Take a Break

May 24, 2019

Categories: Rest

I want to talk to you today about a simple intervention that can save you a ton of headaches and increase your productivity and happiness: Take a break.

Anger and Frustration

Sometimes my work can be frustrating. I spend a lot of my time writing, and it can be difficult to figure out how to communicate ideas clearly. Recently I was editing a manuscript, and I started to get frustrated. I knew what we had down wasn’t great. The writing and presentation of results was disorganized and confusing. I kept trying to move sections around and re-write certain parts of the paper. The paper didn’t seem to be improving. In fact, I wondered if I was making it worse.

I started to get frustrated, both with the writing project and myself as a writer. I even started to get angry with my colleague who drafted the paper. “This paper is terrible,” I told myself. “Why didn’t my colleague do a better job of drafting it?” “I’m spending all my time on this stupid paper, and it isn’t getting any better!”

My anger and frustration didn’t help me think any clearer. In fact, I think my anger and frustration made the situation worse.

Take a Break

When I get in situations like these, I need to take a break. I need to put down my laptop, and do something else. Maybe move on to a different project, or even exercise or watch a movie. Whatever it is, I need to put the project aside and take a break from it.

After I take a break, when I get back to the project a day or two later, I’m in a better place emotionally and can think more clearly. I usually have better results.


The advice to take a break can help our relationships as well. When I am angry or frustrated, it is difficult for me to think and communicate clearly. I might say something to my friend or family member I regret later. A better option is to take a break and cool down, and come back to the discussion at a later date.


The key is to be self-aware and notice when I am getting angry and frustrated. For me, I notice my muscles in my face and neck start to tense up. I get antsy and might start bouncing my leg. Those are my “cues” that it might be time to take a break.

Come Back Later

Most of the time in life, it’s okay to take a break and come back to something later. There usually isn’t a rule that says we need to finish a project or deal with an interpersonal issue right this second. Because the reality is, when you are feeling angry or frustrated, you are less likely to be successful in whatever it is you are trying to accomplish.

This is true whether you are writing a paper or trying to resolve a conflict with your spouse.

If you take a break and come back to it when you are feeling more at ease and peaceful, you are more likely to be able to direct your energy to discover a creative solution to your problem.

So… I think I will follow my own advice and put away the frustrating paper for now. I will get to it another day.

And that’s okay.


What are your “cues” when you are getting angry and frustrated? Next time you notice yourself feeling that way, try to take a break and get back to it another day. Did this strategy work?


Related Thoughts


  1. JAJ November 24, 2014 at 12:28 pm - Reply

    Sorry I’m late commenting…just woke up from a nap…just came off the beach…just was walking through a prarie…just ended my bike ride…OH, OK, I’m a big fat liar! I was busy working, busy looking at houses, busy sending emials, busy getting caught up, busy reading that chapeter for work!!!
    I had no “break” this weekend. That’s not good. Thanks for this reminder of how important breaks are in life!

  2. Joshua Hook November 30, 2014 at 11:06 pm - Reply

    Haha, hope you got a chance to take a break on your holiday this past week!

  3. Jenn September 5, 2016 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    Shoot, what does it mean that my leg is always bouncing???! My mom constantly comments. She says I just have too much energy. Maybe I am frustrated more often than not! Ha!

  4. Joshua Hook September 7, 2016 at 6:22 pm - Reply

    Haha, I bounce my leg sometimes too! I’m not sure what it means. Perhaps it’s better to have too much energy than too little?

  5. […] reaction, because your engine is running too hot. In times like these, press the pause button and take a break. Go for a walk. Go somewhere by yourself so you can cool […]

  6. Nice Job… So Far – Joshua N. Hook September 11, 2020 at 11:19 am - Reply

    […] Far?” Do you struggle with recognizing and celebrating your progress? If so, maybe it’s time to take a break and reward yourself for what you have accomplished so far. Or, do you have difficulties following […]

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