How To Take A Break
When we're busy, it's not always easy to take a break and we push through, telling ourselves we don't have time to stop. I can tell you how important it is to press pause. But in the heat of the moment, when you're stressed and overwhelmed, having someone tell you why you should take a break isn't always that helpful.
Maybe what you need instead is a list of fun ideas you can play with. Practical suggestions about what taking a break might look like in reality.
Well, you're in luck! Here are some ideas to help you take a break:
Put the kettle on and enjoy your cuppa in a different space than usual, away from any work distractions. Just choosing to sit in a different chair switches things up a bit, helping your brain realise it can take a break. Maybe read a few pages of a book or your favourite magazine. Or just stare out of the window for a bit.
Pick an uplifting tune and have a dance. (You'll find some uplifting tunes to choose from on this 15-minute playlist.)
If you're craving connection in your break and you're in an office or a co-working space, why not arrange to go for a walk around the block with a few of your peers? If you fix a time for your walk at the start of the day, you'll have the added bonus of accountability and are more likely to follow through!
Put your break in your calendar and then honour it as you would a meeting with a client.
Do a quick blast of housework. This one comes with a health warning, though, and isn't for everyone. Some business owners are very strict about not allowing chores into their working day, which I completely respect. For me, it's about stepping away from my desk and shifting my energy; it's a conscious choice, not a distraction. However, if you tend to use housework as a procrastination tool and a way of avoiding tasks that feel uncomfortable or difficult, it may be best avoided during your working day, lest you lose an entire afternoon to re-organising the airing cupboard!
Set a timer. I have a timer going right now. And to make sure I actually take a break when it goes off, the timer is on my phone and my phone is on the other side of the room. If I want it to stop screeching at me, I have to physically get up and turn it off. And whilst I'm up, I may as well take a five minute breather.
Choose something fun to do on your break. In the summer, I used to step outside and do a minute or two of hula hooping in between clients. Now, I'm learning to juggle. A couple of minutes of flinging juggling balls about and chasing them around the room engages a different part of my brain, makes me laugh and gets me moving. Win-win-win!
Get a dog! Ok, this one's a bit extreme...but I do love how people with dogs are forced to leave the house whether they feel like it or not. You could also offer to walk a friend's dog.
If you’re feeling particularly frazzled – or even if you’re not – meditate. Just five minutes, in fact even just 30 seconds , can make a very big difference. You can use an app such as Headspace, Calm or Insight Timer. Or simply sit comfortably, close your eyes and focus on your breath.
Walk to the shops when you run out of milk. Ok, who am I kidding? Walk to the shops when you run out of chocolate. (It's 90% cocoa solids so I tell myself this is ok!)
And finally, another controversial one that works for me: watch 30-minutes of your favourite fun programme. I do this at lunchtime because I know that if I didn't I'd be checking emails or scrolling social media. Yes, I could listen to an inspiring podcast, watch a TEDTalk or read, but what I really need after 4-5 hours’ work is to switch off my brain and be passive for a while. Choosing to watch something that makes me laugh for half an hour ticks that box for me. And having that to look forward to means I'm way more disciplined about taking a proper lunchbreak. I honestly don't think I've eaten at my desk since leaving my 9-5 in 2016.
My final piece of advice? Try to avoid filling all your breaks with more 'doing'. We don't need to be productive all the time; it's simply not good for us. Yes, I sometimes enjoy 'doing' the washing up when I need a quick break, but I also make sure I sit quietly, get out for a walk or do something fun just for the sake of it (hello, attempting to juggle).
What do you do to help you reset and recharge? Why not write your very own list that you can refer to when you need to step away from your desk for a few minutes? Getting into a rhythm with your breaks when you're NOT feeling overwhelmed and frazzled will make it so much easier to take time out when you really need it.
I'd love to hear what's on your list, so please do share in the comments below.