you to cancel all your vacation plans.

 

Lower Take-Home Pay

 

According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, there are five things that we need to grow and become the best versions of ourselves. One of these is the need to feel safe and secure.

 

 

That’s why having an unstable income is a major concern reported by 75% of freelancers. It can be extremely stressful thinking whether or not you’ve earned enough money to pay all your bills and keep your business going.

 

The only way to relieve the unsettling feeling is by taking the necessary steps to regain that feeling of security.

 

For business owners and freelancers, that usually means choosing to work during the holiday season.

 

Dreading the Backlog

This is, admittedly, why I struggle to take a break from work.

 

Whether you’re building a business or working for someone, you got so much stuff to do that. At times, it can feel like 24 hours isn’t enough to finish everything you need to accomplish in a day.

 

So the thought of taking even a day off from work can be downright scary and overwhelming.

 

Now, Here’s Why You Need to Take a Break

 

1. It Helps Prevent Burnout

 

 

A while back, I wrote an article sharing my personal experience with burnout. In that article, I shared that one of the reasons why I burned out was because I didn’t allow myself time to completely shut everything work-related off.

 

As soon as I wake up, I would make my way to my workspace at home and start working. I won’t stop until the wee hours of the morning, or when I start to feel sleepy (whichever came first).

 

Even when I would go and visit my parents before the pandemic, I would drag my laptop with me and work while I’m there.

 

Yes, I had a goal, a dream, and a vision I was going after.

 

But the reality is that your body and mind can only take so much.

 

Think about it: Our gadgets are designed to be used for long hours at a time. But if we want them to always perform at their optimum level, we need to shut them down once in a while. If not, they can overheat and get damaged.

 

If we allow our gadgets to take a break, why do we feel guilty when we take a break from work?

 

2. Bring Balance Back to Your Life

 

 

Years back, my mom was diagnosed to be a borderline diabetic.

 

Since she was told that it could still be reversed, she began to take steps to change her lifestyle. One of these was changing the things that she ate.

 

She found out that ampalaya (bitter melon) can help lower blood sugar levels. So, she began incorporating it into her diet by eating this along with all of her meals. She also began doing other healthy habits to help her lower her blood sugar levels.

 

One day, she began complaining about feeling extremely weak, light-headed, and her heart was racing. Fearing that she was suffering from a heart attack, we rushed her to the hospital.

 

We were told that she was suffering from hypoglycemia. Turns out that all the seemingly healthy habits she was doing caused her blood sugar to go way down.

 

The moral of this story: We need balance in our lives if we want to become the best version of ourselves.

 

Indeed, too much of anything—good or bad—is unhealthy.

 

Being dedicated to your work or your business is great. However, don’t let it come to the point where it’s become your world.

 

Remember: Your professional life is only one facet of your entire being.

 

To become a healthy and well-balanced person, you need to pay attention to the other facets of your life like your family, yourself, your spirituality, and your community.

 

3. Reconnect with Your “Why”

 

Freelancers average around 47 hours each week working.

 

 

Small business owners, on the other hand, can work up to 14 hours a day. That’s a whopping 95 hours per week!

 

When you’re working so many hours, it’s easy to lose sight of the real reason why you’re working so hard these past few weeks and months.

 

Taking a break from work gives you the chance to reconnect with that reason why you’re doing what you’re doing.

 

4. You Become More Productive

 

woman being productive at work

 

Sounds counterintuitive, I know.

 

However, research shows that people become more productive when they take a break from work once in a while.

 

That’s because when you make time to take a break from work, give yourself and your brain to recharge.

 

Scheduling to take a break from work also gives you something to look forward to and pursue.

 

This was what my team shared with me during one of our meetings.

 

A week before, I learned that travel restrictions were easing up. So, I decided that my team and I would take a day trip. I instructed them that no one was going to talk about anything work-related during the entire trip. We were all going to just have fun, relax, and bond as a team.

 

During our meeting, they told me how as the date of our day trip approached, they observed how they’re more quickly able to finish all their assigned tasks. In some cases, some of our deliverables were completed ahead of schedule.

 

5. Build Stronger Personal Relationships

 

 

Although technology helped us stay connected with friends and loved ones while we’re in lockdown, you have to admit it’s not the same as being with them in the same space.

 

As human beings, we need that connection to become healthy and well-balanced individuals.

 

Now that restrictions eased up to the point that many of us can physically meet up, why not grab the opportunity to take a break from work and spend time with the people that matter most to you?

 

In these times we’re living in, these moments are extremely precious, especially now that the holidays are here once again.

 

6. Find New Opportunities

 

There’s a saying: “Opportunity only knocks once.”

 

The problem is that when you’ve been doing the same thing for weeks, months, or years, you go around with imaginary blinders on either side. So, even though a great opportunity comes knocking, you don’t see it. Eventually, it slips away.

 

Other times, you see and recognize the opportunity. But because it’s something completely new to you, you don’t grab it because it’s outside your comfort zone.

 

When you disconnect from everything you’ve grown accustomed to and open yourself to the world around you, you’ll be surprised with how much the world has to offer.

 

Now, opportunities here don’t have to be limited to business ideas (although you can get that).

 

It can be discovering a new hobby you enjoy or brushing up on a skill you’ve long swept under the rug simply because you keep telling yourself that you just don’t have the time for it.

 

7. Focus on Yourself

 

woman deciding to take a break from work

 

When was the last time that you put yourself and your needs before everyone else?

 

If you can’t answer this question quickly, don’t worry! You’re not alone.

 

And frankly, I don’t blame you.

 

After all, we’ve been taught that being selfish is bad and should be avoided at all costs.

 

Sadly, in many cultures, the mere thought of putting yourself before others around you equates to being selfish.

 

This is especially true among women since they were brought up with a mindset that the needs of their spouses, children, and even their parents should come first.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be concerned for their needs.

 

But think about it: How can you do a good job caring for everyone else if you’re sickly and falling apart?

 

That’s why it’s perfectly okay that you take a break from work and even all of your other household duties even for an hour.

 

This allows you to decompress and recharge physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, so you can effectively attend to the things and people that matter most.

 

Give Yourself Permission to Take Breaks at Work

 

You are the most important asset of your business because its success or failure is dependent on how well you run it.

 

This is why you need to make sure that you take care of yourself.

 

As you’ve seen in this article, the benefits you get when you take a break from work outweigh the disadvantages.

 

So go ahead!

 

Give yourself permission to do so.

 

You are worth it.

 

Now, Over to You…

 

What’s the one step you’ll do today so that you can allow yourself to take a break from work without feeling guilty? Share it in the comments below.



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