Self enrichment Self Management

Take a break consciously

Salams, Eid greetings and Hi!

In a way, celebrating Eid with family and friends is also a way of taking a break. Somehow, when you attach ‘fun and smiles’ to any ‘work’ then it automatically becomes fun and relaxing. Yes, there is some ‘work’ involved with Eid-ul-Azha, as all Muslims know. Lots to do. It is all good. Alhamdolillah!

You avoid stress-related illnesses through breaks:

 This post is all about the requirement to take breaks with family, friends and alone, in ones’ life. I just cannot stress it enough. Otherwise, you will get stressed. If you don’t take action now, your body will make you do it when you won’t be expecting it! (That too, in the hospital.)

Take a special note of the fact that Covid19 hits those persons, who are weaker or have some illness. We know that most illnesses are stress-related. Heart trouble, diabetes, ulcers, high blood pressure, to name a few.

So, if you manage your stress levels in your normal life, then you will be better off. You can only remove stress in your life by taking breaks. Giving your body the time to recover, before moving on.

Five time prayers are mini-breaks:

If you notice the spacing of each of the five prayers is almost designed to offer us breaks through out the day. Starting with the ablutions and then the prayer which is a physical exercise, meditation and reality check all-in-one. It offers us the opportunity to connect with our souls and our Maker, after every few hours during the day.

Sharpening the saw:

Stephon R. Covey called the break , ‘sharpening the saw’ which is  one of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Do watch this video, which shows exactly what I’m saying in this whole blog post. If it doesn’t open, do check it out on YouTube.

Consciously take breaks:

Giving yourself a break is essential. It was last year, when one day, while driving, I realized that I felt lost, and couldn’t remember where I was going! I kept on track, driving and wondering where to turn next, as for a few minutes my destination was not clear to me.

It was scary.

Most of us carry scary baggage:

My husband died of GBM IV, which was a cancerous brain tumor. He had mentioned ‘losing the way’ several times in the preceding months of his horrific illness. In those days, Islamabad road systems were being revamped, so we didn’t take it so seriously, as it had happened with many others too. After my husband’s illness, we all became paranoid about such ‘symptoms’.

Stress symptoms:

So, when I had two or three episodes of forgetting where I was going, (it would come back to me within a couple of minutes…) I took an appointment with Dr. Shahid, a psychiatrist, in Islamabad’s IDC Specialist’s block, in F-8 sector.

Taking expert help is essential:

I was relieved to know, that it was nothing to worry about.

‘It happened because you do not give yourself a break on weekends, nor between chores.’

 Dr. Shahid went on to say, ‘when you continue doing things at high intensity for hours and days without any breaks in between, then such things happen. If you do not slow down your life, then it can become a matter of concern.’

So, I was so relieved. ? He was right. I had been super busy.

Take action, adjust lifestyle:

Immediately, I slowed down my life. As soon as I got back to my old self, where I’ve always been very particular about taking breaks between chores, during which I celebrate my latest accomplishments. Then on weekends, always doing something refreshing. Daily, I’d take a walk in natural surroundings specially my favorite F-9 Park. At night, I’d focus on my core family alone.

Ensuring good sleep:

Going to sleep after some relaxing activity like reading a book or chatting with loved ones.


So, anyhow, it has been a tough few months for me. You all know.  It isn’t easy to be fully responsible for everything. Allah is helping me, yet, I’ve got to take more steps to ensure my mental stability and equilibrium.

Take the opportunities:

So, when Nigar Nazar got after me to take this trip to Murree with another friend of hers. I agreed.

Simply because I was scared that Covid19 aside, there are more deadly things lurking around us. My children were freaking out, telling me to be careful, ‘how could I agree to such a thing?’ Well, I told them, ‘trust Nigar Nazar, she has been an Ambassador’s wife for most of her life. Extremely successful cartoonist and influencer during a time when there was no such thing.’ So, I was in safe hands.

Empty nest symptoms too:

Having fun with friends.

I wonder if I shared, but I had had some empty nest ‘symptoms’ after my daughter’s ruksati. No matter how well we plan everything, we are human after all. We have stresses in life.

After every daughter’s wedding, I’ve faced strange symptoms like claustrophobia when Nataliya got married, then panic attacks when Nadiya got married, so I was expecting something. Sure enough, a strange constriction in the chest!


Feeling great wearing my husband’s cap and father’s sun glasses. 🙂

So, the trip became more important.

