Bev White

My name is Bev White and I am the CEO of Nash Squared, a £1.3bn global technology and talent solutions provider with 49 offices across the USA, Europe and Asia

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Give me a break

It seems to me that every day things seem to come at us at an ever-faster pace, demanding our attention and our time. In today's fast-paced and demanding world, we often find ourselves juggling multiple tasks, deadlines, and responsibilities. We may feel that we have to keep working without breaks, or that we have no time to relax and unwind.  

However, I know from personal experience, and from seeing the impact on those around me, that this can have negative consequences for our mental and physical health, as well as our performance and creativity. Taking breaks and finding periods of quiet in a busy day are essential for our well-being and productivity, so how can we incorporate them into our daily routine?

Finding periods of quiet

Taking time out in a busy day can have many benefits for our brain and body, helping to reduce stress and prevent burnout. When we work for long periods without breaks, we can sometimes experience increased levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which in turn can increase our blood pressure, and affect our mood and memory. By taking breaks, we can lower our stress levels and restore balance, which can improve our health and well-being.

When we work for long periods without breaks, we may experience mental tiredness, which can reduce our ability to concentrate, process information, and make decisions. By finding periods of quiet, we can renew our mental energy and refresh our attention, which can enhance our performance and productivity.

When we work for long periods without breaks, we may get stuck in a fixed mindset, which can limit our ability to generate new ideas, find solutions, and learn from feedback. By taking a breath, we can stimulate our brain's default mode network, which is responsible for imagination, insight, and innovation.  

By allowing our mind to wander and freewheel, we can access our subconscious thoughts, connect different concepts, and discover new perspectives, which can improve our creativity and problem-solving. Have you ever found yourself pouring over a complex problem and suddenly realise that for the past 10 minutes you have been staring into space, I know I have?  That’s our brain forcing us to take a break.

Taking a break during a busy day

Taking breaks in a busy day may seem challenging, but it is possible and worthwhile. I know how often I hear myself say in any given day “I haven’t got time to stop, there is just too much to do!” Well, if I don’t my brain will do it for me anyway and not with the beneficial results I might get from talking a short walk, stopping to take some deep slow breaths.  

I know that it’s easy to say and harder to do, but I try to be mindful and present. When I take a break or find a period of quiet, I try to be fully aware and engaged in the moment. It’s not easy but avoiding checking your phone, email, or social media, is a good thing to incorporate as these can trigger stress and anxiety. Instead, focus on your senses, your breathing, your emotions, and your thoughts.  

You can also use apps like Headspace, which offer guided meditation and breathing exercises that can help you relax and refresh your mind. I have used these apps on planes, in the middle of busy airports or railway station platforms. I have been amazed just how quickly I can get the benefit from these micro time outs.  

Taking breaks and finding periods of quiet in a busy day are not a luxury, but a necessity. They can help us reduce stress, boost focus, enhance creativity, and improve our well-being and productivity. By planning our breaks and periods of quiet, choosing activities that suit us, finding a suitable environment, and being mindful and present, we can make the most of our time and energy, and achieve our goals.  

So next time you hear your thoughts shouting out at you to “give me a break”, make sure you listen.  

Have a great weekend.

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