5 Things To Consider When A Break Isn’t A Break

When last I wrote, I was talking about taking a peace of mind break by staying away from social media for a week. I thought that with everything going on in my life, I could use the down time to maybe get some reading done, watch some TV or movies, or maybe do some writing. It turns out that things don’t always work out the way you hope they will, especially when you really don’t have a plan.

Mom was resting

For instance, it’s easy to say you’re going to sit down and watch TV and movies. It’s harder to pull off when it’s something you’re not used to doing. I did watch two movies, but I deleted a bunch more that I had recorded on DVR, realizing I really wasn’t interested in watching them. What I was left with were a few movies and some documentaries that were all over 2 hours long. Of the two movies I watched, one of them took me six or seven hours because I couldn’t sit still to watch the entire movie.

When it came to writing, I had a lot of thoughts. However, without the commitment to have to write I didn’t write. That should have felt like I was resting, but I actually didn’t. Writing is one of those things that helps me to escape any issues I feel that might have for a while, but since I wasn’t writing I didn’t have anything else to focus on. I didn’t even write in my journal; I never even opened it.

You know what I missed the most? Social media! I don’t necessarily spend tons of time on social media when I’m on it, but what I realized is that when I’m posting things I tend to get reactions from many people who see it and either want to share it, comment on it, or like it. There’s an odd rush you get when you realize that your words have touched someone, even if every once in a while they don’t like it.

I found that I had trouble concentrating on anything I was doing or not doing because I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t have a plan to sit down and set up a marketing strategy for the rest of the year. I didn’t have a plan for the type of articles I was going to write for all the blogs that I have. I didn’t have a strategy for how I wanted to clean up areas of my house, or put certain things away, or anything else. Without a plan, it was just like time passed by and I was just a part of it.

I had more time to spend with my mother. I’m not going to say that was the worst thing in the world, but Mom and I can’t talk anymore because of her dementia. The lady next door who usually comes to sit with my mother during the week for a couple of hours is out of town for 3 weeks, so it was just Mom and me. Throw in Labor Day, and that meant I had an extra day to spend with Mom, since she usually goes to the senior center 3 days a week.

The late birthday cake
I bought for myself

What that basically means is that I spent a lot of time setting up TV shows and movies for Mom, giving her meals and treats and desserts and liquids to keep her going throughout the day, while I went to my computer and basically sat there not doing anything except constantly seeing if there was a chess move for me to make on one of the two sites I’m on. I did play a version of Scrabble on Facebook without looking at any messages, but that’s about it. It was definitely a struggle, and I felt lesser for it than I expected.

I started to wonder what other people actually do when they say they’re going to take a break from something; I’m going to have to ask Evelyn Parham about it because she takes breaks all the time.

Do people actually get to go out and enjoy themselves somewhere? I did get to go to the casino one day for a few hours, but for some reason it just didn’t feel like it does on other times that I go to the casino. I couldn’t wait to get back home, and that’s just not supposed to happen.

In any case, I did learn some lessons and I’m going to share some ideas you should consider if you decide one day that you need to take a break, social media or otherwise. Just so you know, some of these I couldn’t do, but it doesn’t mean I can’t recommend them. πŸ™‚

1. Reach out to some of your friends that you haven’t been able to talk to for a while and say hello.

This is one I couldn’t do because I don’t have a lot of friends outside of social media, and those I have I talk to on a regular basis. I couldn’t even call most of them long distance because I’m still suffering from when my computer got wiped out last October. Thing is, a lot of those people I talk to on social media, so in essence I’ve isolated myself and that’s never a good thing to do.

2. Reach out to family members you haven’t talked to in a while.

This is a strange one for me because in general I don’t talk to my family members all that often. Being a military kid, I never got really close to most of my family members on either side, and as I’ve gotten older I feel more separated from them then I did as a kid. I did talk to two family members, one of whom I talk to all the time and the other one who called me out of the blue, but when I finally got back to him he only talked to me for 4 minutes. So much for my family, but at least we’re connected on Facebook. Of course, none of them know when my birthday is, but I don’t go around telling any of them (but I’ll tell you since it was last Tuesday lol). In any case, I’m sure your family members may be more accessible, so take advantage of free time and reestablish those family connections that I hear are wonderful things.

3. Make a plan.

I’ve mentioned this many times already, but it’s crucial to have a plan to follow. I had nothing; in my other article I said I might write, I might watch TV, but that’s pretty much all I had. I didn’t do any of that. True, I had some personal stuff that I had to get finished, but I finished that relatively quickly so I had no excuses not to do anything else. It’s not normally in my nature not to have planned something, but because I’m not used to taking a break from anything I had nothing to fall back on.

