Take a break


While you are reading this I am taking a break. Meg Selig wrote an article on How taking breaks is good for your brain.

A good break will give that goal-oriented prefrontal cortex of yours a rest by switching brain activity to another area. The activities below have a special power to refresh and recharge your mind and body.

1. Walk or exercise. Andrews cites work by Stanford researchers who studied the link between walking and creativity. They discovered that a walking break led to more creative ideas than a sitting break. The creativity afterglow lingered even after the subjects returned to their desks.

2. Connect with nature... or a streetscape. Do you need calm or excitement in your day? Describing a study from Scotland, Wasmer writes that “that walking on a nature path induced a calm state of mind while walking along city streets amped up engagement.” Know what state of mind you are aiming for when you take breaks.

3. Change your environment. Briefly leaving your work environment and going to another area will serve to help your brain rest and switch gears.

4. Have lunch or a healthy snack. Why not recharge the mind and body at the same time?

5. Take a “power nap”—if it won’t get you fired. Elizabeth Scott offers evidence that short power naps have amazing health, productivity, and relaxation benefits. Studies suggest that you can make yourself more alert, reduce stress, and improve cognitive functioning with a nap.

6. Take a few deep breaths. They don’t call a rest “taking a breather” for nothing. Deliberately taking slow, deep breaths and focusing on your breathing just for 30 seconds is a mini-meditation that can relax your mind and body.

7. Meditate. Mindfulness meditation offers a temporary respite from goal achievement. Ferris Jabr offers an interesting perspective here: “For many people, mindfulness is about paying close attention to whatever the mind does on its own, as opposed to directing one’s mind to accomplish this or that.”

8. Daydream. Daydreaming gives the prefrontal cortex a break, taking you on a brief journey to your unconscious mind where chaos and creativity reign.

9. Get creative. If your work requires you to use your logical, linguistic left-brain, deliberately choose a break activity that will activate your creative and visual right-brain—like drawing or just doodling.

10. Drink coffee (or tea). Every day there’s a new piece of research touting the health benefits of coffee-drinking in moderation. Sipping coffee can be a mindful pleasure in itself.

When You Can't Take a Break

If you can’t take a break, consider switching work tasks. Changing your focus—say from writing an essay to choosing photos for a presentation—can often feel like a break because you are using a slightly different part of your brain. You could also switch from solitary work to consulting with a colleague. When you return to the original task, you’ll experience some of the break benefits.

Source: Psychology Today