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How to give yourself a mental break (and not feel guilty about it)

Outside the comfort of daily routines

We all have increased metal stress since we are rethinking all of our routines during the current pandemic.
All of us have an increased mental load due to the uncertainty, sometimes around things we’ve taken for granted like being able to go to the office or buying basic items.

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How to give yourself a mental break (and not feel guilty about it)

How to give yourself a mental break (and not feel guilty about it)

https://www.fastcompany.com/90480459/how-to-give-yourself-a-mental-break-and-not-feel-guilty-about-it

fastcompany.com

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Key Ideas

Outside the comfort of daily routines

We all have increased metal stress since we are rethinking all of our routines during the current pandemic.
All of us have an increased mental load due to the uncertainty, sometimes around things we’ve taken for granted like being able to go to the office or buying basic items.

Sleep more

Sleep has a positive impact on your mental, physical, and emotional health.
If you don't sleep well during the night, give yourself permission to take a nap during the day. Naps of 10-20 minutes can boost alertness without creating the post-sleep brain fog of longer naps.

Mini breaks throughout the day 

Plan and schedule breaks into your daily schedule.
Let your brain know that within a relatively short amount of time, you will have a clear break to check social media, walk around, respond to texts, or do whatever nonwork habit you want.

Invite yourself to lunch

Consider taking a real lunch break. 

Eat or do whatever you need to do to process and calm your internal self, so that you will be able to go back to work and focus on getting things done.

A real shutoff time

Set a time when you are done with work for the day, and give yourself permission to really disconnect in the evening.
While working at home, you may become unclear when your work stops and your personal time begins and you may feel guilty for relaxing.

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Sleep deprivation
Sleep deprivation

Willpower, memory, judgement, and attention all suffer when you are sleep deprived.

You drop things, crave junk food sugar, overeat, gain weight. You’re more irritable, negative, emotio...

Get through sleep deprivation:
  • Stabilize your blood sugar, by eating hearty food (protein and fat) more often.
  • Reduce refined carbs and increase fats and proteins.
  • B-complex vitamin supplements can give you an immediate boost in alertness and mental clarity.
  • Soak in an Epsom salt bath - might even help you get enough energy to exercise the next day.
  • Drink more water than you usually do to help compensate.
  • Exercise is the single best way to “take out the trash” in your body, and after staying up more hours than you should.
Recharge yourself physically
  • Take a warm bath. Try using Epsom salt in your bath. 
  • Use an exfoliating scrub to help recharge your body by improving blood circulation.
  • Change your diet...
Recharge mentally
  • Make a list of your accomplishments
  • Let go of past mistakes
  • Do something fun
  • Take breaks from things and people that bring you down
  • Spend time with close friends and family
  • Meditate or pray
  • Avoid multitasking
  • Take a break from technology
  • Do something artsy
  • Write in a journal
Why people feel drained

Most likely, exhaustion is linked to:

  • too much or too little physical activity
  • jetlag or something else that confuses your circadian rhythm
  • insomnia or lack of sleep
  • medications such as antihistamines and cough medicine
  • poor eating habits
  • stress
  • trauma
  • drug or alcohol use
Breaks keep us from getting bored

The human brain just wasn’t built for the extended focus we ask of it these days.

The fix for this unfocused condition is simple—all we need is a brief interruption (aka a break) to ge...

Breaks and brain connections

Our brains have two modes:

  • focused mode, which we use when we’re doing things like learning something new, writing or working) and 
  • diffuse mode, which is our more relaxed, daydreamy mode when we’re not thinking so hard.

The mind solves its stickiest problems while daydreaming—something you may have experienced while driving or taking a shower.

Breaks help us reevaluate our goals

When you work on a task continuously, it’s easy to lose focus and get lost in the weeds. In contrast, following a brief intermission, picking up where you left off forces you to take a few seconds to think globally about what you’re ultimately trying to achieve. 

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The time-blocking method

Simply means planning out your day in advance and dedicating specific hours to accomplish specific tasks.