4. Try to get away for at least a day or two.

I did mention that I went to the casino, but that was only for a few hours and it was on a day when my mother was at the senior center for a little while. Truth be told, being the primary caregiver and having the one person who could sit with your mother for a little bit of time out of town, I really couldn’t do anything.

I had a wild thought about driving down to Pennsylvania to get some Krispy Kreme donuts, which would have taken 5 hours out of my day, but I told myself that was a bad idea because if something happened to my car there was nobody who could have gotten my mother.

Try to find a way to go somewhere, even if it’s only a couple of hours away or you only stay for a couple of hours and see something that you wanted to see or that you never even thought about seeing. I have a couple of online friends who share wonderful pictures of places around Central New York that I’ve never been to and never heard of that I would love to be able to see. That’s something I’m going to have to plan for one of these days.

5. The most important one I have, and I’m not sure if I’m talking to the Right audience, but don’t get yourself locked into social media.

Like I said, I don’t spend tons of time on social media, but I do spend regular time on it. When I decided it was time to go back on social media I went to Facebook first where I saw I had 89 notifications. Out of all those notifications, only seven were specifically for me. That felt empty, but the truth is if you don’t post anything on social media or you’re not interacting with something that someone else post on social media, you’re pretty much invisible and a non-entity.

Social media works way too fast for people to miss you unless you have an intimate relationship with them. When I went on LinkedIn I only had three messages after an entire week away. What I went on Twitter I only had five messages after a week away. That means that after being off social media for a week, once I got on social media I had 10 to 15 minutes worth of stuff to respond to and then I shut it down again.

I need a life, and I recommend that if you start feeling this way that you probably need an alternate life as well.

That’s all I’ve got, and I think it’s enough. Hopefully next week I’ll get back to the normal types of things that I write on this blog and that I write the normal things that I write on other blog as well. Hope you all had a very good week, and that it was a lot better than mine. πŸ˜‰

16 thoughts on “5 Things To Consider When A Break Isn’t A Break”

  1. I take mental breaks, frequently. My attitude has evolved to the point where I don’t do anything until I am good and ready.

    This specifically relates to work only. LOL.

    However, I find that these breaks are what others might call recharging my batteries. It just works.

    I actually see nothing wrong with your account of how your break went. Not getting stuff done is kind of the point. πŸ™‚



    1. Yours is an interesting take on this break thing. I only thought about it as a social media break, but I really needed an “everything” break when all is said and done. Even there, it’s something I’ve never quite done, at least since I’ve been self employed. When I was being paid I did it a couple of times, but only once I got used to the idea that I had to take two weeks off because I was a mess that first week. lol

  2. Hi Mitch, how about going to some networking events to get out? Just to mingle and such. Do you go out with your wife much? I do with my hubby when he’s not working.
    I found it hard when I left the cubicle to keep with friends from work. I don’t much anymore but I have a few friends I see every now and then. I do visit with clients a few times a week and I hope to make a networking event just to get out and socialize off of the computer. Actually, I did do a walk with a woman I met on Twitter years ago, we had lunch a few weeks back and made plans to meet for a walk when she works in the area. It was good to do that!
    I think if you make a plan it will help you to get away for any period of time.

    1. Hi Lisa. I haven’t been to a networking event all year. I’m part of a consulting group but we were off for the summer and I haven’t seen those folks since May. These days it’s mainly me by myself unless I’m staying home with Mom. I haven’t been to the lake as often as I like to go because I’ve had a lot of extraneous commitments, including physical therapy on my shoulder. Still, live networking is more stress than I’m ready for at the present time. Maybe I’ll get over myself one of these days. lol

  3. It is easieer if you are engaged in time consuming hobbies like solving crossword puzzles, sudoku etc and also if you ar a voracious reader. I have no porblem keeping myself occupied because of the above activities.

    1. I actually read a book but I finished it in an hour. I play sudoku but usually only at night and for less than 30 minutes at a time unless I’m close to finishing it. Otherwise, the only hobby I have is poker, and it’s hard to play that at home on your own. πŸ™‚

  4. Hey Mitch! I somewhat have a plan when I stop being active online. But, it doesn’t always goes a planned.

    Since I am a caregiver to my daughter, I’m always doing something with her and taking breaks from being online helps me recharge.

    I usually find that I am more creative and motivated to write and create content after being away.

    You don’t need a plan to take a break, just stepping away and enjoying life is key to relaxing the mind and the body.

    Thanks for mention and for sharing what you learned!

