I hear many people speak of not taking lunch or their 15-minute breaks at work because they have too much work to do. Research shows, “Employees who take breaks are more productive and creative. Breaks keep workers focused and engaged… which enables them to complete their tasks… with fewer errors” (Ferguson, n.d.). Changing your environment briefly can rejuvenate your physical and mental well-being. Hence, why people must walk away during a disagreement, or need to leave an overwhelming activity/ moment (i.e., big crowds, screaming children). We NEED to rest and rejuvenate between our daily duties so we can gain energy to finish the day. If you struggle with letting go of work thoughts on the way home, find a billboard or landmark as a que to tell your brain, “Ok, it’s time to stop thinking about [task at work] and start thinking about [task at home].”
Without obstacles, we do not learn how to become resilient, to problem solve, or use critical thinking. Take those obstacles and make them successes by using a few of the following ideas to regain and maintain your strength.
- Spend Time in Nature/ Town: Extrovert or introvert, people need to be outside to feel the earth under their feet (stability, mindful of the present moment), enjoy the crisp air blowing your hair (take a deep breath, exhale any intrusive thoughts from the body, and imagine it blowing away in the wind), feel the warmth of the sunlight on your face. Go for a walk in the neighborhood, downtown, at the park, sunbathe in the backyard, go visit a waterfall, walk around the parking lot during your breaks at work, attend a festival, compete in a sport with friends/ family, meditate or read a book in the middle of a field, go swimming, drink your coffee on the patio… the list can go on forever. Find peace and indulge in it for a moment.
- Indulge in an Interest/ Pamper Yourself: You notice how fresh you feel after a shower/ bath? Like you momentarily washed away all the stress from the day. There are other ways to feel that relief. It feels refreshing to: stand outside in a cool breeze, do your nails, fix a car, clean the house, get a new outfit, change your hairstyle, get a massage, sit in a hot tub, try a new recipe, rearrange your bedroom/ living room, play a game with the kids, have a cup of tea on the porch, reading, writing in a journal or a letter to someone you love (yourself, maybe?), eat your favorite meal, put a puzzle together, listen to music/ podcast, paint, moisturize/ exfoliate your skin (feel the lotion softens your skin), spend time with friends, color in a coloring book, dance, play/ cuddle with your pet, sing, study something of interest, make a goal list, play a musical instrument, watch your favorite show, put on fake tattoos, make a mood playlist, gardening, start a collection, teach your pet a new trick, scrapbooking, volunteer, get a hug/ cuddle, paint your face, start a craft, sculpting, go to a party, spin in your chair at work, sewing, play frisbee/ disk golf, go to a dog park to play with other people’s dogs, spa day, DIY projects,… I could go on forever. It is important to understand not everything new you try is going to relax you but at least you can say you tried a few different things and finally found something awesome.
- Set Boundaries: I know I’m not alone when I admit to allowing people to push my buttons. That demonstrates I did not have boundaries with them. “I already have 25 other things to do today. Why did I commit to another duty when I knew I couldn’t take it on?” Yep, you too? Knowing when to say “No” is important, especially for us “people pleasers.” Being the “Yes! A person” can be exciting at times but knowing and saying, “enough is enough” can lighten the load without destroying your reputation as a “hard worker.” Saying No actually says, “I’m not going to do a mediocre job with my current duties. I have made adequate time to complete what is on my plate today, with integrity.” Don’t get me started on toxic people that just want what you have. That is a whole separate set of boundaries. It is one thing to be helpful but to work harder than they do toward their goal is enabling.
- Give Yourself Grace/ Praise Yourself: Sometimes, what you can do is all you can do. Appreciate yourself for it! Recognize you do not have power or control over every situation/ challenge. Prioritize what is important and work on what you have control over. Put the rest aside for another time/ day. There are some things that are out of your control, no matter how hard you try to “fix” them. Some of us with Anxiety sometimes feel that we are the only ones that know “how to do it right”, but we must learn to trust others to make good decisions and use critical thinking. When the day begins and ends, remind yourself how hard you work to create a good life for you and your loved ones.
Ferguson, G. (n.d.). The importance of employee breaks. Retrieved from