Why Taking a Break Can Be Empowering for Women of Color
Updated: 4 days ago
The nature of work today can be highly demanding, especially more so for black, indigenous, and women of color (BIWOC), due to factors such as systemic oppression, microaggressions in the workplace, unfamiliar cultures at work, gendered roles in the home, and high rates of impostor syndrome and feelings of self-doubt among BIWOC. It's easy to say yes to that extra project, to answer that email at 11 p.m. on a Wednesday, or to do laundry first thing in the morning so the kids have a clean batch. I myself know that I often say yes to joining a new project that will look good on my resume instead of taking a moment to pause and reflect on whether adding that extra task to my to-do list will benefit me.
Taking a break may sound counterintuitive, but it can serve as a tool for empowerment and self-care for BIWOC. Taking a break can help reclaim the narrative of when and how you rest. Instead of feeling guilty about the brief moments of peace, you allow yourself to relax, and you can learn to reframe your point of view to think of breaks as a form of empowerment and genuine self-care.
Here are three different reasons why taking a break could be helpful for you in empowering you at home, in the office, or other areas of your life.
Burnout is especially prevalent among BIWOC who experience systemic oppression in the workplace, and who do not see themselves represented in their field or occupation (Nance-Nash, 2022). Studies have found that women struggle more with imposter syndrome and they continue to not have representative representation, especially among leadership positions (Nance-Nash, 2022). I know that against these stacked odds, saying no may be challenging, especially when those around you, whether family members, children, or work colleagues, may constantly expect and demand so much from you. However, establishing good boundaries around your time and energy and prioritizing taking a break can prevent you from burning out.
Think of this: whenever we get on a plane, we are reminded to "put our own oxygen mask before helping others." As cliche as it may sound, you must take care of your well-being by implementing healthy breaks to prevent future burnout. By prioritizing those moments of space, rest, and reset, you reinforce the belief that "I matter, and my well-being matters," and help protect yourself against burnout.
Rejuvenate Your Energy
Your energy and time are sacred. I repeat, your energy and time are sacred. Please let that sink in. By prioritizing taking a break, you cease to accept those highly demanding and toxic expectations from others, and you set a precedent for a healthy balance between how much you give to others and how much you prioritize yourself. You will renew your energy by actively taking breaks, and even the people around you will begin to notice!
Taking a break can help you have the mental, physical, and emotional space to have new ideas, perspectives, and solutions that can help you both personally and professionally. Moreover, as you implement breaks into your routine, you help realize that your worth is not contingent on your output.
Build Genuine Self-Care Routines
Stepping away from the business of work or your personal life can help you have an opportunity for self-reflection, quiet, and peace and begin building healthy self-care routines. Taking a break from work can help ground you and remember that there is more to life than your profession or role as a mother, employee, sister, or partner. That break can look very different depending on what you need each moment. It could mean going for a short walk in nature, eating a yummy snack, a calming 5-minute meditation, or listening to some of your favorite music.
As author Jennifer Williamson put it, "real rest feels like every cell is thanking you for taking care of you. It's calm, not full of checklists and chores. It's simple: not multitasking; not fixing broken things" (Williamson, 2019). Once you deliberately build breaks to your regular structure, you prioritize your mental, physical, and emotional health.
Discovering when and how to take a break that is most meaningful to you is an ongoing journey. As you begin your journey of mindful rest, remember that in practice, those breaks and time off can look very different depending on what is meaningful to you and what you may need. Indian yoga guru and spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar frames it as, "Wisdom is knowing when to have rest, when to have activity, and how much of each to have." (Williamson, 2019). In a world that often demands more from women than they can healthily give, taking a break is a revolutionary act of self-love and self-empowerment.
If you're having trouble with a "reset", a therapist might be able to help walk you through ways to prevent burnout. Schedule a consultation here.
Author: Dulce Rivera
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Nance-Nash, S. (2022, February 25). Why Imposter Syndrome hits women and women of colour harder. BBC Worklife. https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200724-why-imposter-syndrome-hits-women-and-women-of-colour-harder
Williamson, J. (2019, March 14). 14 quotes about Rest & being kind enough to give yourself a break. Healing Brave. https://healingbrave.com/blogs/all/quotes-about-rest-give-yourself-a-break