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Research Reveals How to Take a Better Break

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https://observer.com/2017/03/research-better-break-work-focus-news-feed/

observer.com

Research Reveals How to Take a Better Break
Until recently, when I needed a break I'd grab my phone. Whether I was bored, mentally fatigued, or just wanting a pick-me-up, I felt relief checking the news, Facebook, or Instagram. However, new research suggests there are good ways and not-so-good ways to spend our break time.

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Taking good breaks

This is important for your daily productivity. Good breaks can leave us feeling refreshed and energized. It can reduce mental fatigue, boost brain function and keep us on-task for extended periods....

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The brain and goal management

The prefrontal cortex of the brain is mainly responsible for goal management. It orchestrates attention, working memory and other cognitive resources to help us get what we want.

For a challe...

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Going Natural

Exposure to nature restores the mind. One study showed better working memory scores for people after a walk in a natural environment, but not in an urban setting.

If you are unable to go i...

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Doodle and Daydream

Have a moment with 'nothing to do'. Letting our minds wander without focusing on a specific goal, allows the brain's default mode network to take over and give some prefrontal cortex functions a re...

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Exercising Your Eyes

Do 20-20-20- eye breaks to alleviate eye strain and fatigue. Every 20 minutes, stare at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds.

Doing this requires blood to flow to brain areas th...

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Laugh

Laughter increases heart rate, respiration, and gets our blood pumping. Short term effects show some improvements on memory tests.

Spontaneous laughter and forced giggles all have the same...

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Exercise

Short bursts of exercise are helpful for cognition. Just 10 minute of physical activity can increase attention and memory performance.

Find a private space, do some pushups or planks, or take...

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Take A Break Every 52 Minutes

After analyzing 5.5 million daily records of how office workers are using their computer (based on what the user self-identified as “productive” work), they found that the top 10% of productive workers all worked an average of 52 minutes before taking a 17 minute break.

Distract Yourself To Recharge Your Focus

Intense focus actually makes us less focused in the long run. Instead of thinking about the problem without stop, we need to create distractions that take our attention away from the task at hand so we can come back at it with a fresh mind.

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Altering the brain

Altering the brain

In 2005, studies began to point out that meditation can change the structure of your brain by thickening the cortex. The cortex controls your attention and emotions.

You can reap the benef...

Mindfulness meditation

It typically refers to a practice for training your attention. It is an awareness that comes through paying attention in the moment, but non-judgmentally.

It involves sitting down with closed eyes and focussing on feeling your breath go in and out. When your attention starts to wander, you take note and bring your attention back to your breath.

Reduced amygdala activity

Meditation shows reduced activity in the amygdala, our brain’s threat detector. When the amygdala perceives a threat, it sets off the fight-flight-freeze response.

In a study, after practicing mindfulness for 20 minutes per day over just one week, participants showed reduced amygdala reactivity only while they were engaged in mindfulness, suggesting they need regular practice.

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Attention = Focusing + Ignoring

Paying attention involves two separate distinct brain functions: 

  1. “enhancement” - our ability to focus on things that matter) 
  2. “suppression” - our ability to ...

Suppressing distraction gets harder with age

Our ability to filter out distractions, not our concentration, diminishes with age. 

As we grow older we get more and more distracted. 

Less visual clutter to eliminate distractions

When your eyes are closed, your brain isn’t working as hard to filter out visual information. So: 

  • Use one screen, one browser window, and one computer program at a time.
  • Keep your physical and virtual desktop tidy.

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