Take a Break Before You Break!

The burden of not taking a break 

As women I think we are more prone to not knowing our limits, and taking a break.  Iram Sajid from the UK says, “there’s no such thing as rest days anymore with 4 kids with me 24/7.”

It times of crisis, domestic workloads remain unequal. Responsibilities placed on women in the household are much heavier. Women are homeschooling their children, working, and still seeing to most of the household responsibilities.

Most women are of the opinion of if I don’t do it who will.  If we just get through this mountain of laundry and reports I will take a break. That moment usually never comes until we lay down to sleep utterly exhausted every single night. 

And what is this doing? Many feeling stuck, anxious, having never-ending fatigue, and leaving them with trauma-inducing unresolved issues. Emotions that we don’t allow ourselves the time to work through. Because there is just no time between work, family and chores. 

Brooke Benoit, Family and Life editor at AboutIslam says, “I am a big advocate for self care, even running retreats for women to take full breaks from their daily lives. While I do take as good care of myself as a single mom of many can, my brain and body needed a break.

Suddenly I was given the kind of break that can only come from something extreme, like being caught outside your borders when airports close down. I never would have done this for myself. Even though I was anxious and stressed out for the first several weeks, I tried to take advantage and do a lot of personal growth work.”

Benoit continues, “I came to realize that I hadn’t had any chance to address my divorce and poor marriage. It’s difficult to do deep emotional work, then turn around and care for children. I now really understand why many women who attend my own retreats are divorced. They found the foresight to take a healing break. Alhumdulillah, I was forced to take one.”

Making your break work for you

Taking a break is about knowing your boundaries and capitalizing on small breaks throughout the day. There shouldn’t be any guilt if we need some space from our children and spouse.

Melissa Ghomi, a mom of two in the UK says, “I take long baths whenever I can. I will make sure the kids  are schooled and fed, but will allow the cleaning to wait an hour.

Until last week I was shopping alone and leaving the kids with my husband for 2 hrs on Saturdays, but last week I took the kids with me again and used the 2 hrs Saturday to wander around the high street alone and take a walk. We had a Turkey trip in June and a Wales trip for August. Turkey was cancelled but we will go to Wales as it’s amongst nature and staying in a private cabin.”

Just switching off your phone can make a huge difference. Many of us think using our phones is resting. After all, we’re sitting and scrolling or playing games. However, it’s exhausting because we need to process the sensory input and our brain doesn’t switch off during the process.

Try not taking your phone with you everywhere. It’s tempting to do work when you have work with you  all the time. If you absolutely can’t switch off, a good way  is to turn off push notifications for your work apps and email. That way you can check  at your own times, with a view to weaning yourself off doing it all the time.

However, if you find yourself checking it more often than if you had notifications, you might need to just switch it off. 

According to Forbes magazine knitting is making a big comeback. Crafts like knitting keep our hands and minds busy and can be therapeutic. The most important thing is to enjoy getting lost in the moment.

Be present just in the immediate moment. The best you can do is letting go of the guilt associated with taking a break.

A break can really help rejuvenate your soul and according to science keep you healthy and productive. Don’t get to the point of screaming, “I need a break!” It’s often too late then.

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About Fatima Bheekoo-Shah
Fatima Bheekoo-Shah is the author of "Saffron" (A collection of personal narratives by Muslim women), a freelance writer and book reviewer. She resides in Gauteng, South Africa. A book nerd and avid reader, Fatima is always looking for her next great read.