making breaks more mindful
A side effect of the pandemic I didn’t expect was how hard it is to not have designated transition times. We used to have built in commutes, walks to class, in-person after school activities and meetings. It takes extra work now to signify the end of one thing and the start of another making a lot of life a blur right now.
During the Q&A portion of a talk I gave recently, a student asked: “How can I take a break?” The question struck me as incredibly important now that our lives are so digital. It reminded me of the tattoo story because what we connect to on our “off time” has become vital now that the pull of our devices is stronger than ever.
In full transparency, I haven’t researched how long a break should be or what the best activity is. I feel that’s super personal to who you are and what your body needs at any given time, but my mentor tip is a little different anyway. It’s to ask yourself this one question:
What or with whom am I sharing my energy with?
This question is really important to me because of an experience I had during my Master’s program. I took an art therapy workshop where we were randomly paired and taught a breathing exercise that included staring into our partner’s eyes for 20 minutes (so awkward!) then while my partner continued the breathing, I went to the art station and painted whatever I wanted. After I was done, we switched and my partner had to make an exact replica of my artwork.
When we finished, my partner told me I painted his tattoo which was wild because I’d never seen it before. It was covered by his t-shirt. This experience blew my mind and made me realize how connected we all are.
So what does this have to do with taking a break?
You may have heard the saying: “You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” which is attributed to motivational speaker Jim Rohns. I don’t know how valid that statement is as I’ve not done experiments on it, but I do believe who you share your energy with is vitally important to your overall happiness. It means to become aware of who you are sharing your energy with during the times in your day you take a break. If your class ends and you just pick up your phone and scroll social, who is it that you’re sharing your energy with?
Some reflection questions:
- Who are the five people you spend the most time with?
- Who are the five people you chat with the most?
- Who are the five people you watch or follow the most on social?
- What are the five podcasts you listen to the most?
- What are the five activities you do the most?
Are these people/things you want to share your precious energy with? Do you want to be picking up on their energy? To use this in real life, when you’re about to take a break ask yourself:
Who or what do I want to share my energy with?
When I ask myself this question it helps me to positively filter my break. I always want to spend my energy or share it with something that’s recharging so maybe being in nature or moving my body.
I make sure if I’m doing a workout it’s with an instructor I want to be sharing my energy with.
If I’m on social or listening to a podcast, I follow things that are inspiring and additive.
If I’m talking to a friend I want to talk to someone who I’m okay with picking up their energy because there’s a transference.
Who’s energy do you want to be a part of? What do you want to pick up on? Make sure it’s positive energy and it feels good to you. This will make your break feel additive.
A few more basic mentor tips for living, schooling, and working in the digital realm:
- Take a break outside of the room that you were doing all of your stuff in. Whether you walk into a different room or get outside, changing scenery for even a brief amount of time, can be helpful.
- Make sure your breaks aren’t always focused around snacks or eating. You want to make sure you’re eating because you’re hungry and not only because you need a break.
- My suggestion for a mindful break would be to use an inner practice and make a break a ritual for yourself. Maybe you meditate as a break or you journal right at the end of your school work day in order to ritualize your move into your personal life.
The important step here is to remember to ask yourself the question: who/what do I want to share my energy with? Wishing you a great week ahead!