Brain friendly breaks

Break-time-at-the-Justice-LeagueIt is Sunday evening 12th May and I am preparing for another busy week ahead. As I sit and think about feeling grateful for being able to do a job I love, work in a team of talented professionals and think about our valued clients and customers, I can’t help but think about how quickly the year is speeding by. Can you believe it, already the 12th May 2013.

Over the last year I have started to think about what time of the year is a good time for a break. Last year I managed to build a break time around presenting at a conference overseas and this seemed to work really well. So much so I am thinking this year again, mid year is a better time to stop for a break rather than over the busy Christmas period.

So why do we need to put the brakes on at times.

1. Declutter the mind

These days we live very busy lives, juggling work, children, relationships, traffic, technology etc etc – yes the list goes on doesn’t it. The workplace takes a lot of time and energy as we balance many tasks and activities during a working day or as consultants night as well!. So taking time out to declutter the mind is vital for health and well being. Taking a brain break assists to reduce the load off the Prefrontal Cortex (the┬áconscious part of the brain). The poor thing gets overloaded and needs a break and provided with nutritious food regularly. When we declutter the mind we rest and allow our mind and body to reduce stress and re-energise.

2. Chunk Tasks/ Time

I would have to be one of the worst at trying to juggle too many tasks at the one time. You know the drill – emails open, finishing a report, just need to make that other call, looking at what’s in the in tray, prioritising for the following day or week. Again this type of workflow, puts unnecessary pressure on the brain and our health. Our brain is a fabulous part of us, however with humans becoming more busy, the way we live our lives needs reassessing. I have moved to chunk my tasks on a daily basis. This means I allocate a particular amount of time to emails, only focusing on emails. I then move to the next activity or task and focus only on that for a specific amount of time and so the story goes on. It is quite remarkable what happens after a period of time. The mind starts to map out a different pathway and it is less tiring. For some personalities this is not an issue, however for many professionals that are quite driven in their work and endeavour to squeeze as many hours out of the day they can, this can be a useful tip.IMG_0376

3. Be mindful

There is a lot of information around about ‘mindfullness’. Being able to tap into the moment, that you are in at any given point in the day, reminds your brain to take a break. It is amazing how you feel walking along and stop to look at your surrounding, a point of interest, noticing two people deep in conversation or laughing, the sun on the water or a small child playing. By being more aware of our surroundings assists us to be more ‘mindful’ and assists us to take a regular break.

4. Exercise

We all know the benefits of exercise on our health and well being. Research suggests that undertaking physical activity, has a footprint in the body for up to 12 hours. Engaging in meditation and or yoga is also great for your brain as well. By stilling the mind and engaging the brain’s ‘braking system’ it slowssss things down and allows rest and reset as well.

So remember to have a brain brake/break to ensure rest and to allow you to keep up with the schedule you may have.