Personal & Faith

Learning How to Take a Break

I’m trying to teach myself to slow down. I’m starting to realise, that all too often I overwork myself. There are so many things i want to do, that instead of giving up one, I sacrifice sleep and rest. And it’s starting to catch up with me.

I came to this realisation about a week ago, when I woke up incredibly sick, for about the millionth time this year. I had to cancel a lot of fun plans with friends, and just sat at home all week trying to get better. I guess my body is just so rundown that i’m a sitting target now – i’m always the first to get sick, and the last to get better. I guess weeks of only a few hours sleep are starting to hurt…

It’s not easy for me to admit i need to slow down though… it feels somewhat like a defeat to admit I can’t work so hard. I come from a very motivated, hard working family – I honestly I can’t recall a time in my life when i saw my parents idle. They were always doing something. They are the hardest working, most successful people I know, and they never quit. And so of course, I want to be that too. I almost can’t help it. On one hand, it’s a good thing – i know that. It means I’m very productive, and I’d rather die than be lazy. On the other hand, I think I’m breaking myself.

So one step at a time, one 5 minute interval at a time, I’m learning to take a break. To let my heart accept not doing a project i’m excited about. To just sit with my kids on the couch and enjoy the moment, not worrying about what work needs to be done. And just be.

About Author

Meg is the Founder and Creative Director of Megan Nielsen Patterns, and is constantly dreaming up ideas for new sewing patterns and ways to make your sewing journey more enjoyable! She gets really excited about design details and is always trying to add way too many variations to our patterns.

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12 years ago

Ah, Megan! You could’ve written these words for me too! My other half keeps asking me “why can’t you just sit down and do nothing?!” He doesn’t understand my constant need to be productive. (He thinks it’s my Catholic guilt upbringing, lol!) Even when I sit down I have to be busy knitting, blogging, Etsy’ing or something. Each time I have even the smallest gap of time I think to myself “What job could I squeeze into that 1/2 hour?” I also often take on too much, simply because there’s soooo much I want to do, but unfortunately not enough hours in the day to do it all!
A big part of me gets a huge kick and sense of satisfaction out of getting all these things done but another part of me kinda wishes I could be happy to just stop and do nothing. But I find it near impossible to do. My mother always kept 2-3 jobs on the go as a single parent and as a consequence I don’t think I have it in me to be anything other than constantly busy. That is until, every few weeks or so, illness or exhaustion (no doubt brought on by overstretching myself constantly) force me to drop some of the balls I’ve been juggling.
To summarise a very long comment, I TOTALLY identify!
Anyway, Elliott is napping for an hour so I have some household accounts to do and some blog posts to work on…..;)

12 years ago

Good for you! It’s so easy to say yes and get excited, then overwhelmed. Kudos to you for taking a step back. :)

Emily McIntyre
12 years ago

Wow, Megan. I completely resonate with you. I also come from a dedicated, passionate, and hardworking family, and I find in myself immense frustration and guilt if I cannot accomplish all that is in my mind to do. Becoming pregnant and losing 70% of my energy and gumption hasn’t helped either!

I’m learning to do the same thing; to choose quality of life over productivity at times, knowing that by doing so I am actively helping my family and relationships. Learning to breathe.

Good luck. I hope you feel better soon!

Van@The Clothes We Wear

This sounds all too familiar, Megan! I was raised on the value of hard work. My parents immigrated to America from Vietnam and built a life, family and a business from nothing–all through hard work (and trial & error). It’s all I know. I used to be the kind of person who only required a minimum of 4 hours sleep to function (and an all nighter at least once a week was not unheard of), but then I had my son and the lack of sleep was no longer practical. It was and still is a hard lesson to learn. To accept that I can’t possibly do everything and well, it’s okay. To find a balance is a challenge and it’s about learning to prioritize. At the top of my list is time with family. That’s definitely not a failure. Takes practice, for sure!

12 years ago

Lurker here… love your blog. As a Type B personality who thrives at a slower pace (no matter how badly I wish I was Type A!), just wanted to offer some encouragement. So often I think it’s tempting to see life as either productive *or* lazy. But truthfully, there are many more shades of life. :) I like how you end here with “just be.” There is value to that! To being truly present in the moment, to giving your brain enough quiet to think and be creative, to build relationships with those around you (relationship building is one of those things that cannot be rushed and can feel maddeningly “unproductive,” yet ultimately, can result in the most meaningful, rewarding aspects of life!). Anyway, enough from me… just wanted to say, slowing down doesn’t mean cutting back on important or valuable ways to spend time… it’s just a different kind of “productive.” :)

12 years ago

Maybe you just need to be more aware of when you are going to bed. As a super busy person myself, I just make sure that I am in bed by 9pm, even if I am not tired. I will read or knit. Just something to pass the time until I feel sleepy. Once I got the pattern down, just getting in bed makes my body feel tired.

12 years ago

Oh Meg! I hope you’re feeling more like yourself soon!


[…] almost had a break down from how much work I’ve been doing, and realised I need to find some more balance in my […]