Give yourself a break

Give yourself a break

There are various sources quoting that on average, adults make about 35,000 decisions every day! They can be simple decisions, such as what to eat or what to wear, or decisions that require more thought, such as where to go on your next vacation or which career to pursue. Every day you are faced with a plethora of choices to occupy your mind.

Have you ever gone to start your next task but you have forgotten what it was you intended to do? You then switch over to check your emails – because it’s only been ten minutes since you last checked! After scanning your emails, you look at your calendar to see when your next meeting is. It starts in seven minutes. Meanwhile your clients and colleagues are happily pinging away on Slack and you check, and try to respond immediately, to the pile of messages needing your attention, because you still have seven minutes before your next meeting.

Many of my days are like this and there are moments when I find myself staring at my computer with my brain at a complete halt. If you find yourself staring at your computer, like me, it’s probably a sign from your brain to take a break. You could be suffering from decision fatigue.

The brain needs a few minutes of rest every hour, in order to recuperate and to avoid burnout.

Taking mini-breaks throughout your day is good for your mental health and leads to increased productivity.

Here’s four easy ways to incorporate breaks into your day:

Move your body

Take 10 minutes to get out of your chair and go for a short walk. If you’re pressed for time, stand up and stretch for 2 minutes. Changing the position of your body and focusing on the present moment will help to relieve the mental tension that has built up in your mind.

Hydrate your mind

When your body is not properly hydrated, it can put increased stress on your brain. As little as a one to three per cent decrease in your hydration can negatively affect your memory, concentration and decision-making.

Drinking caffeinated drinks will have a dehydrating effect, so think twice before you reach for a coffee when you hit an afternoon slump.

Laugh more

Take a break to talk with your friends and colleagues at work. Laughter decreases stress hormones and triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. A little laughter break helps to relax your mind and is also good for your soul.

Breathe deeply

Reset your mind and body with a 2-minute break to breathe deeply into your belly. Deep breathing calms your mind and body, improves oxygen flow and will give you a natural energy boost.

  1. Sit up tall with a straight spine, bring your awareness to your belly and allow it to soften and relax.
  2. Begin with a slow, deep inhalation for a count of three, filling your belly, then rib cage, then upper chest with oxygen.
  3. Pause for second, then exhale from your upper chest, rib cage then belly, drawing your belly in towards your spine at the end.
  4. Pause again, then repeat.

The next time you find yourself at a standstill or pressuring yourself to finish a task when your mind is not in the flow, try some of the tips above. It’s better to take a short break and allow yourself to reset, rather than try to power through. Your body and brain will thank you.