How To Take a Break

Taking a Break

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I’m not talking about breaks like a vacation or a day off or a leave of absence.  I’m talking about a little 15 minute break taken daily.  I’ve written about the power of 15 minutes for cleaning and organizing, but 15 minutes also makes a difference when it comes to renewing your energy level and motivation.

I’ve been a full-time homemaker for most of my adult life.  As long as I can remember, I’ve taken two breaks every day – one at lunch and one at 3:00 each afternoon.  The lunch break makes perfect sense but I have no idea where the 3:00 break came from.  All I know is that nearly every day I stop at 3:00 and take about a half hour break.  I don’t have to even look at the clock to know when it’s break time – my body and mind know.  And I can tell if I skip my break.

My break time tends to be pretty much the same every day.  I get a coke, a small snack and a book.  I sit, usually in the same location, and read, drink my coke and eat my snack.  After about half an hour, I get up and get back to work.  I LOVE my break.  I look forward to it every single day.

When I worked full-time, obviously I was not able to take a break at 3:00 every day and sit and read for 30 minutes.  And sometimes I didn’t take a break.  But if I had it to do over again, I would take a break everyday around 3:00.  I might not have 30 minutes, but I could sure take a few minutes to go walk around the building, sit outside for a minute or something quick and refreshing.

You see, it’s not good for people to just work, work, work and work some more.  We need breaks.  Even short breaks are beneficial.  I always thought not taking breaks made me a better employee.  But it didn’t.  It just made me more tired and less productive.

Taking breaks are rejuvenating and make it easier to come back and be productive. If you’re a break skipper, here are a few ideas to make taking a break easier & more rewarding.

If you’re home:

Take your break as close to the same time every day as possible.  That will create a habit.

Decide on a time frame – 15 minutes, half an hour, etc.

Set a timer so you don’t have to keep checking your watch to see how much time is left.

Figure out a few things you can do that will help you relax and renew.  I like to read and have a snack.  You could:

      • Take a short nap.
      • Watch some tv.
      • Play a game on your iphone.
      • Surf the net or catch up on facebook.
      • Take a quick walk.
      • Water the plants (my husband LOVES watering plants – I think it’s about the most boring thing in the world).
      • Play the piano.

If you’re at work:

Take your break as close to the same time every day as possible.

Don’t try to take a break at your desk.  LEAVE YOUR DESK – even if you just go to the bathroom.

If you have a desk job, try to get up and move around during your break.  If you have a physical job, try to sit and relax during your break.

Get some fresh air if you can.  Some offices have picnic tables or benches outside the building.  That’s perfect.

Don’t skip a break even if it’s just a few minutes.  A few minutes can still work wonders for your mood and energy level – as long as you leave your desk!

And for everyone:

  • Don’t feel guilty.  Breaks are good things & will make you more productive in the long run.
  • Don’t do anything stressful, like calling creditors.
  • Do what makes you feel relaxed even if other people think it’s crazy.
  • Don’t feel guilty.  Oh, did I say that already? I really mean it.
  • Don’t discount the value of a break.  If you’re not in the habit of doing it, give it a try.  If after a week you don’t think it’s beneficial, then don’t do it.
  • Make it a routine so you don’t even think about it.  When I take my 3:00 break, I don’t give it a second thought.  I just do it.

Do you take regular breaks? What do you do on your breaks?  If you don’t take breaks, why not?

Comments

  1. These are great ideas. I often take breaks at work- it is the nature of the business. :) I stop and fix a cup of tea or a pot of tea if a friend comes in. I usually take a break on my days at home, but am not always disciplined to keep it short! I need to work on that.

    • My breaks can run long, too, Kathy – especially if I’m reading a really good book! That’s where setting a timer can help so you know when you have to stop. If you just look at your watch, it’s easy to blow it off. But if a timer dings, it’s a little more official.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Love this! Do you ever take a 15 min cat nap? I find that if I do I’m so refreshed. Don’t do it now cause I work but when I stayed at home I did. Miss!!!!!!!

    • Jennifer, I’m not a napper. I know lots of people who swear by the 15 minute cat naps but they don’t do much for me. Plus, and this is silly, but I have really curly hair so if I lay down, it messes up my hair and it really can’t be fixed without another shower. So taking a nap just isn’t worth it. I pretty much only nap if I’m sick. My family knows that if I take a nap, something must be really wrong!!!

      I worked for someone who used to take short naps nearly every day. He was the boss so he could do that. I made a huge difference for his energy level and motivation.

  3. excellent advice. i try to get myself to sit, just sit and do nothing, for 15 min a day. easier to do when the weather is nice and i can sit outside.

    also, when i was working in the stressful ER job, i found I needed at least a long weekend every couple of months and a week off twice a year, or else i would start getting nasty to the patients! fortunately, was able to do this.
    great post, thanks
    doug
    doug puryear recently posted…Women and ADD ADHD part 2My Profile

    • That’s a really good idea, Doug – sitting and doing nothing for 15 minutes. I’ve noticed that since I got my iPhone, I can’t just sit anymore. Anytime I have a few minutes, like waiting in a line, I pull out the phone. I used to be able to just stand there and think about random things. Now I have to do something. I’m going to try the quiet sitting. Of course, that’ll be separate from my regular break when I get to read my books! :)

  4. Dianne in the desert says:

    Breaks! Love them! Yes, breaks are important. I try for a short break mid-morning, but making sure that I took one was a bit difficult until I began scheduling the time that I take my daily vitamin. I have meds that have to be taken and they need to be taken before the vitamins by at least one hour. So meds at 0830, then vitamins at 1000! I have another medication to take mid afternoon, so I take a break when I take that pill. I also use those breaks to get a good drink of water or iced tea. When I do not take a break, my mind and body let me know about it. Thank you for another terrific post!

    • Dianne – I would take a break in the morning, too, except I get up too late to need one. But I would think that schedule your break around your medicine would help you be sure to take it. That’s a great idea.

  5. I love this. I know I always feel better after taking a break and making myself go outside to at least drive around a nearby park (I call it my nature break). It makes such a difference. I need to do better about scheduling myself a break when I’m at home. I find on days I’m here that I either (ahem) end up taking a break all day long so not really getting anything accomplished or not taking a break at all and getting fairly grumpy by dinner time. I did better during the school year when I knew to take a few minutes before my younger son arrived home (my older son needs downtime so I’d usually use his arrival home as a clue to give myself a break and make a cup of tea).
    Jean recently posted…Calm Down BoxMy Profile

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