Welcome back Wallflower! I hope you are hanging in there and finding time to do things that make you happy. This one is for all of you exhausted students out there and anyone who is overwhelmed with work, school, or life in general. I hope that you find these tips helpful and that you are able to continue down the path to self-care.
Our actions can feel automatic these days. We go through the motions and try to get things done just to do it all over again the next day. Doing activities that help you slow down or reset might seem unnecessary or like a waste of time. Our society and our lifestyles put a lot of value on productivity, contribution, and working hard in every aspect of life which, although are all great things in moderation, can lead to feeling burned out and overwhelmed. As a bit of a self-proclaimed perfectionist, I have many moments where I beat myself down about not doing enough, or not doing good enough, and some days it can feel really off track to take a break from something. I mean, if you are not checking something off your to-do list, why do it at all?
Well, don’t worry, because I’m here to flip that mindset on its head. Breaks are so necessary for your mental, physical, and emotional health, and making time for breaks, even really small ones, can have a significant impact, on your energy, mood, and productivity. So today I am going to share some tips with you on how to take breaks and make them meaningful ones.
Give yourself 15-minute tasks: This is one of my favorite strategies right now, and I have found that since I have started doing this my focus has improved dramatically. Pick a task off your to-do list, set a timer for 15 minutes, and go! Work on that task until the timer goes off and then take a break. This can mean switching gears to work on something else, doing one of the activities suggested below, or just looking out the window for a minute before setting another timer and going back to work.
Reorganize your workspace/or move somewhere else: Having a cluttered workspace can make your brain feel cluttered too. I, for one, have an incredibly messy desk (and entire room for that matter) and when I am overwhelmed by life, having an overstimulating environment around me can add to my levels of distraction and stress. Just taking a few minutes to reorganize or clear off your workspace, or if you lack the energy, to move somewhere else entirely, is a great way to reset your brain and reconnect with your environment.
Take a screen break: Step away from technology for a minute and do something away from screens. That thing can still be work if you want it to be, but it can be really nice to grab a book, or a sketchbook and some pens and escape the world for a little while.
Fill up a glass of water and grab a snack: I actually just did this one, and I already feel calmer and ready to get back to work. Staying hydrated and eating enough is so important, so go grab some fruit or a bag of your favorite chips and start snacking!
Get up and walk around: Yep, it’s that simple. Put down your notebook, phone, or computer, and stand up. If you have time for a longer walk, great! If not, even just taking a lap around the room or shaking yourself out can help you to reset and slow any busy or distracting thoughts.
Stretch or do yoga: Sitting hurts. Your neck and spine can feel out of whack and your muscles can cramp up, and I have found that stretching or doing some quick yoga can help you to feel more comfortable, grounded, and ready to work. I personally love doing videos from the Yoga With Adriene YouTube. A friend of mine recommended her videos to me early on in quarantine and they have honestly helped me so much! Adriene is very kind, funny, and down to earth, and her videos are always able to ground me or give me a good boost of energy when I need it.
Go outside: Being in nature is pretty much the best reset you can get. It puts things into perspective and reconnects you with nature and the world around you. You have space to think, or not think: it’s up to you. There are lots of days when I don’t even get outside anymore, but every time I do, I remember why I love this planet so much, and it gives me hope.
Some days these tips and strategies might be really helpful, and others not so much. That is 100% okay, and remember that not all of these things will work in every situation. They don’t always work for me either. Some days I find myself endlessly scrolling through Pinterest, reading the news, or watching videos instead of what I am supposed to be doing. In those moments I have to check myself. If it’s a break I need, then I’ll take it. If I realize that I’m not feeling motivated, I’ll see what I can do to fix that. In the end, it is about listening to yourself and doing what is right for you in a given moment. Never overlook how important it is to check in with yourself.
Share this post with anyone who you think could use a reminder to slow down, take a deep breath, and reset. 1, 2, 3 breathe…
The Woodland Wallflower