I could use a break. Perhaps you could too.

Inflation, gas prices, a heat wave, divisive politics, and a pandemic that just won’t go away have made the last few months borderline unbearable.

This is to say nothing of what individual stressors we all might feel.

The summer is by definition supposed to be “a break.” Although that seems to apply more readily to students than the rest of us.

Even preparing for vacations can have an outsized weight to them as we sort out travel plans, logistics and packing. On top of this is the irresistible urge to try to do as much work as possible before you take off – so you can finally relax while away.

Some people are much better about taking breaks than others. They work out regularly, perhaps go on walks, schedule coffees and lunches with friends or co-workers. Perhaps they play golf or tennis each week or get together with friends for drinks routinely.

Others – either by choice or necessity – don’t take many breaks at all. They start work and go until their shift is done, work is finished or they feel comfortable enough to call it a day. The breaks are few and far between, consisting mostly of grabbing something for lunch and surfing online in between zoom meetings or tasks.

Generally speaking I fall into the latter group, even though my work situation affords me the flexibility to take more breaks than I do.

As I’m preparing now to go on vacation – to take an extended break – stress and the list of what I wanted to get done beforehand naturally have been mounting.

To compound this, on the day before we were leaving, I had technical problems with the latest episode of my podcast, I received an email saying I had to order new soccer uniforms for my three daughters and help coordinate orders for their teams right away and I went to test my portable hotspot that I just purchased for vacation (yes, there will be some work to be done while away) and it didn’t work.

Frustrated, I went into Best Buy expecting to be in there for an hour trying to resolve it. As I walked into the store a baby in a stroller waved to me. I smiled and waved back. An elderly woman, who herself was waiting to get helped, flagged someone down for me. The tech who came to assist said she didn’t have much experience with this device but would try to help. In five minutes she discovered that the previous tech who set up my hotspot device when I purchased it, had installed the battery backwards. Problem solved.

A baby, an elderly woman and a member of the Geek Squad, all gave me the break that I needed.

We can all give each other more of a break than we do. The last few years have been difficult, the last few weeks can feel like torture Life has been hard. As a result, we’ve been hard on ourselves and on each other.

Maybe we should all take a break. And maybe we should all give each other one too.

Shameless Plug Alert: If you’re looking for a break, listen to the latest episode of Attribution, featuring my conversation with Kathryn Schulz. Her book, Lost & Found, also provides a wonderful break from our day to day worries.

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