I have a love-hate relationship with the Silicon Valley.
That’s a bit of a tricky thing to admit given that I’m pretty invested in this strange land that I call home, but I do give it the title of “home” with some amount of reluctance.
(Taken on my trip to Fish Camp last weekend in the midst of knitting, reading, and chatting with a friend. Not pictured: Hershey’s bar buried under my knitting 😇 )
To illustrate my internal tension: my brain is always bursting with ideas and creative activity that needs an outlet, but in my heart I see myself as a rural small-town girl.
I love living in San Jose amidst the Silicon Valley backdrop because the culture validates my love for ideas, movement, and innovation.
However, the small-town girl inside of me is also always begging to get out. And if I don’t regularly give her the chance to come out, the awesome innovative side of me can start to look more like anxiety, perfectionism, and a need to overachieve. It’s not a cute look. More importantly, I’m not embodying my best self.
I admit all of this because I think most of us need to find a balance with our slower, childlike, playful selves. And yet, it isn’t always encouraged to do so in the contexts we find ourselves in. For many of my clients, it can seem like work, home, church, and other major aspects of life all demand drive and productivity.
Research has remained consistent for decades that routine breaks, rest, and play inserted throughout the day are correlated with greater productivity (to learn more check out: Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less). The problem is, when we’re in the middle of crossing off our to-dos, it inevitably feels counterproductive to set our tasks aside and take a break: take a nap, go for a walk, read a book, play with our kids, eat a meal without multitasking. However, the reality is that taking intentional breaks allows us to be more productive overall than if we didn’t allow ourselves those breaks.
I have a rule for myself that I need to go to the beach at least once a week. I know that can sound rather luxurious, and I’m grateful I have the privilege of creating my own work schedule to do so. However, many weeks I find myself driving through the Santa Cruz mountains towards the beach knowing I’ll only have 20 or 30 minutes available to spend before I need to get back in the car and drive back. For me, those 20 minutes are far more impactful than if I had spent the time sitting at home, watching TV, or working.
I also try to get away for at least one night every month. “Away” doesn’t need to mean away from my loved ones, but for me it does mean away from Silicon Valley. This past weekend I spent a glorious two nights with friends and family at a cabin in Fish Camp, a quaint little town just outside the southern entrance to Yosemite National Park (see photo above).
If that sounds luxurious, it sure was. If it sounds expensive, it wasn’t. I love finding opportunities to stay with friends near and far, and returning the favor by hosting when they come to town. Self care doesn’t have to require deep pockets.
Other restful breaks for me include daily yoga and gardening rituals, technology-free meals with family and friends, and crafting/DIY projects galore.
I take lots of breaks in life. And yet, sometimes I surprise myself with how much I get done when I look back on the week. I hope you feel encouraged to experiment with what kinds of rest are most impactful for you and to allow the discipline of rest to enter your daily, weekly, and monthly routine.
There’s nothing earth-shattering in this post, just a gentle reminder of what you likely already know to be true and a bit of validation as I raise my hand and emphatically acknowledge that I need breaks too.