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Need a mental break? (Part 2)

"Downtime replenishes the brain's stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life...Moments of respite may even be necessary to keep one's moral compass in working order and maintain sense of self."

-Ferris Jabr (Scientific American Article)

Part one of "Need a mental break?" briefly touched on why taking a break was essential to ones overall health. Part two will expound on good breaks versus bad breaks, as well as breaks to take to ensure you're maintaining an active lifestyle.

As we learned in the last blog, breaks are necessary for a plethora of reasons, but like most things in this world, not all breaks are good for us. There are breaks that prove beneficial to your health, and then there are breaks that are distracting, become habitual, and negate the entire point of taking a break. Listed below are examples of good breaks, bad breaks, and breaks that aid with being active:

Good Breaks

  • Changing your scenery; if you were working inside, step outside during your break or work outside for about an hour.

  • Stretching for 5-15 minutes is good for the mind, body, and spirit

  • Enroll yourself in a yoga class

  • Challenge yourself with a puzzle or Rubik's cube

  • Do some cartwheels (without hurting yourself lol)

  • Write a poem or read a magazine

  • Work on a hobby; scrap-booking, cooking, painting

  • Pet something fury like an animal or a rug - its stimulating to the mind.

Active Breaks

  • Take a brief walk around the office or home to get you up on your feet

  • Stand or walk around while on the phone

  • Work at a standing desk

  • lowers blood sugar levels

  • reduces the risk of weight gain

  • reduces back pain

  • Instead of gathering in break rooms, go outside and walk, take in the fresh air

  • Find colleagues to walk/run with during lunch breaks.

Not So Good Breaks

  • taking a break to put off completion of a project

  • cyber-loafing

  • making an unproductive, unrelated call to someone

  • habitual breaks

  • Checking your phone every 5 seconds (maybe this is an exaggeration, but you get the point!)

"Not so good" breaks are disruptive. They are breaks you take when you aren't necessarily in need of a break, but just looking to distract yourself, which ties hand in hand with procrastination. You may find yourself in the groove and extremely focused on a project but end up picking your phone up because somehow you've made it a habit to do so. Habitual breaks are learned, therefore, the same way you programmed yourself to take them, you have to program yourself not to.

The key to taking breaks is knowing what works best for you. Remember to be smart about the breaks you take so that they prove beneficial to your mind, your body, and also your work .

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