Why taking a break is super important
March 23, 2016 by Sara Redman
With the Easter long weekend upon us, it is a great time to pause and check in on our own state of wellbeing. On a scale of 0 -10 where 10 is optimal wellbeing where do you sit at the moment?
The latest Australian Psychological Society Annual Stress and Wellbeing Survey has found 35 per cent of Australians are currently experiencing significant levels of distress, and anxiety symptoms for 2015 were at their highest rate since the survey began. We feel that now is a great time to check in on your own wellbeing.
I hazard to guess that you have not been building enough recovery time into your days, weeks and months. If there were only ONE thing I could suggest you adopt to up your wellbeing, recovery is a pretty powerful strategy. In fact it is essential. In our busy, modern lifestyles with smart phones and technology all around us to ‘free us up’, we end up instead becoming dependent and attached. We tend to be always switched on, working across a greater spread of the day or week, simply because we can. This situation is fine if we factor in actual recovery time, down time, switch off time.
But if we just stay switched on, and keep expending mental and emotional energy on work by doing it, thinking about it, worrying about it, planning it in the front or back of our minds, guess what? We drain our mental and emotional energy reserves and become exhausted, stressed and wired. If we keep going like this we are edging closer to burn out and breaking down. When burn out comes ‘recovery’ stops being about some short effective breaks each day, and instead becomes months and months of time to rebuild our health energy and wellbeing.
So what can we do that is practical and helpful in terms of recovery? Here is a simple list of options:
- Take your lunch break every day or at least 3-4 times a week where you go out, get up, or go to the park to sit and eat peacefully rather than work & eat at the same time. This means you will wind down and you may end up eating less because you are paying attention so weight loss and energy gain may result;
- Set a reminder to pause 5 times a day to take just 1-2 minutes to breathe deeply. This will shut down the ‘flight or fight’ response of the stress cycle and bring you into a relaxed state. You will feel better, and conserve energy as you are out of the high stress state;
- If you have a sedentary job get up and walk around the block even if only for 5-10 minutes. Walk slowly and mindfully (read our mindfulness blogs here.) You will wind down, clear your head and improve your health by getting up from a seated position.
- Carve out some time each week where you ‘switch off’ all technology. Typically, Australians check their smart phones up to 60 times a day! This is a a lot of mental energy drain, and you will notice the benefits of shutting down and recovering in your state of mind and your energy.
- Take short stretch breaks through the day at your desk or by getting up and out. It only takes 5 minutes to loosen up and release any muscle tension and it will clear your head and re-energise you.
So over Easter I encourage you to map out just one energy building recovery strategy and implement it into your life on a trial over 6-8 weeks. Keep it if it is working for you, and trial another if it isn’t. You won’t regret it, I promise. Happy Easter!