Stressed? Don’t Feel Guilty About Taking A Break

Are you stressed? Yep, me too. We all have shit going on, whether it’s work, university or our personal lives, and sometimes we get so anxious about checking off all the items on our to-do lists that we feel guilty about taking a break. I, for one, never forget about taking a break, I just struggle to do it without feeling like I’ve wasted time or I should have been doing something else. In these situations I’m usually so anxious about taking time off that I worry the day away, and then it feels doubly wasted. 
But taking a break when you’re feeling fraught is actually conducive to being more productive in the long run. Clearing your mind, stepping away and ignoring your emails is sometimes the only way to decompress. Even if things are piling on top of you and you’re worried about getting it all done, when you’re towing the line between barely keeping it all together and screaming ‘fuck it’ and running off to become a milk maid, you have to give yourself a break from the worry. 
I have my dissertation and final project deadlines coming up (as if I haven’t mentioned these enough lately), as well as trying to manage my blog and remnants of a social life, so when people tell me to take a break or have a day off I feel like punching them in the tit. However, when my brother invited me out for a day at Hever Castle in Kent, I felt like this was the perfect opportunity to literally escape and just decompress for the day.

Despite the pain-in-the-arse journey encompassing 3 train changes and a bloody bus journey, the day itself was just what I needed. Even the walk from the small Hever station to the castle was pretty – picture big country houses, sprawling gardens and horses (and the odd alpaca) dotted around each corner. Hever Castle is set in beautiful grounds with award winning gardens, a lake and multiple mini-bridges over tiny rivers. We went on a Saturday so it was quite busy, but even then there were plenty of spots to escape and pester Joe into taking some photos for the blog (see, even got some work done haha!).

As soon as we arrived we headed straight for the castle, so Joe could soak up as much of Anne Boleyn’s presence as possible. He loves Tudor history and is obsessed with Anne Boleyn, so visiting her childhood home was the main reason he wanted to go. I, on the other hand, spent the whole time trying to decide if I was the type of person to churn through six husbands, and ultimately decided that I probably would kill my partner in the heat of the moment if I could do it and get away with it (I’ve based this on the fact that I try and make very dramatic exits when I’m drunk and annoyed, so undoubtedly I’d go straight to beheading if somebody didn’t give me enough attention).

(awkward siblings couple pic by stranger)

Once Joe had sniffed out every corner of Anne Boleyn’s bedroom and I had made multiple inappropriate jokes about Anne giving King Henry secret blowjobs, we waddled over to one of the on-site restaurants and grabbed ourselves some lunch. One focaccia, brownie and Earl Grey tea combo demolished, we then headed over to the award winning Italian Garden to take in the architectural and perennial beauty. At the very end of the garden there is a platform that looks out onto the lake, where various noble souls braved mighty pedalos in the battle to become the ultimate parent. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to the jump on a pedalo, crash into some unsuspecting victims and launch the children passengers into the water, so we completed our lap of the Italian Gardens and sauntered back on off to the station for our million-hour journey home. 

Hever Castle is truly beautiful, but I was so ready to take a guilt-free day off that I think a lap of my local park would have done it. I think we punish ourselves too readily for wanting a break from work when there’s always so much to be done, but there’s only so far we can push ourselves before we just burn out. We also need to cater to the specific way that we work, and not the way that others do. I work in bulk; when I write my dissertation, I do 1000+ words at a time and then wander off for a couple of days to get my other shit done. As much as I try to break it down into more digestible and less stressful ‘400 words a day’ chunks, this just doesn’t work for me. It isn’t my style.

Don’t be afraid to give yourself a guilt-free day off. This doesn’t mean a day where you don’t get anything done but you’re constantly worried about how you’ll factor everything in, this means a day spent decompressing, turning off your bloody emails and appreciating that you need to calm the fuck down sometimes without feeling like you’re on the path to eternal damnation. Maybe you need to go to a spa, maybe you need to go to a castle, or maybe you need to go nowhere at all – whatever you do, just clear your mind, remain guilt-free and give your head a break. And if all else fails, just be grateful that you weren’t born to be one of King Henner’s doomed wives. Sure you got to be queen, but I’m not even sure if he was a great shag tbh.


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