I can’t count the number of times I have taken a break from work by sitting in front of a screen. Whether it’s reading an article, checking social media, or watching a video, I almost never come back to my work feeling recharged. As a professional in the wellness industry, I should know better, but even with the knowledge I have it can be hard to implement screen breaks.
This past weekend, I went camping with my Arkansas family to Devil’s Den— where there is no cell service. A forced digital detox. As a new business owner, this is slightly terrifying. I would also argue that it’s necessary. For several days, I left my phone untouched (aside from grabbing it to capture this gorgeous moonlight) and ignored my day to day work. I thought it would be stressful, and that I would feel like I had lost ground. Instead, I came back feeling excited and filled with new ideas!
More and more research is backing up the claim that meditation, mindfulness, and practicing presence can greatly benefit the work you do. Toss in some mindful movement (aka yoga) and you’ve got yourself a recipe for increased productivity.
I’m a firm believer in making these things fit into whatever your life looks like. For me, I have two small children and a new business, so I have a large bag of tricks for wedging yoga and meditation into my day in small doses. Here are three quick ways to bring presence back into your day. The next time you pick up your phone to check Facebook for a break, try one of these instead.
1. Listening Break
Close your eyes and be still. You can sit, stand, lie down, whatever works. Just be still and use good posture if you're upright. Then bring your focus to the sounds around you, without attaching judgement to them. It's almost like making a list. Car horn. Birds. Wind. Etc. Let this observation keep rolling for as long as you care to make time for it. You can do it for 30 seconds or 10 minutes. When you're ready, take a deep breath and open your eyes.
2. Count Your Breath
If you have 2 minutes, this is a great one-- especially if you're stressed! Again, be still in whatever fashion suits you. Start by taking a deep breath in and out. Then begin to count your breath-- four counts in, four counts out. Do a few rounds of this. One breath at a time, add a count to your exhales. Inhale four, exhale five. Inhale four, exhale six. Go on until you go to eight on the exhales and then continue for as long as you care to. End with a big breath in and out.
3. Focus on Your Goals
Otherwise known as visualization. Start with stillness in your body, and then think about one task or goal that you would really like to accomplish. Picture how it would feel to do this. Hold that feeling as you breathe deeply. This is a good one if you only have a few moments throughout the day to take a break like this. You can practice this one for five seconds at a time, or five minutes at a time.
The fourth quarter can be a very busy time of year both professionally and personally. Even when you know taking a mental break would be a good idea, it often feels counterproductive to stop working. Keep at it. Enjoy your usual break time routine, but try tossing a moment of presence in here or there.