Taking Breaks - The How
Updated: Oct 13
We’ve covered off the benefits of taking a break - if you haven’t yet read the post, check it out here - and so now we move on to how to take an effective break that works! Scroll down to read more.
First up is the most obvious - take a break from one thing by doing another on your to-do list. Sometimes, when we have a long list of things to get done for that day, we might feel like we need to rattle through the list at the lightning speed of Usain Bolt. However, this normally means that we plough on through one task until we finish it to then move on to another. We were always taught that multitasking was bad right? Well the parts of our brains active for a specific task still need regular breaks.
Picking a couple of different tasks to switch between until they’re complete is a good way to not get sucked in to the multitasking black hole where nothing gets completed and still give our brains the rest they need. For example, this might look like taking a break from reading to writing, from tidying up to cooking, or from working on a spreadsheet to talking to a colleague. Word-to-the-wise, if you have one task that makes you want to drift off to sleep, pick an exciting or more engaging task to pair it with!
For the super drained, a suitable break might look like a mid-day kip. Top tip for this one is to keep it to no more than 20 minutes. Up to 20 minutes gives our brains the boost they need but after 20 minutes, our sleep cycle starts to kick in and we may feel sleepier afterwards which is not so much the desired effect! Some even opt to have a cup of coffee right before they drift off so the caffeine kicks in for when they wake up, feeling refreshed and recharged - thank you Dr Coffee.
Taking a physical break away from a task is another great option. This might be taking a 15 minute walk, doing some sports or having a good stretch. Heck, even just sitting outside can have a hugely positive effect on our brains - our neurons and brain chemistry love the outdoors! My go-to break of choice is putting some of my favourite music on, closing my eyes and switching off for 10 minutes.
For some, doing meditation works well. There are soooo many apps out there now for helping guide you through meditation from ones like Headspace to Calm and MindU, there really are a lot to choose from. Why not try a few out and see how you get on?
Another option is to do a puzzle like the newspaper crossword or sudoku. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something that you truly enjoy and helps you to switch off a bit. Even if that’s grabbing a snack and sitting down somewhere quiet to enjoy it in peace or giving someone a call such as a friend or colleague.
My final two recommendations for you and your next break are watching something you enjoy - maybe a film or box set - and even taking a bit of time to check Social Media. They both get a bit of a bad rap if over done but in moderation, they can be used as a healthy way to take a break! I will mention one piece of advice on these two which is that if you’re engaging in a task that involves looking at a screen, doing these as your break may not help you properly rest and our brains recharge as it could be using the same parts of the brain. In this case, choosing another type of break might be a better option for you and your wellbeing.
What breaks will you choose for today?