The Work Break Dilemma

Our daily work and study o'clock are filled with one major, frown-awful dilemma. Stretched too thin between two far-away, yanking states, we wonder do we keep on marinating in work or do we take a brain break.

You do it too, don't you?

This dilemma seems to be given birth out of our best possible, god-honest intentions. "Today I'll give my brain some space to breathe."

Two calls, daily stresses, and a few unexpected notifications later, your brain - a dog's dinner at this point - justifies work marination. I mean, how couldn't it? Unexpected disturbances got you way behind schedule! You need to get more work in.

This quick brain break ↔️ work more dilemma ironically ends up walloping both desired states - calm and focus. Instead of feeling happy winging through your duties, you end up fluttering desperately on the ground looking at your tasks as they step over your wounded fanny.

You Need Brain Breaks No Matter the Scenario!

A young woman taking a break from studying by the pool

Time and again, we underestimate the importance of brain breaks. Let us say this loud and clear.

Brain breaks are as key to your work, as work is to your work.

And really, that's only just the tip of the iceberg... The benefits are as vast as that arctic glacier, both above and below the surface level.

In a randomized controlled trial done throughout eight different countries, researchers wanted to test the effects of physically active brain breaks on students. The result of the study indicates that these short bouts resulted in an improved attitude towards physical activity and brain breaks. Imagine the entire class saying: please, more of these.

If brain performance and well-being are what you’re after, physical activity breaks may be just the ticket. Fifteen minutes of deliberate physical activity in younger students was found to boost cognition and well-being. One way researchers believe these frequent breaks spurred up cognition and go-happy mental activity is through improvements in mood and self-confidence. Most likely a sequel to reducing poor health and stress at the source.

Even more striking than the benefits of physical activity breaks, is the upshot of injecting mindfulness exercises into your daily practice. It is found to be especially helpful to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. What's more, mindful brain breaks, if done right, could reduce pain and fatigue in people with chronic pain.

6 Calming Brain Break Activities To Bracket Your Focused Sprints

If you were looking for calming brain-break ideas, look no further.

We bring you a list of fun brain breaks that will uphold your energy levels, help you stay focused, and foster a relaxed state of mind you need to allow your brain and body to flourish.

All of these brain-break activities are carefully bundled to help students relish their projects; the workforce to rise to the occasion and stay healthy; and basically, everyone to electrify their genius with a golden radiance.

#1 Physical Activity Breaks

A silly mid-aged man wearing blue leather spandex dancing and sprinting in place

Whenever you feel like your brain just won't stop it's way past time to stop. That's where - and sooner than that - fun brain breaks should come in!

Physical activity breaks - you know, the joyous whips of action - are absolutely essential for a calming brain. They're all pluses, no minuses. And it doesn't even have to be difficult or boring. In fact, the key is to make them fun because your brain loves the frivolous spurts of body action.

You can do them without leaving your desk or wasting too much time! They also vitalize your spirit with a good sort of energy and help release the anxious jitters that may have built up during long hours of mental activity.

The best thing? Wakeout is in the business of making these fun brain breaks. Sedentarism pushed us to build a visual timer that helps you track your focused work. Moreover, an app guides you through the physical activity routine and cues you to cherish healthy moments. If that feels like too much too soon, starting with the blog will also provide handy guidance. Here's what we'd urge you to start with:

#2 Yoga Break To Help You Wind Down

If you think yoga is just for people who want to twist their bodies into knots, think twice! Yoga can give your body a workout without too much exertion. It's an amazing way to get your mind in the zone so you can move from task to task with ease and confidence. After the days of practice, you're likely to notice your self-regulation actually exists. You'll be able to resist, in fact, you'll wish not to engage in instantly gratifying activities.

If you're not naturally jumpy or full of energy, this meditative activity can be just the ticket to get your motivation and productivity flowing. Moreover, it's a definition of calming brain break plus body activation. So next time you need a mid-day break, or need to reduce stress, try a Yoga break instead!

6 desk yoga movements to release work tension
Desk yoga is a powerful antidote to work-related stress and tension. It can help ease shoulder and neck pain, so you can get back to being amazing at the day’s labor.

#3 When Things Turn Dull Engage in Quick Games

We've all experienced it. It's simply a fact of life: parts of our work get repetitive, redundant, or just straight-up boring. Paying attention is as enjoyable as getting stuck in traffic listening to radio adverts.

Loud and clear, again. This boredom is killing your attention and hurting your focus long-term! (Podcast source)

Research done by Innovation York’s Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) Unit, among many others, showed that the tendency to feel bored disrupts our attention and makes us do errors. In fact - no matter the nature of the task - the sustained attention itself was found to become boring.

It also makes us listen to podcasts, shows, music, whatever - just to entertain that bored sponge of ours. Which again - you guessed it - is not a good option. So, to stop wandering off around the room you might want to play quick games!

