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Thoughts on Taking a Break

May 24, 2024

Earlier this month, my three month long break ended. That means I’m roaming the offices at DIVE again, doing my usual thing. What can I say? It’s certainly good to be making money again, and getting some work done.

(I mention money because this was an unpaid vacation. Not a stunt I will ever pull again, as I took a bit of a financial risk. But it might have been worth it just so I could catch a break for a bit.)

I know that in previous posts I’ve called this period a sabbatical, but frankly this break wasn’t long enough for it to really work as one. So, in this post I want to talk about the importance of taking a break and mental rest.

At the very least, I’ve actually been able to unwind, and do what I wanted to do… partially, at least. I’ve also failed at one of my key objectives. (But that is neither here nor there.)

When most people think of breaks or vacations, there’s usually some sort of travel involved and lots of fun activities planned. I don’t really enjoy traveling the world. Perhaps I just don’t do it right, or perhaps I just need to find the right companion. Either way, travel was going to be expensive so it was no-go.

I was pretty much burned out by the time my break started. Not just because of work, but also because of the pressure I’ve put on myself the last few years after a difficult period with some personal development.

My main focus for this recovery period was:

  • Think about what satisfaction I’m getting from my job. I wanted to take a break away from work to see if I’d still enjoy it after some rest, and I suppose we’ll find out where I stand in a couple of weeks when I’ve been at it again for a bit. If the answer is no, I will need to change some of my timelines that I have planned and start searching for something new. For now, though, the plan is to stay at DIVE for a little while longer, especially since there have been some interesting developments at work lately.

  • Rest and read some books. I’ve been reading again, and I’ve also been doing some light writing. Since I’m staring at a lot of written words (code) throughout any normal work day, I have found reading not to be as enjoyable as it could be in the past. During my break with very little programming in sight, I must admit that I have certainly come to love reading again. I hope I can keep it up. I certainly picked up the hardware to motivate me to read more.

  • Establish a timeline for the future. I had originally planned to do a variety of things I’ve been putting off, but as soon as I realized that some of these aren’t really urgent I wanted to establish a list of urgent things for myself. What do I need to work on in order to become happier again? In the short term, it means taking various aspects of my personal life under the microscope and making some changes.

  • Doing nothing. One of the more modern problems that many suffer from is that people barely have any processing time at their disposal. It’s time when we aren’t actively doing something else. With the proliferation of smartphones, we can have our music and social feeds with us, all the time. I wanted to take some time to just sit in the silence and give my brain some time to breathe. This puts me in a creative and self-reflective mood that usually brings me some sense of direction.

I must admit that while I have gotten a lot of rest over the last three months, I don’t feel in a remarkably better mood than I did when my break started. I had hoped that things would shift dramatically, but sadly the dreadful weather has worked against me and as a result my overall mood has been middling at best.1

I plan on remaining as positive as I can be, and capitalizing on positive developments in the future, as I know that action is required for a mood shift to occur. (But you know what, it would help if the weather was any better!)

As the summer approaches, I have some important plans. After those plans come to fruition, it’s probably time for some major lifestyle changes. Until then, I’m taking it one step at a time, as I have now for years.

When I’m closer to where I want to be, I hope to be able to write about it at some point. I want to do a big write-up about mental health too, as it has been a very important topic to me over the last couple of years.2

  1. After going on a few dates with someone before going on break, I also wanted to give online dating a try and I did so during my break. What can I say? I’m pretty sure I am totally wasting my time on these things. I’ve tolerated an excess of dark patterns for quite disappointing experiences. This one is almost worth a blog post, but I don’t think it’d be a very positive one, so I’ll spare you the negativity. 

  2. In particular, emotional starvation and being deprived of affection are two topics that I wish I could write about. I had known that it was tough to go from being appreciated and loved to… not having that in your life, but I have severely underestimated the mental toll it takes on a person. Now is too soon to broach this particular subject, however. It deserves a dedicated blog post as it is also related to a broader topic (maladaptive schemas). 

Tagged as: Personal