I finally got it all done. I looked at my to-do list, and every item was crossed through. I should have been proud. I should have felt accomplished. Instead, I felt a little let down. The best word to describe my sentiment is underwhelmed.
On top of that my head hurt, and my body ached. I felt like I had been working for months. I worked straight through my summer break. I woke up working. I went to sleep working. While I should have felt gratified as I gazed at all of the check marks next to all of the items on my list, I felt a little empty.
I felt like, now what? I felt like, so what? I felt like, for what?
It was about that moment that I realized that my to-do list had a bunch of things on there that did not really matter all that much. It contained emails to read, lessons to write, problems to solve, followers to engage, likes to return, blog stuff to get done. I left off my husband, my children, and my real friends. So here I was all done with nothing of any lasting value – absolutely worn out with nothing left to give.
To myself, I thought, “I could really use a break.” Immediately, my mind began to race with the thoughts of all the training I recently led, all of the lessons I delivered over the years. I remembered that people can only work so much before their brains stop concentrating. They stop focusing. They get lost in the details. Their brains need a break.
Along that line of thinking, I confirmed that, “Tomorrow, I will make sure that I interrupt my agenda for a few mandatory brain breaks.”
I have by no means perfected these breaks. I started small, but I thought I would share ways to integrate brain breaks when life is 14 to-do items past busy.
- Write it down.
Let it all out. While that specific day did not have things that mattered in the big picture, I had spent huge portions of the previous days pouring myself into my family. I traveled from Memphis to Detroit, from Detroit to Gulf Shores, from Gulf Shores to New Orleans where I spent a grand total of 1 night in my bed before traveling back to Detroit, from Detroit to Knoxville, and from Knoxville finally back home until further notice. When I was not working, I was giving every bit of myself to my family and my friends. There was no time left for me to breath so I would take 10 minutes, when I could, and just write. I wrote it all. I put everything on the table. I highly recommend the same for you. Write it all out! And when you are done, close the book, leave it there and walk away. You can come back later if needed.
- Lose yourself in the moment.
Listen to your favorite song. Sing at the top of your lungs. Turn on your favorite podcast, or YouTube preacher. Paint a photo. Draw a picture. Create something. Find a space in time, even if it is only 10 minutes, where it is just you and your thoughts, you and your feelings, and let them out. And when the moment is over, walk away. You can come back later if needed.
- Soak in Vitamin D.
Take a walk outside. Breath in the fresh air. Let the sun soak into your skin. Feel the breeze as it runs through your hair. You need natural light. You need energy that only nature can provide. That cannot be duplicated. That cannot be replicated. It is what it is. If you only have ten minutes, then take ten minutes. Marinate in the much needed vitamin D. Take it all in. And when your time is up, walk away. You can come back later if needed.
With your children if you have them. With your friends. With your husband. With your family. Laugh until you cry. Separate a space for just play. Set aside an area – a minute or two or three – designated for silliness only, for goofiness only, for imagination only. In this area, anything goes. McDonalds happy meals can become chef hats.
Car pools become comedy relief. Wine nights and date nights allow you the absolute freedom to be you. And when the night is over, when you step out of the carpool to put on your show for work, when you have eaten your make believe chicken nuggets crafted from legos and train tracks, walk away. You can come back later if needed.
- Pray (period).
As I began to implement these brain breaks, I found that though the workload had not lessened I was not nearly as tired. I began to change some of my to-dos to to-don’ts. I listened to the advice of wiser women told me to spend less time doing and more time being. (I highly recommend watch the video. Truly amazing!!)
And when I went back to being overwhelmed, being too busy, when I fought back tears of frustration or sadness, I took a brain break. I began to note the triggers for when I was spending too much time doing and not enough time being.
I noticed that the highlights of my life were the times when I was being – my 37th birthday weekend with my husband, the time I celebrated with my son after I was all in, a victory dance with my athlete when she qualified for state after a tough season.
So when life becomes too full of busy, walk away. To breath, to regroup, to gain a better perspective, to prioritize, to re-energize, to be…just be. To remember what really matters in life.
And go back to doing only if needed.
What are some ways that you take a brain break from busy?
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