All work and no play makes Prof Hacker a dull prof. And you don’t have to wait until the semester ends, either. Indeed, even short high-quality breaks have been shown to increase productivity and creativity. So, here are some suggestions from the ProfHacker archives on how, when, and why to take a break.
Get Some Physical Activity
As guest author Meagan Timney notes in her oft-cited Nurturing the Mind-Body Connection, “physical exercise increases brain function,” “exercise increases serotonin and dopamine production in the brain,” and “physical activity is fun.” Even a short break for a walk around your campus or neighborhood can loosen up your muscles and your mind so that you can return to your desk refreshed.
Erin wrote about the ways that walking her dog has helped her be more active:
It is plenty easy for me to put off exercise even though I know that I feel better and I sleep better when I am active. But it is much more difficult for me to put off a walk when I know that the dog needs the exercise too.
Even a gentle qi gong exercise can help get your energy flowing.
Take Care of Yourself
Take a nap. Jason reports that 10 minute naps are apparently an optimal duration.
Drink some green tea. Billie emphasizes the ritualistic aspects of preparing tea as well as the tea itself:
In the midst of a hectic and crazed day, a few moments of taking care of yourself can be calming.
Spend some time with your significant other. Nels recommends a weekly Date Night uncompromised by errands or distractions.
Take a Break from Productivity
As Nels said, Don’t Let Productivity Stress You Out:
If you find yourself reading a post on Prof. Hacker and starting to worry about how you could fit that perspective, pedagogical technique, or technology tool into you life, it might be best to move to another post. If you find an idea that really appeals to you but that you can’t see implementing at this point in your career, bookmark that entry and come back to it later.
What’s your favorite way to take a break? Let us know in the comments!
[Creative Commons licensed image from flickr user pauldineen]