The Benefits of Taking a Break

If you're feeling uncreative and more than a little burned out, it may be time to briefly unplug, get active, and find someone to talk to.

By Danielle Blevins

This story originally appeared on PR Daily

Incessant work on behalf of clients can be flat-out exhausting.

That fatigue can leave professionals tired, uncreative, and lacking the inspiration to put together unique and innovative ideas and campaigns. Yes, I'm talking about the dreaded b-word: burnout. For many PR pros, that word is one never to be uttered, due to the nature of non-stop client work.

Creativity is a concept of cognitive function. Described as "sought after" in a 2005 article in the Creativity Research Journal, researchers stated "creativity…[is] sustained competition." But how can you do that when that little red light keeps blinking?

Let's think about this from our clients' point of view. Would you want to hire, or let alone keep around a firm or an individual who only came to the table with unoriginal ideas? Where's the risk? Where's the reward?

Unplugging and spending a week in the woods is not really allowed. So when you're feeling burned out, in what ways can you rejuvenate yourself without going off the grid? How do you tap into that imaginative zone when a week long vacation is out of the question? There are a few ways to find your zen and do incredible work for your clients at the same time.

1. Take a 45-minute walk break.

Overloading on technology can continually excite our senses in a manner that leaves us feeling tired and drained. Detaching oneself from the devices that connect PR pros to the world may seem like crazy talk, but it's worth doing every once in a while.

The exploratory study mentioned above, "Aerobic Exercise and Creative Potential: Immediate and Residual Effects," found there to be proof that exercise "provides tangible improvements to creative productivity. It continues: "This implies that…organizations may potentially benefit as well…[exercise could] yield increases in creative output and innovation in product development, promotion, operations management."

Getting up from the computer screen, putting down your double cellphones, and taking a walk in the sun will give you the opportunity to find your inner voice. According to the American Heart Association, taking a walk will not only enhance your mental well-being, but it will reduce your body's susceptibility to diseases including osteoporosis, diabetes, breast cancer, and colon cancer. By simply taking a walk, your blood pressure and sugar levels will be reduced in a way that will give you energy and help reignite a creative spark.

2. Find a hobby.

Google long had a policy that granted employees 20 percent of work time to devote to side projects. As Wired reported, it had its problems. However, as the author notes, it was not an entirely bad idea.

Getting outside of your everyday routine can get the creative juices going. When professionals do creative things outside of work, those creative instincts will carry over into the workplace.

When I was in law school, with the crazy stress many of us were under due to class, reading, outlines, and grades, many students found hobbies that were not connected to the legal field. Some participated as cast members in cabaret shows in town, some taught cooking classes, and some volunteered at the YMCA. Many participated in sports, including kickball to flag football. My classmates were able to escape our small legal campus and actually do things they enjoyed. This made them happier people than those who spent all of their time in the library.

In public relations, there's continual pressure to be new and innovative. It may seem counterintuitive, but doing something other than working can help with that.

3. Share and listen.

Sometimes, it's good to talk to others about their world instead of focusing on one's own. At its best, escapism is when we can put our problems and lives on the backburner and focus fully on someone else.

On the flip side, sometimes we need someone to listen our problems. Whether it's a friend, a mentor, or a family member, find a way to express what you're feeling to help get to the core of what's causing you to experience these feelings of frustration and lack of motivation.

The Benefits of Taking a Break

To paraphrase the meme above, "If there are no ups and downs in your career, it means it's dead." Few of us want to think of our careers as being on an EKG, it's a good point of view as far as longevity goes in a public relations' career.

Take some time to unclutter your thoughts, take a walk, engage in something not work related, and talk to another human being. Taking a pause will be the best thing for your clients and your career. It will give you new energy to be healthy, creative, and inventive. It's the best thing for you to fight the dreaded b-word.

Danielle Blevins
Danielle Blevins is an Account Executive for Media & Communications Strategies, a crisis public relations firm in Washington, D.C. and founding member of PR Boutiques International, a consortium of public relations entities around the world.

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