Why is it so hard to take breaks? - baj.

Why is it so hard to take breaks?

Taking breaks should be a natural and integral part of our daily routines, yet many people, including me, find it challenging to step away from work or responsibilities, even for a short while. This struggle is often more than just a product of modern work culture; it can also stem from deep-seated traumas and past experiences that shape our relationship with rest and productivity. For me it is insanely hard to take any break even though my rational mind and, the older I get, also my body tells me, that I need a time out. A time out to recharge, to get clarity, to preserve, to heal.

A lot of times, the inability to take breaks is rooted in childhood trauma or adverse experiences that have left an indelible mark on one’s psyche. Children who grew up in environments where rest was seen as laziness, or where there was a constant need to prove oneself, often carry these beliefs into adulthood. This can manifest as an incessant drive to keep working, fueled by an underlying fear of inadequacy or failure. The trauma of never feeling "good enough" pushes many of us to overextend themselves, as they equate constant activity with worthiness and success.

In some cases, traumatic experiences related to instability or neglect can lead to a heightened sense of responsibility and the compulsion to remain constantly vigilant. Some of us, who grew up in an unpredictable environment might develop a hyper-awareness of their surroundings and a need to control every aspect of their lives. Taking a break, in this context, can feel dangerous or irresponsible, as it means relinquishing control and potentially allowing for chaos or failure to ensue.

Moreover, trauma can significantly alter the body's stress response system. Individuals with a history of trauma often experience dysregulation in their nervous system, making it difficult to relax or switch off. This heightened state of arousal can lead to chronic stress and burnout, as the body remains in a constant fight-or-flight mode. For these individuals, taking a break does not provide the intended relaxation but rather exacerbates their anxiety, as their minds and bodies struggle to find a sense of safety and calm.

The societal pressure to stay busy and the glorification of overwork further compound these personal struggles, making it even harder for some of us to justify and prioritize our need for breaks.

For me it´s a mix of all the above. I associate breaks with the believe that I have to earn them, with a huge fear of losing control and with losing worth. I associate them with falling behind, or differently said, I tell myself I could be getting so much more shit done without them and would have much more output. This thought is obviously bullshit, I know that, because the more tired I get from constantly being busy the less productive I am, even though I put more and more hours in. This is a losing game and a highway back into hell. It´s not that I haven´t tried so many time to prove this truth to be wrong.

I crashed mentally more than ones and my body collapsed under all this pressure. And to be honest, building this label with all it´s up and downs, being a one woman show, does not really help heal this old pattern. But I see it this way: I accept the challenge every day until I finally change my pattern. It´s a slow process, but as always with mental health and everything connected to it, it will be worth it because on the other side of the pain freedom and health awaits.

Understanding the connection between trauma and the difficulty in taking breaks is crucial here. I needed to cognitively understand why I never stop, why I have the feeling I need to keep on going, no matter what. Recognizing that this struggle is a response to deep-seated fears can help approaching our need for rest with more compassion and understanding. And sometimes we have to also force these breaks before our body and mind is forcing them on us with a sickness.

Ultimately, we must realize that rest is not a reward but a fundamental need. By addressing the trauma that underpins the struggle to take breaks, we can can begin to heal and cultivate a more balanced and fulfilling approach to work and life. Recognizing that taking time to rest and recharge is not only beneficial but essential.

xx baj.

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