Knowing when to pause and maybe even step away from something might just help you in the long run.
As Matt Ferguson wrote in a prior blog post on the Circadian rhythm, your energy and attention levels fluctuate on a regular basis. This natural biological clock governs to a large degree your physical, mental and behavioral peaks and performance. Knowing how to take advantage of not only the high points but the times when your energy or focus may wane can go a long way toward making you more effective overall.
In addition to honoring your own body rhythm, there is great wisdom and peace that can come from giving yourself a break. While during sleep your brain literally rids itself of toxins, during a five-minute walk around the office you can rejuvenate yourself in important ways.
Breaks big and small
After taking a week or even two to go on vacation, you know how much better you feel. But, you needn’t always seek such lofty breaks. In fact, holding out for only those times can hinder you. Instead of adopting an all-or-nothing approach to time away from the stresses and demands of everyday, let yourself build breaks into your daily routine.
The WebMD Health Services StressLess Stress Challenge
When people think about wellness challenges, the first thing that usually comes to mind is a walking or steps-based event. However, the WebMD suite of challenges is designed to address total well-being and encourage people to begin forming healthy habits – or to keep on with existing ones.
The WebMD Stressless Stress Challenge encourages people to spend five minutes per day on something that relaxes them. This happens over the course of four weeks and people can track their progress on a daily basis. The goal is that by the end, even if the five minutes weren’t taken every one of those 28 days, a new habit could emerge.
The concept really is about kindness to oneself. Even in small doses, increasing awareness of self care can help people take care of those around them and the tasks they must complete.
Rest and recovery can leapfrog performance
Think of how you feel when waking up from a solid night of sleep versus how you feel when waking up after only a few hours of sleep. Now think about how the rest of your day goes depending upon that sleep.
If you like to go to the gym and suddenly find yourself there every day in a row for a week, what might happen if you took a day off? How might your body respond when you go back? Chances are it will feel much better and the exercise that felt hard two days before suddenly does not.
In any arena, both personal and professional, you can improve your day and therefore your well-being by giving yourself a break. This might look like going to bed 30 minutes earlier or it might be closing your eyes at your desk for a few minutes and focusing on your breath. It might be different every day and that’s ok because what matters is that it’s there at all.