    1. It always seems something gets in the way and takes away any potential enjoyment. Then again, as I said, it’s something I’m not really used to doing. If I win the lottery I’ll start practicing it lol

  5. Hi Mitch,

    First off…Happy belated birthday to you.

    Being a primary caretaker takes so much time and energy. I know because I’ve done so with my In-laws. I know the feeling of getting away but your mind is on your mom. All those “what if’s” cross your mind like what if your car broke down….who will step up to care for your mom?

    I would suggest those mental breaks during the day like playing a game online or completing a small task around the house. It does give a little sense of accomplishment sometimes.

    But getting away is something you probably need to do. When I was taking care of my in-laws who were gravely ill, I would hire a caretaker for two days to sleep over. It was worth every penny. But my father-in-law didn’t like it, but he had dementia and was agitated at almost anything that was new to him.

    It was all part of the illness and I knew if I needed to be a good caretaker, I needed to care for myself. I’m just sharing this because I found it difficult to leave with a clear head, but after two days, it had done me a world of good. So I was able to have the energy to care for him when I returned.

    Sorry to ramble on, but care taking takes its toll on us and we have to find ways to take a break.


    1. Thanks for this Donna. My cousin is coming up from Miami this weekend to stay with Mom for a couple of nights. You have a good idea of hiring a caretaker for Mom for a couple of days so I can get away, but I’m leery of having someone in the house that I don’t know, although I could lock all the doors in the house so that person couldn’t get into anything I wouldn’t want them to be trying to search. Obviously it would have to be a “she” for Mom; at least it’s something to think about.

      I have a tasks list and, when I can, I try to get to at least one thing a day. I’m right where I need to be, and starting to feel a little better. πŸ™‚

  6. Thank you for the article, Mitch. It surely will be a food of thought for me if and when I consider to take a break myself. It is true that you might be getting a little confused when you don’t have a plan/schedule on what to do during a day, especially when you are already getting used to having a plan made to go with your activities.

    Regarding the social media point on your post, I myself seldom use it as I prefer to meet a person directly when I want to talk to them. But it is true that if you are not active in social media, there will be less and less people who will contact you through it. I agree that we should not spend too much time on it and probably take the time which should be spent there to be more productive in doing other work.

    And I love the points on reaching out to friends and family members. It is always invaluable to maintain and improve relationship with the people close to you.

    1. First, thanks for all your comments Daniel. I’ve been on a short hiatus but I’m going to get to all of your comments now.

      The problem with meeting many people in person is that when what you do isn’t necessarily geared towards the local populace, it’s hard to meet people that way. My main business has to be national since it’s working with hospitals, and there’s no way I could meet all those folks in person without a dual commitment. It goes the same for a lot of what I do; if I sold insurance meeting lots of local people is the way to go, but for almost everything I do I depend on social media to help me open doors.

  7. Thank you for the article, Mitch. It surely will be a food of thought for me if and when I consider to take a break myself. It is true that you might be getting a little confused when you don’t have a plan/schedule on what to do during a day, especially when you are already getting used to having a plan made to go with your activities.

    1. Thanks Long. I’m not one who does a lot of things without planning them so my break ended up being a big waste of time. Not the worst of course but I didn’t really rest all that much.

  8. There are some melancholy truths in this post.

    First, I’m with our friend Mitchell A on this “break” thing – an “everything break” IS kind of the point, if you need to recharge your batteries.

    If you’re just feeling negative about social media and need a “break from” it, or something else, then the point would be to fill that time with other things – or to actively work at DISCOVERING OTHER THINGS – that you enjoy.

    And as Rumuser says, some of us just have no trouble at all happily filling our time with other things like books, puzzles – in my case, crochet projects, art, long walks in the park – things OTHERS may dismiss as “wasted time,” but when WE see it as “wasted,” then it truly is. I think this is the mistake some men make when they retire – they stop doing THE thing that fills their days and gives them their identity. Even the irritation and annoyance of Twitter and Facebook is better than having your identity dry up and shrivel and blow away on a whisper and a whimper.

    YOU have your mom to care for, but you won’t always. Start planning NOW for the time you’ll have to fill when you retire and she’s not there. Think of THIS break as a warning – and plan better for the next one.

    1. That’s good stuff Holly. Truthfully, I’ve always been bad at taking breaks, and being self employed I’ve had some of them forced onto me over the years… and none of them felt all that good. I’m in another self imposed break for the rest of the year, but this time I didn’t exclude social media… though I’ve only created one thing in the last week or so. I figure I’ll get there eventually; I usually do when I have the time to think about it.

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