In my work I am coming across a lot of work and/or study related stress. I hear of the long hours that they may be putting in over and above their contracted hours, coming into work on their day off to cover staff shortages and even of missing meal breaks. And I recognised an earlier version of myself in their stories…many times I did an early hospital shift to come back in and cover the night shift. At another time, I worked two part time nursing jobs with a one year old child whilst studying for an MSc. Missing breaks and meals was more usual than unusual.
In trying to be the best nurse I could be each shift, I was working extremely hard without proper breaks…does that sound familiar to you? Actually research shows that taking regular breaks and eating regular meals is essential to being more productive. Creativity is allowed space to flourish in a mind not focused on the next item on the to-do-list. Breaks also mean that you are mentally and physically more resilient to stressful situations. Procrastination also tends to pop up when we are very busy-treat it as a sign that you need to take a break and you will return invigorated. Taking a break can take many forms…try taking it away from the desk for maximum benefits to you and your work. For instance go for a small walk, step outside for a few moments, do some stretches, practice Mindfulness, a meditation and/or breathing exercises, chat with others socially…only by looking after yourself well can you benefit others.