We could all use a break from time to time. This is especially true when we’re using so much mental, emotional, and even physical energy to work toward something ambitious.
Whether it’s a big project at work that calls for some serious problem solving, a college assignment that requires a lot of creativity, or maybe even a tough yoga pose/sequence that you really want to nail down in your practice — making sure you take the right type of break at the right time is critical to keep you going strong.
Unfortunately, many of us don’t know how to take the perfect break. Either we work so long and so hard that we eventually lose our steam, or we take unproductive breaks that suck us into distraction and make it harder to get back into the flow of working toward our goal.
Taking the perfect break requires enough discipline to stop what we’re doing at the right time, take the right course of action during out break, and get back to work when the time is right. The following tips will help you pinpoint exactly when and how you should be taking your breaks.
Take Short and Frequent Breaks
According to a study that examined the work and break habits of 97 employees over the course of a 5-day workweek, shorter and more frequent breaks were linked to better allocation of both mental and physical resources. This applies to yoga too. After a demanding sequence, pressing back into downward dog or child’s pose and remaining there for several breaths gives us the rest we need to continue on with our practice.
If we want to get specific about time periods, some research suggests that 50-minute work sprints and breaks lasting 15 to 20 minutes tend to hit the sweet spot for the best work-break balance. There’s also the popular Pomodoro technique, which involves working for 25 minutes followed by a 5-minute break, and completing a set of four of these before taking a longer 40-minute break.
Get Out of Your Environment
The environment that you’re working in or practicing in keeps you connected to the energies that you’re creating there, and sometimes, that can get overwhelming. Simply stepping out of the room or quickly outside can refresh both your mind and body on a very deep level as it forces you to disconnect for a moment from what you’ve been doing and come back to where you are right now.
Be mindful during your break in another environment, but don’t hold back from allowing your mind to wander, which has shown to improve creativity and problem solving in some studies. A natural environment like a park, garden, or courtyard would likely even enhance these effects, given the growing body of scientific evidence on nature’s therapeutic effects.
Moving our bodies is especially important for those of us who work at desks for long periods. Using your break to get up and walk around your environment or ideally walk around outside if your break is long enough for it has incredible effects on the brain by boosting creative thinking.
And if walking around isn’t really an option because you’re working in a cramped space of you’re limiting yourself to a 5-minute break, you may want to consider just getting up and moving around a bit to work out any stiffness, rest your mind, and get blood flowing again. Try some of these beneficial yoga poses that counteract the effects of sitting all day.
As a final bonus tip, remember to be intentional with your breaks. Breaks should be enjoyable, but they shouldn’t be an excuse to indulge too far in what you love so much so that it drives you completely off track. With practice and experimentation, you’ll be able to find your perfect break routine in no time!