We can't all drop everything to hop on a plane to Bermuda, Barbados, or some other vacation hot-spot when work and life stresses become overwhelming. Yet, our minds and bodies are craving for a reprieve from all the stressors that threaten to grind us down.
Without taking the time for adequate breaks from stress, we're going to burn out. We'll also fall prey to negative thinking or lose sight of why we're coping with all this stress in the first place. The truth is, if we're getting close to that burnout stage, we're not coping at all. For most of us, Barbados isn't there when we need it, but by developing a strategy to use our break times more effectively, we can put a dent in that stress. We can find the time for our mind to heal and get the recharge it so desperately needs.
If we're on the job, we're entitled to a couple 10-minute breaks each day. How do you use your ten minutes? Do you and a colleague spend it discussing the boss, clients, or other aspects of work? Don't! Use that ten minutes to mentally get away from the job. Carve out a space of time where you can simply meditate, read five pages of a book that has nothing to do with work, or listen to some soothing music while snacking on an apple. In short, be mindful about how you use these short breaks because even a short period of time spent in calm can help you combat the daily stressors of life.
If you have thirty minutes in your day to spare, go take a walk. If the weather is bad, do some stretching. Physical activity is obviously great for your body, but it supports your mental health too. As you engage in physical activity, whether it's jogging, yoga, or even yard work, you release feel-good endorphins. These endorphins not only help heal your muscles, but they also enhance your mind. If you've been in a rut at home or at work, begin to set aside 30 minutes each day for physical activity. The power of these endorphins may be the key to helping you mentally get over the rut.
Some days, it may be challenging to set aside an entire hour during a hectic day for a long break. However, if you can manage it, you should consider using this time to give yourself a forceful reprieve from the daily grind. Use this hour to change your environment. For example, pop into a nearby library or enjoy a cup of coffee in a local park. Be sure, however, that you're using the time as a true mental health break. If you're using your break to run errands like mailing a package or picking up a forgotten ingredient at the grocery store, you're not likely to achieve the restful benefit you really need.
When you're mindful about the way you spend your breaks, you're much more likely to feel better rested. You'll feel rejuvenated afterward and you might even experience improved creativity or motivation. We all get so busy in our lives that we forget how important these breaks are. Use them wisely! They can help you get through the weeks or months until you can eventually manage to take that Caribbean getaway.
My challenge for you this week:
Intentionally plan your daily breaks.
Determine the time of day that your energy level diminishes.
Develop a plan for scheduled daily break times for the purpose of energizing yourself.
Decide how you will make every minute devoted totally to you.
Implement your plan on a daily basis, including weekends.