”Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” – Anne Lamott
I used to be a queen of ‘powering through’ – I saw something very positive about not giving myself any break. I was going through my days on autopilot, and while not being aware of it – pushing myself to the point of exhaustion. I thought that’s what people do if they want to achieve their goals and eventually turn their dreams into reality. It took me years of hitting points of tiredness, where resting was no longer an option. My body would literally get ill. Let’s be honest, stress and not giving ourselves time to rest impacts our immune system more than anything else so we become more prone to viruses and all sort of illnesses. At that point, I would also find myself in moments where living in London seemed not what I want any longer. It felt like city itself made me tired, which in reality was mostly due to my own habits, that had very little to do with my surroundings. Once I stopped looking outwards and turned inwards, I was able to identify certain patterns that led me to feeling that way. The next step was to start creating a solution. Which was learning how to take a break.
Nowadays, whilst I agree that there are moments and times when we have to simply ‘deal with it’ and power through some busy yet important days, most of our days in reality have that time for taking a break.
Below are the ways how we can take a break in the middle of the day. No matter where we are or what we are doing, there is at least one thing in this list that surely we can do. This transformed the way I work and live each day, and now I am sharing this with you:
1. Have a cup of hot beverage. Coffee or tea; I am not here to judge your caffeine intake (at least not in this post 😉 (moderation) so I will just say that it does not matter so much as it’s more about the ritual itself. Don’t just grab it and run but instead sit down and relax. Take your time. You deserve that time for yourself.
2. Go for a walk. The best is if you take a walk somewhere new rather than familiar, go and explore, even if it is for 15 minutes on your lunch break. It’s good for both our body and our mind.
3. Get into nature. Nature changes how we feel. It’s a place to retreat and relax. It has this magical ability to cleanse our mind. You don’t have to buy a ticket to Amazon jungle, if your office is in the middle of the city, finding a local park is all you need.
4. Listen to your favourite songs (and don’t be afraid to move to it). I do it on my most intense days (moving part, I listen to the music all the time). The power of music is incredible – it can transform our mood, and help us to relax anytime, anywhere.
5. Read uplifting article about life. Personally, I like reading articles that I find on Tiny Buddha, Goalcast, or even Richard Branson’s blog. I consciously choose to read about things that interest me and that tend to be conveyed in the positive and uplifting manner, rather than watching news on TV or reading newspaper that only tell us about all the bad stuff that happens in the world. We aren’t saving anyone by consuming all the bad news. My motto is: read for feeling empowered, not sad and hopeless.
6. Breathe, deeply. This one I’ve discovered when there was actually nothing else to do (when you are in overcrowded train and there is no space even to stand properly let alone reading something etc.) Just breath. Simple exercise: inhale count of 4 and then exhale to a count of 6. Repeat this several times. This helps our body and mind to relax and leaves us in a good state.
7. And last but not least is Laugh. Find something funny either in your surroundings or listen to your favorite comedians on YouTube. Also two words: Lad Bible. This always works. Laughing is the best medicine, and one of the best ways to give ourselves a break in the middle of a busy day.
As you may have noticed this post does not include any ‘Buy a new outfit’, ‘Treat yourself with a cake’ or ‘Book a spontaneous trip’- although these things could feel like taking a break in a long run they rarely bring satisfaction, especially that my intention is to suggest things you can do daily. I believe in little habits that not only gives us a boost in a moment but has a long term positive impact on our well-being. Taking a break when our body needs it, not only allows us to switch off that familiar autopilot mode but also is good for our mind. Small breaks allows us space to relax and to avoid burnout. You know people who all of the sudden feel fed up with their lives and leave for woodlands? We do not tend to reach this point overnight, it’s always accumulation of emotions over a long period of time. What if we just learn how to approach life with taking a 15 minute break exactly on a day and moment we need it, instead of telling ourselves that it’s not productive thing or it can wait? Would we possibly have a healthier and more satisfied human population? The answer is yes, so our task is start with ourselves and learn how to take a break, not to wait or quit. Even if it’s just a 15 minutes.