It's morning in my home, everyone is still in bed and I am awake quietly enjoying my morning coffee. While the creative juices are flowing, I want to take a minute to talk about how important it is to take a break. To give yourself the day off or even just twenty minutes off. Sometimes all I can manage is 5 minutes – but either way, no matter how much time you can fit in or how little—take a break.
Your brain and your body can only handle so much information before it really starts to slow down. Think of it like a computer that is so full of stuff the processor just moves slower. It needs a good cleaning. It needs some junk files moved to the trash. When our computers get slow from being too full, we delete some information, move some files. When our minds get too full of information we berate ourselves for slowing down, and we push through. It just doesn’t make sense. So, I encourage you to pay attention to your day, to your body, to your brain—how well is your mind processing information throughout the day. Is your brain sharpest in the morning or late in the day? How does it feel around 2pm, 3pm or 4pm? What is your brain capable of at 8pm?
I noticed that I am very sharp in the morning—yes, I’m a morning person, you may not be. By late afternoon, around 2:30 or 3pm, I start to slow down. My thinking and decision making isn’t what it was at 7am. So that is my cue to take a break. Step outside and take a walk. Go sit under a tree and just be with nature. Maybe I do some breathing techniques (see below), smell some essential oils to calm me or wake me or just make me happy (see below).It’s a good time to put some music on and pop in the headphones, just jam out or jam and dance around. Usually 5-20 minutes is enough to revitalize me.
When I was a kid, my sister and I used to climb onto the sofa and hang our heads over the edge looking at the world upside down. It was crazy fun and a wildly creative break. We would dream out loud about what life would be like if it was upside down. How we would have to step over door frames to enter another room. How windows would be lower and closer to the floor—better for us! We could just step through them. Some really tall people would need to duck to avoid the tables and things stuck to the ceiling and that would always make us laugh. It’s a fun flip things around world and I still do it to get my creative juices flowing.
By-the-way, laughter is another excellent way to take a break. I mean really laugh, laugh out loud. So get up stretch your arms and legs, fill your glass of water, and listen to some ridiculously funny comedian on your headset. After a few really good laughs, you might just be ready to get back to work or whatever task you were doing and you might find that it is all fresh again.
By 5:30pm I’ve usually hit decision fatigue and just can’t get up the juice to make another decision, sometimes even just what to cook for dinner! When I’m feeling this way, it’s essential that I get up and move, even if it’s just taking a walk to the kitchen to get a glass of water or check what’s in the fridge to throw together for dinner. I need to move my body--loosen things up. Sometimes a quick sun salutation or other rejuvenating yoga pose and I am back at greater capacity. Here are some other ways I refresh when I am hitting the wall—seriously, this is important—take a break!
Today, I encourage you to take a break, and if you are able, take the whole day off. Give yourself a mental health day and just expect nothing. Do things that are spontaneous and will fill you up with laughter or relaxation or nature or any other thing you enjoy as self-care.
Breathe In, Breathe Out: Inhale Energy and Exhale Stress by Guiding and Controlling Your Breathingby James E. Loehr and Jeffrey A. Migdow
Insight Timer phone app for guided meditations
Breathe Ball app for breathing breaks throughout the day
Essential Oils--try them out for yourself, but some of my favorites are: Lavender essential oil for calm, Peppermint for waking up and revitalizing, Rosemary for restoring learning and memory capacity, Rose for joy and feeling loved, Ylang Ylang or Neroli for creativity, Sandalwood for grounding.