Dare to live without limits Week of 7/29/19

Bryan Golden

Take a break, you’ve earned it and need it

Have you ever been fixated non-stop on a problem whose solution is frustratingly elusive? After days or weeks of no answers, you throw up your hands exclaiming, “I just don’t know what to do. I can’t think about this anymore.”
So, you stop consciously thinking about your problem. However, your subconscious mind is working constantly on finding a solution. Then one day, seemingly out of the blue, the solution you need pops into your mind. This happens because you have given your conscious mind a break.
Every aspect of your life requires strategic breaks in order to maintain your emotional and physical wellbeing. Recognizing when you need a break, and having the discipline to take a break is an essential life skill.
What happens when you are awake for 20 hours straight? Your body and mind become exhausted. Your functional efficiency is substantially diminished. You feel totally drained, unable to think clearly.
How do you feel after sitting for hours on end? Your mind and body become sluggish. You feel a lot less alert. Fatigue sets in. You have a need to get up and move around. You think to yourself that you just can’t sit any more.
Regardless of what you are doing, or not doing, you need to take breaks. Breaks are essential for maintaining your mental and physical health. When you are exercising, you need a rest break. When you are sedentary, an exercise break is required. It’s impossible to remain functional without the proper amount of sleep. Too much sleep is also deleterious.
Breaks enable you to recharge. They prevent burnout. Both your mind and body require breaks to regenerate. Sleep is one type of essential break. But you also need regular, strategic breaks during waking hours as well. A break is simply changing gears so that you are engaging in a different activity.
Athletes take breaks by resting, along with varying the types of exercise they do. People who work in an office environment take breaks by exercising. A person in a physically demanding job would take a break by engaging in mentally challenging pursuits. Someone who has a mentally demanding profession would take a break with physical activity not requiring a lot of thought.
Fatigue clouds your mind and negatively impacts your judgment. Breaks clear your mind which gives you a fresh perspective. Seeing a situation more accurately enables you to make appropriate decisions.
Complacency sets in as boredom takes hold. Your attention is diminished by endless repetition. Accident rates rise with people who don’t take enough breaks. Mistakes are also more frequent, and quality is diminished.
Since stress is exacerbated by fatigue, breaks help reduce stress. Without breaks, stress has a cumulative effect which builds over time. Prolonged stress starts to become accepted as a normal baseline which causes the stress to be acknowledged as ordinary.
Breaks don’t have to be prolonged to make a difference. Short breaks, taken on regular basis, are very effective. The key is taking a break before burnout sets in. Breaks are more effective on the preventative side.
Taking a break is simple. All that is required is doing something different for at least a brief period of time. Even just doing nothing qualifies as a healthy break from a hectic schedule. Life need not be an endurance test.
Stay in touch with your mental and physical state. It’s time to take a break when you find yourself getting exhausted, burned out, stagnated, or bored. Your breaks should be varied as well. Breaks lose their appeal and effectiveness when they become repetitious.

NOW AVAILABLE: "Dare to Live Without Limits," the book. Visit www.BryanGolden.com or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at bryan@columnist.com or write him c/o this paper.  2019 Bryan Golden


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