Have you taken a break yet today? The minutes tick by and before you know it, you’ve worked solidly through the morning and through lunch. Breaks are essential. Not a quick brew, not bolting down a quick something to eat and then getting straight back to it. A proper, take a deep breath and refocus break. You need a break in the morning, a break for food and in the afternoon. They don’t need to be long breaks before you start throwing your hands in the air or having palpitations over that “to do” list that's been keeping you awake at night, even 15 minutes will do if you are pushed for time.
Some things you probably didn’t know about your brain
We ask a lot of our brains throughout the day. Our brains are responsible for managing our automatic functions, such as heartbeat, breathing, digestion and control of body temperature. Our brains manage our motor functions, such as movement, gesturing, balance, posture and speech and finally our brains are responsible for our thinking, emotions, behaviour and senses (eg sight, sound and touch).
The effects of rest on the brain
There is enough electricity in the brain to power a small lightbulb. If you are tired then your brain is not as good at filtering out distractions and focusing on a particular task. It’s also a lot less efficient at remembering connections between ideas or concepts. If you imagine your brain as lightbulb, without sufficient rest it flickers or dims. Regular breaks give your brain a chance to rest and re-energise. Purposeful breaks refresh your brain and help you see situations or problems in a new way.
Why take breaks?
1. “Movement breaks” are essential for your physical and emotional health. The benefits of taking brief movement breaks have been well-researched. Constant sitting—whether at your desk, the TV, or the lecture hall—puts you at higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, depression, and obesity. Getting up from your chair to walk, stretch, do yoga, or whatever activity you prefer can reduce the negative health effects from too much sitting. Just a 5-minute walkabout break every hour can improve your health and well-being.
2. Breaks can prevent “decision fatigue.” The need to make frequent decisions throughout your day can wear down your willpower and reasoning ability. Decision fatigue can lead to simplistic decision-making and procrastination.
3. Breaks restore motivation, especially for long-term goals. The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. One of the goals of this particular technique is to reduce the impact of internal and external interruptions on focus and flow. By concentrating for short periods of time with regular rest intervals the brain is more focussed on the task and less fatigued.
4. Breaks increase productivity and creativity. Working for long stretches without breaks leads to stress and exhaustion. Taking breaks refreshes the mind, replenishes your mental resources, and helps you become more creative. Taking regular breaks raises levels of engagement which is linked to productivity.
5. “Waking rest” helps consolidate memories and improve learning. Scientists have known for some time that one purpose of sleep is to consolidate memories. Resting while awake also improves memory formation. During a rest period the brain reviews and ingrains what it previously learned.
Time for a break?
Leave your desk
Leave your phone
Get a drink
If you can, go outside!
I believe that in order to be successful we also need to be happy. Are you too afraid to take your foot off the gas and take a break in your business? If this is you then I am guessing that this is not how you envisaged your future or what success looks like for you. If you would like to create a different life, one where you are able to switch off and breathe get in touch.