Doing this requires determining in advance what you will accomplish and exactl...

The most important task method (MIT)

Rather than writing out a massive to-do list and trying to get it all done, determine the 1-3 tasks that are absolutely essential and then relentlessly focus on those tasks during the day.

Once you determine your 1-3 most important tasks, they are scheduled first in your day. You then make progress on essential items before you get bombarded by distractions. 

The Pomodoro Technique

Is all about working in short, massively productive, intensely focused bursts, and then giving yourself a brief break:

  • Choose a task
  • Set your timer for 25 minutes
  • Work on the task until the timer ends
  • Take a short break (around 5 minutes)
  • Every 4 Pomodoro sessions, take a longer break (15-30 minutes).

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Psychological Effects of Working from Home
  • Loneliness and isolation. And loneliness is associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and somatic symptoms like random pain.
  • Anxiety and pressure. The bounda...
Symptoms of Depression
  • Angry outbursts, irritability, or frustration, even with unimportant matters.
  • Loss of interest or happiness in activities such as sex or hobbies.
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia and sleeping too much.
  • Tiredness and lack of energy for even the smallest activities.
  • Increased cravings for food.
  • Anxiety, agitation, and restlessness.
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
  • Avoiding people.
Take Care of Your Mental Health

...while working from home:

  • Create a schedule and stick to it. Scheduling your tasks (and breaks) will help you to mentally prepare for the day.
  • Have a dedicated comfortable workspace, with a door that closes, preferably.
  • Fight the urge to stay sedentary and schedule active time to get your heart pumping.
  • Foster social connections (on the phone or via the internet, if physical contact is not possible).
  • Learn to say no. Know your limitations, set boundaries based on your schedule and workload, and don’t extend yourself beyond them.
The best time to nap
The best time to nap

The most natural time to take a nap, based on our circadian rhythms, is in the afternoon sometime between 2 and 4pm. 

The ideal time to snooze is when a nap would contain a good b...

Timing is everything

The best way to nap also depends on what kind of effects you’re looking for:

  • If you’re looking for a restorative nap, you should sleep later in the day when you have an increased amount of slow wave sleep.
  • If you’re looking for a nap that might aid your creativity and problem solving, you should sleep earlier in the day when you experience more REM.
Getting an early start
Getting an early start

Plan your morning the night before and stick to your plan. 
If a new task comes in that isn’t 100% urgent, designate a time that you’ll work on it uninterrupted or try to delegate the probl...

Deciding where to work
  • If you know you’re more likely to work from home, invest in comfortable furniture; you feel good it will inspire you to get work done.
  • If you want to join a local co-working space but are intimidated by the price point, ask about smaller memberships to start.
Prioritizing tasks

Don’t let your skepticism about productivity hacks get in the way of finding a technique that suits you and helps you get things done.
If you’re still having a hard time identifying priorities, try working backward by identifying work that’s definitely not a priority. Eliminate those items and assess what’s left.

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Why You Should Take Breaks
Why You Should Take Breaks
  • “Movement breaks” are essential for your physical and emotional health. A 5-minute walkabout break every hour can improve your health and well-being.
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When Not to Take a Break

When you are in a state of “flow” it is not good to take a break.

“Flow” is characterized by complete absorption in the task, seemingly effortless concentration, and pleasure in the task itself.

Good Breaks

A “good break” will give that goal-oriented Prefrontal Cortex of yours a good rest by switching brain activity to another area.

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Habits define your energy levels
Habits define your energy levels

Tine is not the basis for productivity. Energy is.

Having all the time in the world won’t help you if you’re exhausted for most of it. Having good habits help in keeping yo...

Sleep is the foundation of our energy

Poor sleep means you will start to underperform.

Research says 7-8 hours are pretty much mandatory if you’re going to stay cognitively sharp in the long-run.

Napping benefits

Even if it may feel lazy, napping has a range of cognitive benefits.

This is particularly true if you’re doing a lot of learning since the short burst of sleep can help with memory.

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