Vacation should be mandatory. The human brain can only stay sharp for so long until it needs recharging, and humans can’t be expected to perform at their highest potential without periodic breaks.
According to the US Department of Transport’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the FAA, truck drivers and airline pilots must take 30-minute breaks at least every 8 hours. While most business executives are not in danger of crashing a vehicle if they make a wrong decision, the impact of a poor decision can nonetheless be devastating.
So go ahead and book that trip or take off for a weekend adventure. If you can’t just now, the good news is there are also cheap, easy things that can be done to rest our weary minds on a more regular basis.
1. Start with the body. In spite of how we may feel after a long week at the computer, our brains are attached to the rest of our bodies. Wake up the body with exercise, and you will send freshly oxygenated blood to the brain, like opening a window to let in some fresh air. A brisk walk down the hall or around the building can rejuvenate if you don’t have time for a full workout.
2. Drink. We always give kids and pets rest breaks and regular nourishment, but most adults are regularly dehydrated. The Mayo Clinic warns that letting our fluid intake fall below fluid loss during strenuous exercise or over time can lead to problems ranging from mild to severe. Heat injury, heatstroke, swelling of the brain (cerebral edema) and kidney failure are a few examples.
3. Go for the new. There is nothing more stifling to creativity than routine. Try taking a different route to work, ask a colleague to brainstorm a problem with you, or take 3 minutes to read about a subject you’ve never explored before. Then tackle that sticky problem. Notice if your perspective has changed.
Go ahead. Give your brain a mini-vacation, enjoy the trip, and let me know if your effectiveness soars.
Sheri Kennedy presents Painting Positive Change: Using visual art to navigate creative transitions at Mindcamp 2013.