Productivity, for me, has become what could be considered a minor addiction. You too may experience a rush of satisfaction when crossing off a pesky task, surveying a perfectly tidy room, or hearing a timer's ringing after two hours of focused work. Perhaps it is my love for academia that has pushed me to this, or perhaps it is deep-rooted perfectionism. Either way, taking time for self care seems out of the question if it hinders productivity.

This mindset, however, is a one-way ticket to frustration, fatigue, and eventual burnout. We must teach ourselves to view breaks in a different light, as necessities which contribute to our work cycle by rejuvenating and cultivating the growth of further productivity.

If you are in the same position as me, do not fret – this article details a few steps that will reframe your view of self care and break-taking. Let's begin!

fashion, style, and accessories image black, bread, and breakfast image

I. Implement Productive Breaks

It is true that the type of break you choose does bear certain significance. Some activities refresh you for the next section of work, whilst others dull your mind and leave you craving more relaxation. Instead of aimlessly scrolling through social media or wandering to the fridge and back again, it is imperative that you be intentional with your choices. Breaks are supposed to feel fulfilling, otherwise they truly are not worth the time! The following breaks often prove satisfying to me:

  • Taking a moment to prepare a delicious, healthy snack, such as Greek yogurt with fresh berries, rye bread with slices of tomato and garlic, or a smoothie.
  • Reading uplifting articles on We Heart It.
  • Tidying my workspace or re-organising my desk for a fresh environment.
  • Clearing out my computer desktop.
  • Texting a friend, checking in wholeheartedly.
  • Making a warm, comforting cup of tea.
  • Putting on a face mask and listen to music.
  • Going on a short, refreshing walk (dog optional).
  • Lying down for the duration of one song, with eyes closed and deep breaths taken.

Remember to choose what works for you and add to this list as you go. It may help to write each option on a slip of paper and place these into a jar on your desk for easy access. This allows for a swift, decisive choice of a break activity after a tiring productivity session.

breakfast image bathroom, beauty, and classy image

II. Decline and Delegate

Sometimes, the best form of self care for a productivity-obsessed person is saying no. It is important not to pile your already-full plate any higher, as this will only increase stress levels and give you even less time for self care. If an opportunity presents itself to you that is not particularly exciting, teach yourself to politely decline the offer. An important reminder:

You can do anything but you cannot do everything.

Focus on putting your best effort into a few select areas, and let yourself "off the hook" with others. To avoid feeling guilty about doing so, tell yourself that this is for your own health and happiness. It is therefore absolutely valid!

Last semester, overwhelmed by academics, I turned down an offer to participate in a public speaking event with my club, and after days of indecision, I felt a wash of relief and calm once the reply was sent. You can do the same!

fashion, style, and outfit image Image removed

III. Embrace Non-Competitive Hobbies

Besides temporary breaks, allowing yourself to partake in longer-term hobbies is equally important for self care. Having at least one creative hobby instead of relying on consumptive ones (e.g. shopping) will allow you to enrich your life. Cycle through the following until you find something that you adore:

  • Embroidery (something I would like to experiment with!)
  • Knitting or finger-knitting
  • Gardening
  • Cooking or baking
  • Wood-whittling
  • Book-binding
  • Painting or illustrating
  • Writing (poems, books, articles, blogs)
  • Playing an instrument
  • Needle-felting

Ensure that whatever you choose, the hobby involves holding the fruits of your labour in your hands. You do not have to be "good" at it – this is not a career choice. Watching yourself grow and have fun with it is success in and of itself. That, surely, is productivity enough!

fruit, food, and healthy image fashion, girl, and style image

IV. Create Reminders

Finally, for those who truly cannot bring themself to step away from work to take care of themselves, it may be necessary to construct physical reminders in your space. For example, stick notes on your wall with messages like "have a break","you have done well!", et cetera... whatever will speak you when a toxic need for productivity becomes overwhelming. Alternatively, you could set break reminders on your phone, create a jar with a list of rejuvenating activities (as recommended in Part I), or download images that inspire healthy relaxation options. Keep your hobby materials close at hand if you feel a surge of creative energy.

Eventually, you will train yourself to take breaks at regular intervals, and let me assure you – this will do nothing but aid the efficiency of your work in the future. Self care is undeniably necessary for good mental health.

Image removed coffee, drink, and breakfast image

I encourage you to allocate some time for yourself today, tomorrow, and continually. Productivity is not everything, as hard as that is for us perfectionists and workaholics to believe. I believe in you – wholeheartedly!

Ut semper,
Elsa | @studylatin

Have you checked out these collections and articles?

This article was written by @studylatin for the We Heart It Writers Team.