Taking a break from everyday work and family life is crucial for understanding yourself better. Whether you meditate, take yoga classes, or take a walk in the neighbourhood, the aim is to allow yourself to disconnect from the external world and connect to your wisdom, the intelligence that connects you to higher consciousness and that shows with clarity what’s important for you.
When you find yourself in that place of wisdom, you can think deeper about why you do whatever you are doing and what else you would like to do. However, for some of us who have an extreme sense of responsibility, it is more challenging than it sounds to walk out of the office or home and go out somewhere else where you allow your body, mind and soul to relax.
When I meet friends and ask, “How have you been?”, it’s highly likely that I get answers, like “busy” or “I can’t remember”. Daily, each one of us has so many things with priority 1 to deal with that we easily end up thinking we don’t even have time to get sick.
Charles Duhigg, author of “The Power of Habit”, talks about the importance of creating habits that allow us to think twice about what do we really want to get done.
For those of us who have a strong sense of responsibility to do everything for everyone and can’t stop easily, the first step in creating such habits is to find the intrinsic motivation for the activities that would create the space for thinking.
Here are some suggestions about how positive emotions can motivate us to start the habit of taking breaks.
As superficial as it may sound, positive emotions are strong behavioural drivers. Just think why you keep on eating the piece of strawberry cake. It is human to want to indulge ourselves in pleasure, fun, laughter or soothing, nurturing activities for the soul.
So, what is it that you would love doing?
Make a long list of loads of crazy, daring, fun, simple activities you would love doing. Tap into your creative thinking and try to come up with a long list. Then, choose one activity that you can incorporate in your work life, with minimum effort and that takes less than 5 minutes.
You may want to read a joke.
You may want to listen to an energizing song.
You may want to do a breathing exercise.
You may want to look at your child’s photo.
You may want to look through the window at the sky, etc.
What time of the day you would like to take the break? For example, it can be after the dreaded team meeting on Mondays, at 9am. Or before meeting an important client. Or, before leaving the office.
Book a date with your positive emotions
Find one or two words to describe the positive emotions you had during the short break. Schedule the next break and what you want to do during that break. In the second week, try to have two short breaks during the day. By the fourth month, you can have 3 breaks of maximum 5 minutes each.
In addition, after a month, you can choose another activity that you jotted down on the list. This time, choose one activity that takes about 30 minutes and create the opportunity to do it in between work and family time. For this activity, you would need to put in slightly more effort than for the short breaks at work. For example, it may require you to put the sneakers on and go walking, jogging or biking.
Now that it’s Summer in Helsinki, I chose to go walking in the sunny afternoons, for half an hour. This means that I end the work half an hour earlier than before. And since I am one of the persons who can’t go out for a walk just for the sake of it, I think of the lovely flowers I will encounter during my stroll. Some hectic days when thinking of the flowers is not enough, I take a look at the photos I took in the previous walks.
The photos are loving reminders that for me, walking becomes a therapy of colours and scent. This is an experience that makes me want to have the walk.
So, when deciding to move on to doing activities that take longer time, remind yourself what is the positive experience you are going to have. Positive experiences are not a luxury, are a necessity. They are crucial for healthy living.
New thoughts that may come to the surface of consciousness
When we live positive emotions, we become more relaxed and thoughts and emotions from the unconscious part of the mind are flowing in the conscious part.
We become aware of material, emotional, intellectual or spiritual needs that are waiting for further exploration.
It may dawn on you that it’s time to move to the country-side.
You may admit to yourself that you need better sleep.
You may want to be more social.
You may want to learn to live in joy and beyond your own thinking.
You may want to make stress a friend by looking into how you can relate to the uncertainty of life, etc.
Get curious and be mindful about new thoughts in your awareness. These are the thoughts springing from our inner wisdom and that show clearly how it is important to live.
I would love to hear from you. If you are one of those people with a strong sense of responsibility towards everyone and everything in life, how do you motivate yourself to take breaks?