How To Take A Break Without Going Overboard | Seneca

A short reflection on how to allow yourself to relax without going off the path | Premeditatio Malorum | Stoicism

Photo by Sean Stratton on Unsplash

Reflection ✏️

The belly will not listen to advice; it makes demands, it importunes. And yet it is not a troublesome creditor; you can send it away at small cost, provided only that you give it what you owe, not merely all you are able to.

— Quote by Seneca

Everyone has desires.

Some are reasonable and in line with your future vision of yourself — these stem from putting in some thought, investing brain cycles, they are somewhat rational.

Other desires, on the other hand, are more impulsive, they flare up suddenly and you have to restrain yourself from giving in to them. These stem from your limbic system (especially the Amygdala) and can be rather irrational.

You can hold off on the later ones, for a while. But everyone likes to indulge in them from time to time. And that’s okay if you don’t go from one Netflix episode to two, then three, and a couple of hours later you wake up in the middle of a pile of ice cream buckets and cozy blankets, having wasted your whole day.

So, it’s better to do something “frivolous” in short, controlled bursts. “Allowing” yourself to indulge for a certain time, then actively deciding to get back to it. Do this a couple of times and you will train your brain to default into this pattern so that it won’t rebel every time you go back to doing something slightly more difficult than sitting on your ass.

For example, give yourself 1 hour of time in which you can do whatever you’d like each day.

And after, just stop. Especially if you really really want to watch some more memes on Insta, or eat another delicious snack, force yourself to step back and get back to the frontlines of accomplishing your goals.

You can be strategic, of course, and only allow yourself off-time when you have taken care of everything else. This can work, but it’s easy to overload yourself with stuff you want to do and then just be even more stressed than before plus some good intentions, of course.

Therefore, it is often easier to actively include such off-time and small indulgences straight into your day. Map it out for a week, then just follow the path you have laid out for yourself.

That is unless you are not some genius scheduling master (which I am certainly not) that always gets everything done and is never stressed outta their minds.

Some people might be inclined to “stay hard” and “just do it” — which works, for a time — but neither the people at Nike nor David Goggins can only have at it in perpetuity. We are all humans and we need to balance ourselves out based on our own capacities. This has nothing to do with slacking off, you should still push yourself to do better each day (IMO), but that is entirely up to you.

You need to encourage yourself to embrace the struggle that comes with getting better.

But you also need to discipline yourself not to burn out in one giant push of force. That would be bad and counter-productive — and as Stoics, we always want to anticipate and prevent bad things from happening if possible. In this case, it is mostly up to you how you go about your day and where you invest your energy.

Learning 💡

Plan ahead, pick your battles, then follow your roadmap.

Don’t forget to schedule a time to recover.

Premeditatio Malorum

Feedback

Now we’d love to hear from you.

What situation have you dealt with where you gave in a little to go hard right afterward?

Or maybe you have another great quote regarding discipline? Don’t hesitate to contact us through the quote submission form 📝

Want more? Check out last week’s reflection