SOPs followed during trip to Murree:

  1. We kept masks on, with gloves while in the car, during the trip.
  2. The driver was a local of Murree and belonged to daughter of Nigar Nazar, so he was a known person.
  3. Stayed in an exclusive private accommodation arranged by Nigar Nazar through her daughter Nosheen. A house of the architect Jehanzaib and his wife Zonaira.
  4. Stayed in separate rooms with attached bathrooms.
  5. Cooked food ourselves.
  6. Only ate out once, that too at a local nearby hotel which was open, (all others were closed.) We were the only customers there. We chose to take thoroughly cooked meal of chicken handi, with naans.  (Also, asked the waiter to give some naans to give two stray dogs outside.) Animals are also having a rough time in this Covid19 time.  
  7. We lived in an exclusive colony, where outsiders were not allowed.

Eid-ul-Azha 2020:

Returning to Islamabad, and then a few days later Eid-ul-Azha, totally refreshed us.  I was now ready to invite my new and old family for lunch with all SOPs. it is Allah’s blessing, and all the prayers and good wishes that we enjoy. Alhamdolillah. Also, in some matters I can be very strict. Not inviting the elders in my family was one such thing. I gave my mother the lunch and let her go to sleep before the guests arrived. So, she wouldn’t have to meet anyone.

Entertaining with social distancing:

Everyone sat near their own families, keeping a distance from others. We only got ‘together’ for pics, and would move apart immediately.
  1. The buffet lunch was arranged in one area, and entrance to it was narrow, so no more than one or two could come at a time.
  2. All seating was spread out in three rooms and chairs placed as far from each other as possible.
  3. During the event we the hosts made sure too much close seating isn’t done, unless it is among family members.
  4. Masks were kept on as much as possible, except when photographs were being taken.
  5. Since it was over three weeks from the Ruksati event, so our guests too were confident that no one has got ill with our last event. Alhamdolillah.

 Mini Breaks on daily and weekly basis:

So, coming back to the topic, how to give ourselves breaks on a daily and weekly basis? Here is how..

Daily breaks:

Take a break every three hours for 15 to 30 minutes. It isn’t possible for you to concentrate fully beyond three hours. (This is why all examinations are not more than three hours.) Use the office routine diligently, even when you are working at home. Just as you have office ‘tea break’ at around 10.30 to 11.00 am, in the same way, do it while working at home too.

Here, a break means a break. Do not think or do anything that is work related, during your break time. Do not mix business with pleasure please.

What to do?

  • Have a video chat with a friend, and sip your tea or juice with it.
  • Read a chapter of your book.
  • Yes, yes, browse the internet. (Only with limited time!)
  • Go to washroom, refresh yourself and your makeup, (I have to tell you that or being busy online, you’ll forget!)
  • Do meditation or zikr.
  • Exercise, walk or gym.
  • Prayers.

Stop work during family time:

Know the difference between the two, especially when you are working from home. You are now doing this ‘work from home’ thing during the Corona Virus or Covid19 months.  I’ve done it for years as a freelancer. So, I know what I’m talking about, and I’ve read a lot about it too. Also, applied the different theories of these. So, please do not let your family suffer because of your work at home. They all need to be included in your schedule. Only you do it with coordination with them.

Make and have healthy snacks during the breaks.

Weekly breaks:

Once a week, you need to stop all that you do during the week, to do something that you miss out on. Give yourself a treat, by doing something that you crave for – yes, painting, yachting, swimming, singing, going on long drives, visiting friends and family or traveling. Whatever you like, keep planning with variety in mind. Don’t do the same weekend activity every weekend. Otherwise, the thrill and excitement will get less.

That is what we did with that weekend trip to Murree.

Once a year holiday:

Making the most of every moment together…. Nigar reading out to us from the book by Moni Mohsin, Social Butterfly.

Yes! So, you save throughout the year and do some moonlighting to keep aside some cash for a family holiday. That is what I did with my articles for Dawn and other magazines. I’d not touch that payment throughout the year, (anyways, we got paid after three months, mostly!) So, then by the end of the year, it amounted to something, along with the 5% of my pay which I also saved during the year. Then when I wanted to go on a holiday, and my husband said, ‘we can’t afford it,’ I’d come out with it, or already do the bookings! ? Of course, he loved the surprise. He needed the break too, after all.

So, we have to manage ourselves, our families and friends in ways to carry on as normal a life as possible, while keeping ourselves and each other safe through it all.

Stay blessed and protected! ?

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  1. Sehrish says:

    Worth reading.. You have more power in your words! Stay blessed

    1. Shireen Gheba Najib says:

      Dear Sehrish,

      Thank you so much for your valuable comment.

      Stay protected. 🙂

  2. Mrs. Mudassar says:

    It isn’t easy to be fully responsible for everything.
    If you don’t take action now, your body will make you do it when you won’t be expecting it! (That too, in the hospital.)Absolutely well said. I have a lot of things too & loved ones around to take care of solely these days. Your blog is really helpful.

    1. Shireen Gheba Najib says:

      Thank you so much Mrs. Mudassar for your valuable comment. It means a lot to me that you found this post useful.
      Stay blessed and protected. 🙂

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