I woke up today not feeling well. Do you ever have the feeling that you just don’t want to get out of bed? I’ve felt this way a lot recently. Call it lack of energy, winter blahs, or whatever–I haven’t had a productive few weeks.

This happens. We’re human. It’s February in Chicago–I feel like a hibernating bear who woke up early. Grouchy.

As creatives, we go through highly productive phases and then we come out on the other side, needing a rest. I’m a big believer that sometimes you need a mental break–time off to nourish the soul: a vacation, a nap, or going to the zoo with small children. Anything to break with routine.

Loss of Habit

You and I are productive, driven people. We know that we need mental rest sometimes, but it’s difficult to accept that idea.

In 2015, I wrote three books in a relatively short period of time, and I started this blog. My productivity hinged on the fact that I had made writing a habit. I created a morning routine that centered on starting every day writing for at least one hour. Often, this led to several more hours of writing and on a good day, I might write 2,000-3,000 words.

After my last book, the holidays hit and I decided to cut back on writing. I worked slowly, sporadically on a fiction book project which fizzled into nothing. I wrote a few blog posts, but nothing consistent.

What I realized is that my “mental break” had turned into a loss of the writing / creative habit that I had worked for a long time to build.

Start Over with 15 Minutes a Day

When we lose focus on our habits, we feel lost. Blocked. Stuck.

We start over because we are resilient.

Think about a body builder who went to the gym every day and built up impressive biceps. This body builder took time out of her schedule every day to work those arm muscles. She tried new moves and repeated variations of those moves until she sculpted those muscles.

But then she got sick or injured, and she stopped going to the gym because it hurt to work out those arm muscles. Maybe she even got bored of the same routine. Over a few weeks, she lost those muscles she had worked so hard to build up. This made her feel lousy.

So she felt sorry for herself and she binge watched Daredevil and Jessica Jones on Netflix, until one day she decided to do something.

She started over with just 15 minutes a day.

She picked up some free weights again and set a timer for 15 minutes. She did this one day and then got up the next morning to do it again. Because it was most important to her–to build her bicep muscles up again–she did this as the very first thing every day.

She slowly built her work out time from 15 minutes to 30. And then to a full hour every day. Slowly, she started feeling better. She developed those muscles again.

And she started with only 15 minutes. She didn’t beat herself up if she missed a day here or there.

She is strong; she is resilient. And so are you. What will you spend your 15 minutes on today?