Episode 32 - Why breaks are important

Intro
Hello my dears! My name is Johanna, and I welcome you to the Johanna Draconis - The Deconstruction Of C-PTSD podcast.
In this episode we will talk about the importance of breaks and yes - I am aware that this statement coming from me is a bit ironic, but please, hear me out.
Most people think that taking a break is a waste of time, some even call it dead time and that it means you didn’t use your time well and being inefficient.
That is not an accurate assessment and actually the opposite is pretty much true - well as long it is not too extensive. This is once again helpful for all of your life - so let us talk about it

Prelude
I will be honest, I hate being unproductive. It doesn’t matter if in real life or in games or anywhere. And I do still struggle with it. So if I say it is important, I mean it. And I know how hard it is.
I think the hardest hurdle to overcome is the notion, that taking a break means you are not being productive. Because actually you are being very productive, if you worked before the break in whatever shape or form.
The thing is, there is a wrong way to do breaks. At least the ones that are effective. The key is to drain your brain as little as possible, while keeping your body busy. Like splitting wood, knitting, cooking, etc.
Something that your body can do basically automatically without you having to really think about it. TV, games, etc are maybe good for stress relief, but your brain is still fed information and won’t start working.
It is like the brain is the cleaning crew of a shop, venue, etc, which of course can only start working, once everyone left. Another good way is meditating… but that is a topic on and of itself.
So in this episode we talk about how breaks help your brain and with your PTSD.

How breaks help the brain
For a very long time science believed that while we sleep our brain would take a break and recover from the strains of the day - but then it was found out, that the brain is doing the complete opposite.
While we sleep our brain goes into full working mode and deals with the things that happened over the day. So instead of taking a break, the brain is responsible for the night shift - so to say.
So while the saying, we shouldn’t wait for something to happen to us, but shape the fate ourselves is absolutely true- the sayings like “if you rest, you rust” are false in the literal sense. Rest makes you progress.
When you are resting, you brain space - so to speak - gets emptied and your brain uses this opportunity to deal with old stuff. This is also why flashbacks, memories popping up, etc are more likely to occur then.
These are the moments - in my experience - where the greatest progress is achieved. Of course the brain can only work on something that is there, the brain will not just solve all the issues, because it has time.
You have to prepare it, by reading, nibbing of the trauma, thinking about your situation and so much more. And resting of course is the time where the brain stores knowledge, learned routines, processes stuff and so on.
So the brain basically tries to solve the issues on its own unless it learned or was told something before, that it now executes. Sometimes even on hundreds or even thousands of similar cases.
So resting is more a “let you brain work in peace and don’t disturb it”- time. Which is of course extremely important. For processing anything, not just PTSD.

How breaks help with trauma/PTSD?
But breaks especially help with PTSD, as it is an overflow of your brain - and your brains basically being incapable of containing it all. Like in a movie? When all the animals by accident got send loose by the intern?
And the whole movie he tries to catch them all? That is your brain. But exactly like the intern the strategy of containing it is bad. So it basically just runs back and forth trying to contain the chaos - and failing to do so.
Now how do breaks help the brain deal with trauma or PTSD? Well imagine a garage. And each time your trauma causes a situation it can’t really put somewhere without the trauma being resolved, it puts it in the garage.
Now with time those little boxes add up quite neatly and soon you can barely move in it. Now sooner or later you try to do something in your garage (or brain), but its too crammed and you can’t do it properly.
That is usually when the PTSD breaks out, as figuratively a pile gets accidentally pushed over and all spills out all over the place. The brain looses the control and those weird symptoms appear in your life.
So if we now give our brain a break and have started unpacking the trauma - as explained before - the brain will now start clearing up the garage. The more time and energy we give the brain for that, the better of course.
At first it will only be able to deal with the small boxes, but once it cleared enough of those, the bigger boxes can be dealt with. That can also be fresh incoming ones, that were just handed to you.
But because there is now more space again, there is enough room to deal with it, without accidentally pushing over a pile again. This way putting the trauma in its supposed place and keeping the order.

Private Words
As I mentioned before, I love being productive. That is why I especially enjoy it, if I can cook. Usually at the moment only some basic recipes, but it is what it is. During cutting the vegetables I have time to think.
Especially since it takes me a lot longer than most to cut them. And as previous mentioned, this is a great time for the brain to find some really old boxes, that haven’t been opened yet.
And some boxes that were deeply buried and couldn’t be opened before, now could be. Denial is sadly not just a river in Egypt. Also some things we only understand after having some distance to them.
It broke my heart. Or I didn’t admit before how much it broke my heart. Either way, my heart is still bleeding. It is getting better, but some things… we just wish we never knew.
I just want to be back to full strength now to be able to do what I want to do. But one thing after another. As usual.

Outro
That was it for today episode, I hope you enjoyed it and see now the advantages of taking a break now and then.
If you have any questions or feedback and the like, please let me know at contactme@johannadraconis.com.
More information and transcript you can find as usually under johannadraconis.com/Podcast and links are in the description.
I hope to see you next time. Watch yourselves and have a wonderful time.

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