Sunday, January 3, 2010
Help Yourself Take a Break
By then, 77 year-old Franklin was, among other things, a famous inventor. As someone who thrilled at solving scientific problems, he was happy to applaud the Frenchman who had figured out how to soar over treetops in a hot-air balloon. Franklin created several practical items (including the lightning rod and a more fuel-efficient stove) that continue to help people, even today. Never formally trained in science or engineering, he got the ideas for his inventions just by looking around him and keeping his senses awake. He made the most of his abilities by balancing a love of adventure with his duties as a businessman and statesman.
Balancing adventure and responsibility can help you, as well. Adding even a few daily minutes of Me Time -- an activity ou love that's not on your To Do List -- can give you a chance to re-group. Result? You'll retunr to that To Do list with a sharper mind.
In the online newsletter, Health.com, cardiologist Marianne Legato summed it up this way: "If you never have any time except reactive time -- things you must do for others -- you don't have a sencse of control. You are interrupted all the time. Your brain has trouble resting, even during sleep." Studies have shown that if you're always on red alert to put out the the next fire, eventually, you may increase your risk of long-term illness, including diabetes, heart disease and memory problems.
Your mind and body don't just want to play, they need to! They benefit from both types of get-away time: vacation and breaks.
A 2005 study by the Families and Work Institute showed that 83% of employees felt more relaxed and 74% felt more energized when they returned from vacation. (unfortunately, 43% of vacation-takers also returned to their jobs feeling overwhelmed by piled-up work. The study's author's recommended that employers help employees get the most from their vacations by tapping other workers to keep up with some of the vacationers' tasks while they're away.)
Like vacations, daily work breaks are also important refreshers. getting a massage next Saturday will be good for your mood and your body, but spending the two minutes today to make the masage appointment also has psychological benefits. It reminds you of who you are and what you like to do. Inserting small breaks into a busy day -- reading one chapter of your current page-turner, playing a round of solitaire or even sweeping the front stoop -- refreshes you and improves your work. "If you shift your focus [to some thing you want to do], you go back to the other areas of life with more energy," says Ellen Gallinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute. "You're less stressed, more satidfied with life in general."
Benjamin Franklin knew the value of combining hard work with diversion. When the opportunity arose, he made time to enjoy a fine meal, and interesting conversation or the chance to watch a man sail skyward in a basket under a balloon. He lived to be 84. Take a tip from Ben, and take a break!