Rubik's cube brain break game

Yes, Rubik's cube, chess, math problems, jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, chess, and Neuronation-type of brain games. Even an art session, a card game, or a knitting practice can aid your brain in restarting. If you feel like staying on laptop, try Lumosity, Cognifit, Sharpbrains or BrainHQ. They won't just help you better bear the boredom, but are sure to nourish your brain power overall.

Every 30-40 minutes, along with desk exercises, you could engage in brain break games. Forbes reports that these brain breaks onset different cognitive functions, help adults keep their reasoning sharp, and stimulate processing speed.  

#4 Deep Breath Makes a Mindful Break

An animation of sloth taking deep breaths on a yoga mat

We're keen on making productivity a social norm, aren't we? We're not saying it's good or bad, this is not the time or place - that's just the way it is. And it's understandable. Performance matters both for personal and career endeavors.

The good thing that surfaced from practicing higher productivity though, is that it made us realize the importance of deep breathing, mindfulness, and awareness. In the last ten years - more so than ever - mindfulness practices are emerging to save us (westerners) from ourselves. And we're here to help you save you from perpetual brain work.

For your next activity, try to relax completely and engage in deep breathwork.

Get comfy in your chair or lie down on the floor. Do all you need so your body is completely relaxed. Now, breathe in through your nose letting your belly rise as it soaks in the air. You can place one hand on your belly and the other one on your chest. Feel your belly rising. The hand resting on the belly should move more so than the hand placed on your chest.

Take at least ten deep breaths and relax. Remember to engage in breathing exercises every now and then.

#5 Idle Mind Moment

Recommended by Wakeout's Cofounder, Pedro Wunderlich
Creative people need time to just sit around and do nothing. - Austin Kleon

And we dare saying not just creative folks, but everyone.

There is this theory that when you let your mind wander away to unforeseen realms, it aids your mental and physical health. Unconstrained thinking, whether you're walking, sitting, or hanging around in a lotus position... There's a chance it may be good for you. Yes, zero agenda, nothing to rush or force. Just you and your curious, disordered thoughts dwelling over unfinished mental business.

And how, you may wonder, could this be good for you? What about the notorious overthinking that got you in all sorts of various pits in the past?

An animation of a person overthinking things

Well, humans have an innate capacity to think things over. Unlike other animals, we spend 46.9% of our waking hours pondering something else that we're not momentarily doing. Tigers hunt, zebras run. Humans, well, we imagine being a tiger hunting down zebras while having a team meet-up. We're weird, ok? But that's not the point.

The point is: We should give ourselves deliberate time and space to ponder away. We crave it. If we don't, our free thoughts might take over when we least need them.

That's the reality of "an idle mind is the devil's workshop." Bad thoughts don't come to those that occasionally let their thoughts wander. They come to those who lack structure in allowing their thoughts to roam.

So, next time you need a thinking space - book 30 minutes in your schedule, take a walk or just sit, and get away from everything (except your thoughts). No music, no information, no audiobooks, no nothing. Just you and your mind. Once the clock rings a 30-minute mark, it's over. Reclaim the focus. Back to being emersed in the moment!

After a while, you might just realize an idle mind is a calm one.

#6 Mindfulness Meditation (Of course)

A woman in lotus position taking a calming brain break in her office

Speaking of being in the moment...

Just like you need a thinking pass, your mind will love being given some simplicity. And mindfulness meditation is the best way to practice being fully present, calm, and aware.

An idle mind and mindfulness meditation are at opposite ends of the spectrum, indeed. One disciplines the mind (meditation), the other breaks the chains setting it fully loose (idle mind). It's what makes these two practices a perfect combo. If you learn to juggle the two far-away states, there's a chance you'll encipher Dalai Lama's secret code.😁

If you choose to indulge in the practice, you're in for a sea of astonishing benefits proved by science. Stress reduction, anxiety relief, emotional maturing, better attention, warmer attitude, improved sleep, etc.

To experience the true benefits of meditation, finding the center of your attention is key. This does not have to be something spiritual or quantum - it could be focusing on your breath, or performing a body scan from head to toe and paying close attention to any movement or sensation in your body.

It is normal for thoughts to wander during meditation. Instead of trying to immediately return your attention to the center, try taking a pause. Don’t feel guilty about it - give yourself some time to pause and transition from whatever it was you were thinking about. Then, return back to your chosen point of focus with kind acceptance. Any thought is OK, don't judge yourself for it. Just accept it and slowly bring your attention back to the breath, sound, or body.

Starting with 5-10 minutes a day is more than fine (and doable). As you grow to like the practice, raise the time bar slowly. We promise you, your brain will learn to be stable, calm, and in ease.

The busy schedule got you all messed up? Here are the 14 quick ways to rejuvenate yourself!

How to Rejuvenate Yourself: 14 Easy Ways
At Wakeout we’re on a mission to help people have productive and joyful workdays. An essential part of achieving that is to teach you how to take just a few steps and start the day feeling creative, full of life, ready to take on challenges.
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