Taking a Break to Refresh and Renew

Taking a break at Pacem in Terris

Have you ever been working on a laptop and didn’t realize that it became unplugged? All of a sudden, you get the warning notice that the battery is nearly drained. The more this happens, over time, the faster the battery will drain down to nothing. Before you know it, your computer is shutting off in the middle of your favorite Netflix show. For the past week, my laptop has been in the shop for just this reason. It’s getting a new battery and an official HP cord since the knockoffs are a rip-off. I’ve also been taking a break.

Every October I try to predict peak color in the deciduous trees. Then I head off to the woods in St. Francis, Minnesota to spend a few days at Pacem in Terris (Latin for “Peace on Earth”). This year, I went at the perfect time. Taking a break is something everyone should do. Sometimes you may need it more than others. I found that the harder it is to make time in your schedule, the more important taking a break is.

Get beyond the guilt of taking a break.

Taking a break in my hermitage

This can be hard for caregivers. You spend all of your time trying to maintain control. Walking away for a few days means giving up the reigns to someone else. You may worry about how your family will fare without you. You might even harbor subconscious concerns that they can get along just fine without you and that maybe you aren’t as important as you thought.

The good news is that they can get along. When you come back from taking a break, refreshed and renewed, you will find that your family missed you and is very glad to have you home. That level of appreciation feels pretty darn good.

Taking a break means taking care of yourself.

Part of being a caregiver is caring for your own health and well being. The first step to doing that is to gain awareness of how you’re doing. Just like you can be so busy working on the unplugged laptop that you don’t realize the battery is draining, you can be so busy caring for your family that you don’t realize YOUR energy reserves are down to nothing.

Quiet restores your soul.

The hermitage I visit each October is a place of silence. Sometimes the silence is hard for people to get used to. You may spend the first day checking the time, thinking about your usual routine obligations. I actually put the clock in the closet and go to sleep before I do anything. The founder of the hermitage once told me that sleep can be the most important thing you accomplish. Your body and mind heal as you sleep. Interestingly, you burn more calories as you sleep deeply because of how many your brain consumes during that time.

Spending time with God renews you.

Taking a break to hear from God

In the hustle and bustle of caregiving, it’s easy to push God to the side. It is likely that this is the time you most need to hear His voice. Taking a break from the work of caregiving allows you the time to stop and listen. How to best accomplish this will depend on you.

  • Do you learn best by reading? Read the Bible, other spiritual writing, or even a secular book that speaks to you and what you’re going through.
  • Does being in nature help you feel refreshed and closer to god? Take a walk. A Stanford Study has shown that taking a walk improves creativity. it gives you clarity of mind that will help you to better see who you are and what you need. You can return from this mini-retreat inspired. You may even have some ideas of how to do things differently in your caregiving journey.
  • Do you like to pray? I hope so. This is a wonderful way to invite God to speak to you and give you clarity. It can be as simple as saying, “Lord, I really need to know your will in this situation. Please open my eyes to see and my ears to hear what you want me to do/know.” The (and this is key) LISTEN. I simply sit in the silence. Sometimes, I even fall asleep and have inspiring dreams during these times.

You don’t have to go away for days.

Even a few hours of leaving home to get a massage, have coffee with a friend, or take a walk in a local park can refresh you. Find what works for your needs and lifestyle. Don’t be afraid to try something different. You may just find a new way of renewing yourself so that when you return to caregiving, you feel better than ever about what you are doing.

What are YOUR thoughts?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

About Heather Erickson

I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness.
My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.
My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available on

The Erickson Family, Photo by Everbranch Photography

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6 comments on “Taking a Break to Refresh and Renew

I always compare self-care/self-love with the signs on the airplane that tells you to first give yourself oxygen and then give it to your kids. You have to save yourself first before you are able to support others. Like you said, you have to take time to refresh your energy to be fully present for others. Thank you for sharing. Pinned.

Thank you, Dagmara. It’s so true! Sometimes we wear ourselves out and can’t do the things we need to, whether it’s our job, taking care of our kids, or caring for someone we love who is sick. We must pace ourselves and listen to what our bodies and emotional health are telling us. Bless you!
heatherericksonauthor recently posted…Taking a Break to Refresh and RenewMy Profile

What a beautiful place to get away and be still. You are wise to care for yourself so you can care well for others. Blessings to you!

Thanks, Nancy. And it’s such a good time of year to refresh! Bless you 🙂

As hard as I try to give my wife (my care-giver) a break, she does not take one. She is worried I will fall, or forget my meds, or do something will she will then regret taking the time. She has been so awesome the last year and a half taking care of me, but I am much more independent now, and I would love to have her take some time off.

The bigger problem is that she works two jobs, one during the day and waitresses at night, and she hates to take any time off, especially the evening job, which is Tuesday-Saturday. This she enjoys immensely. I have tried to get her to take a wekend off and go see her sister, but she only wants to take time off when we go together. I would love to have her get away just refresh herself and have a time of rest.

Any suggestions on how I might move her to see the value in this?

Hi Pete, Your wife sounds like an amazing woman. What a blessing to be able to walk through life with someone so loving and supportive. I’m sure she feels the same about you. Your concern shows what a loving husband you are.

Your story really resonates with me. I worry about my husband all the time, not because I don’t think he can take care of himself, but because of how much I love him and am aware of the fragility of life. He and I take regular time away together. I’ve tried to go off on my own for retreats, but I struggle with it because I would rather spend my time with him.

Your wife may have a similar reason for not wanting to take a break without you. There’s nothing wrong with taking a weekend away together. Having two jobs makes time away tougher, but it’s worth it. See if she can carve 2 days and nights out of her schedule. Treat her to that time. My husband does this for me. We sometimes go to a rural getaway, and other times we go to Minneapolis, which is only a half an hour away. We go out to eat and see a few sites.

That may not fit your personalities (and that’s okay). You could treat her to a day at a spa, Or have one of her friends take her out on you. Give them a gift card to see a movie. Sometimes, something as simple as taking a walk indoors (at a mall) or out. The best thing is to get out of the normal rut that cancer can put you in. It will help both of your spirits to be lifted.

I hope you are doing well. You are both in my prayers. 🙂

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