I did something today that was really out of the ordinary for me and it completely transformed the rest of my day. What did I do? I actually took a lunch break. I know, crazy right? It’s not to say that I don’t normally eat lunch, but rather I did not do so today while sitting at my desk and working on my computer or fiddling around on Facebook. I disconnected from technology and took a brain break.
Brain health and achieving optimal brain performance are important topics for Emergenetics International. While our work is not about making brains better per se, we do facilitate personal growth and assist in helping a person to be his or her best self each and every day… and taking brain breaks is just another part of that. Our approach is to help people tap into their strengths through their thinking and behaving preferences. But that approach can only go so far if your brain is operating on a half empty tank of gas. By not giving yourself regular brain breaks you’re setting a pretty low bar for your own productivity and success.
As Emergenetics Associate Scott Halford points out in his book, Activate Your Brain, “The brain is the captain of who you are. It dictates every action and every behavior.” How can we expect our brains to perform at stunning velocity if we don’t take steps to protect it, or worse if we are actively abusing our brains with an 80 hour work week?
I am positive I am not the first person to tell you that you need to give yourself brain breaks every now and then. And if you follow Emergenetics International Founder Dr. Geil Browning’s column for Inc.com, then you have no doubt seen the number of brain-based articles increase in recent months.
So why am I bothering to write about brain breaks if it isn’t new information? Well, because it really did help me to feel better, more focused, more productive, and more capable throughout the rest of my day. You too can increase your own personal power and productivity by just giving your brain a little break at the middle of your day.
Allow me to appeal to your preferences:
For the Analytical Thinkers: This article in The Scientific American shares more data and information than you could ever need, and they are far and away a more credible source on this topic than I. If you don’t want to read the entire thing, here’s a few points taken directly from the article: “Beyond renewing one’s powers of concentration, downtime can in fact bulk up the muscle of attention—something that scientists have observed repeatedly in studies on meditation…. Studies comparing long-time expert meditators with novices or people who do not meditate often find that the former outperform the latter on tests of mental acuity.”
For the Structural Thinkers: I get it, your to-do list is just screaming at you. Why would you take precious time away from being able to get further ahead on your tasks? Brain breaks will actually help you to get more done and thus cross even more off your list by the end of the day. Just give yourself 15 minutes of free time and you’ll come back re-energized and ready to accomplish even more.
For the Social Thinkers: Have you ever heard the phrase “feed your soul”? Well, your lunch break brain break can do that (while also literally feeding yourself…sorry, I couldn’t resist!). This is a chance to have personal 1-on-1 time getting to know a co-worker or two, or to call your family and friends for a good chat. The point is, lunch can be a solo activity or something done with others- it’s up to whatever you prefer.
For the Conceptual Thinkers: Imagine this… you step outside of your office building to the little community park across the street. It’s a beautiful day outside, the birds are chirping, there is a slight breeze, and the sun is shining. You sit at a picnic table and open up your lunch… maybe you’re trying something new from the local food truck, or maybe it’s your favorite dish leftover from dinner the night before, or maybe it’s your famous sandwich…. I mean really, let your imagination run wild here. As you savor your meal, you think about how awesome it is to have a few quiet minutes to just sit and be without any other expectations. And after a comfortable amount of time, you head back to the office with a smile on your face feeling energized and ready to tackle the rest of your day.
Of course, the way you go about enjoying your lunch break depends on your behavioral preferences, and I would be remiss to take an Emergenetics approach to brain breaks without making a single reference to the purples (what we call the behaviors):
Those in the 1/3 of Expressiveness will enjoy the quiet alone time during their lunch break, whereas those in the 3/3 are likely to seek out the communal lunch table to catch up on the latest company news.
Those in the 3/3 of Assertiveness are more likely to tell others that they too should be taking a break, whereas those in the 1/3 might ask if others would care to join them.
Those in the 1/3 of Flexibility will need to come around to the idea of a new lunch routine, whereas those in the 3/3 are pretty much willing to try anything new.
Whatever your preferences may be, skimping on taking brain breaks will only hurt your productivity and happiness in the long run. It can only take 15 minutes to give your brain the break it deserves. You owe it to yourself!!