The necessity of recess
I never really thought about this until I was well out of grade school. Every day we would get a PE period AND a recess, one in the morning and the other each afternoon like clockwork. What took me years to discover was that there was a science to these rest breaks. They always occurred in between those core subjects. Concentrate on math then take a 25 minute break. Another hour of science; take a lunch. Social studies and then recess time. Finish up with English and you’re headed for the bus. Those rest periods gave you the ability to relax, have fun and cleanse your mind for the next subject. I’m telling you it is brilliant and it should be part of your daily routine today.
See if this typical day sounds familiar. You arrive at work having already had a full morning just getting there. You immediately launch into your day quickly and seemingly effortlessly grinding out the work that lies before you. Lunch time comes and you decide to be “smart” and eat while continuing to work. Before you know it your shift is done and you head home, taking some small project with you. As you pull up the drive you notice the flower beds need attention as does the lawn and that section of gutter along the side looks bad. All projects for the weekend you hope to get in around the kids sporting events. You’re through with dinner before you realize you didn’t listen to any of the talk during it. You were focused solely on the project you brought home for the evening. The kids play, the TV blares and you are oblivious to it all until the familiar voice of the nightly news anchor breaks through. You save your work and begin getting ready for bed. You’ll repeat this five times and then comes the weekend which is packed with projects, chores, events and church. All of the sudden it’s Sunday evening and you realize that in 12 hours you are about to repeat the above yet again. And I ask you where the recess was?
If you were nodding as you read the above consider this. I’m working toward a goal right now that my reward for achieving it is a new motorcycle. I know the make and model I want, even have three different colors picked out. Now it won’t be a brand new one because brand new Indian motorcycles are expensive! In looking around I’ve found several that fit my desires to a tee. One in particular is 10 years old and has less than 5,000 miles. Think about that for a second. The owner paid a hefty price for the bike and has ridden it less than 500 miles a year. They bought it and didn’t take a regularly scheduled recess.
Folks there is a hefty price to be paid for not taking a recess. Your stress level will only continue to rise until you take recess seriously. Your work-life balance will be forever out of whack until you make this change. Try the following for a week and if it doesn’t lower stress and bring balance then you’ve lost one of the 3,744 weeks you have on average to use on this earth.
- Find an audio book you want to read but haven’t had the time to. Most local libraries have a wide selection available. Listen to it during your commutes. This will give your mind a rest between all the work required to get everyone out of the house and what awaits you at work. Don’t worry about needing to listen to the traffic reports. Traffic always sucks in your area.
- If you have any ability to structure your work, handle the most difficult task first then take a ten minute break and launch into the rest of your day. If you don’t have that ability hit it hard but set a timer on your phone for 15 minutes past the halfway mark between arrival and lunch. When the chime goes off stop what you are doing and go walk around for 10 minutes. Why 15 minutes past the halfway point, because your mind will treat that remaining time like it is much more precious. It will work subconsciously through what must be done in those few remaining minutes before lunch while you are up walking. Upon your return your mind will burn through those tasks more efficiently. Get away from the task at hand for 10 minutes and you’ll find you are able to return re energized and able to accomplish more in the remaining time before lunch.
- Leave your work space for lunch. If it’s nice out, take a walk; raining go sit in the car and listen to a couple of more chapters from your audio book. Get away for as long as you can. Again, it refreshes your mind and allows it to focus better upon your return. How many times have I struggled with a project; squirrelling away, trying ever crazier things to fix it, only to walk away for a moment let my brain rest and return to see the solution right away. I’m telling you it works every time.
- If you have the ability to structure your work make the time immediately after lunch your second hardest project. If not set another alarm but this time for an hour and 15 minutes before your scheduled departure time. The reason is the same. Upon your return, your brain knows that you have only just over one hour remaining. It will go into hyper drive to sort through the minutia and find what must be accomplished. Thus maximizing those precious remaining minutes.
- Listen to your book during your commute home. Let your mind change gears and focus on what awaits you at home. Again, traffic always sucks and it’s the same 10 songs as yesterday. Leave the radio off.
- Allocate your evening time evenly between family, chores, spouse and self. You may not be able to get all of them in a single evening but make that portion not accomplished the priority the next night. There is nothing wrong with doubling up or combining two. Have everyone pull weeds one evening so that Saturday afternoon is open for a family outing. If you are regularly pressed for time; spend it all on your family and spouse. I have yet to meet a young person professionally because their parents spent too much quality time with them, same with a spouse…
- Do the same for the weekend. Plan out the days and mandate that there is time to relax and recharge as a family, a couple and for you. The you part is extremely important. Find a hobby or an activity that you do because it brings you pleasure. Make time to go chase a white ball around, inherit the wind, take up woodworking etc.
Seven tips for seven days. Try it and see if it doesn’t lighten your stress load and rebalance your life. If you struggle putting these into practice then contact me Thomas.firstname.lastname@example.org and I will help you modify them.