Killing Time – The Real Dangers of Not Taking Proper Breaks


Killing Time – The Real Dangers of Not Taking Proper Breaks

Finally! Another workday has come to an end and it’s time to switch off; you’re ready for a spot of relaxation. It’s been hectic and you’re just dying to get a rest, physically and mentally. But, unfortunately, your brain doesn’t seem to have got the memo. You’re wired, tired – and too damn exhausted to even contemplate a rest.

Sounds weird, yet familiar? Relax, your experience is not uncommon. And there are ways to get you back into energiser bunny form.

Understanding the Too-Damn-Tired-to-Rest Dilemma

The paradox of being ‘too-tired-to-rest’ is one we all easily fall into, especially at the end of a long day of slog. Because our ability to truly switch off is hinged on our reserves of willpower. Believe it or not (but you better do if you want to do something about it), switching off actually takes effort and energy.

Ego depletion theory explains why we fail so abysmally at effectively influencing our behaviour after working like a horse all day. Willpower is a resource that is used up through effortful acts, leaving us depleted and open to temptation (or plain laziness).

Ever felt too tired to move off the couch and go to bed? You might be suffering from ego depletion or bedtime procrastination – not going to bed at the intended time, with nothing really preventing you to do so. This will mean less sleep – and less energy tomorrow. Repeat vicious cycle.

Scientifically Proven Steps to Truly Restful Breaks

As busy business people, how can we then escape the traps of exhaustion and fit in regular breaks that truly benefit us? What can we do when the pressure is on and we don’t seem to have the time to take a break, though we badly need one?

To avoid paying a high price later for not looking after yourself now, work these three steps into your routine. Your body and mind will thank you (and so will your colleagues, family and friends), trust me.

Step 1: Fully switch off

Not So Smart – Smartphone Breaks

I’m as guilty as the next person of having a ‘quick break’ stepping away from the desk or lounging on the couch in the evening, checking my phone, reading the latest news or Facebook posts. The bad news is – it’s not a true break but may raise our levels of anxiety due to fear of missing out (‘FOMO’) and too many choices and distractions. Reading on your phone loads up your brain. And so you might as well have continued working…

Smart – Chat to a Person

Chinwag with a friend or colleague about something you’re passionate about – or nothing in particular. Just don’t make it work stuff or your tax bill.

Step 2: Short breaks, early + often

Just like your car needs fuel to run and your phone needs recharging, you, too, need boosts of energy; as food and mental rests. Not just at the end of the day, but throughout the hours you’re at work: to function properly and not let exhaustion get the better of you.

So schedule regular 10 to 30 minute breaks into your calendar and treat them like a client meeting. Set a timer to a set period that you work intensely – and then stretch or walk around the office for five minutes. Meditate. Lock yourself in the bathroom. Whatever works for you, pick it. Just ensure that you start before lunch – not when you hit the afternoon slump.

Step 3: Get Out!

Don’t sit on it – move it! Your chair is trying to murder you, so time to get your own back. Whether we’re vegging in front of the TV or slouch our way through the day in our office chairs, cars and commute – as a species, we are sitting ourselves slowly to death.

There are many varying opinions and study results that advocate different exercises, move-sit ratios and approaches, and it can be bewildering. But while there is not one absolute antidote to death-by-sitting yet, I guarantee you that if you get up and move more than you do right now, you will be fitter, healthier and more productive.

Give it a go – instead of grabbing your phone for a break, walk around the block (you might even get the rejuvenating benefits of nature while you’re at it). Take the bus or train to work, not your car. Swap the telly for the treadmill for half an hour.

Whatever you do – just get the hell out.

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  • Roland Hanekroot

    great reminders… I’ll go and look at my sour dough now and hope that will get me back to my energiser bunny state!

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