Mental clarity can escape anyone.
Even Einstein, Shakespeare and Da Vinci had their moments.
It can happen to the most genius person in the room.
It’s your ability to recover that matters.
You can impact your brain function and cognitive abilities by making simple tweaks here and there to your daily routine.
Our brains and bodies are hurt by constant stress.
Under this condition, your brain sends ongoing alarm signals in the form of high levels of the stress hormones.
This raises a background level of anxiety that blocks the processing of information.
The antidote is some purposeful downtime.
If you are looking to improve your concentration to perform better at work, or simply to make this one change to your daily routine.
It only takes a few minutes to completely clear your head and restore clear and better thinking.
Schedule purposeful downtime
The best active relaxation is a short mental vacation.
Great thinkers, writers, innovators and creative people schedule breaks on purpose.
It makes perfect sense that our attention spans and concentration need to be rebooted, at several points throughout the day.
According to research, the brain gradually stops registering a sight, sound or feeling if that stimulus remains constant over time. You lose your focus and your performance on the task declines.
Studies have shown that workers are most focused and productive when following the rhythm of a work/rest ratio.
When faced with a long creative problem, it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task and improve your idea generation approach.
A structured downtime can help you do your best work.
We tend to generate redundant ideas when we don’t take regular breaks. If you’re hesitant to break away because you feel that you’re on a roll, be mindful that it might be a false impression.
Your brain needs downtime to remain industrious and generate better ideas.
Your brain needs downtime to remain creative and generate its most innovative ideas.
A growing body of evidence shows that taking regular breaks from mental tasks improves creativity and that skipping breaks can lead to stress, exhaustion, and creative block.
Idleness is not a vice, it is indispensable for making those unexpected connections in the brain you crave and necessary to getting creative work done.
If you are struggling to solve complicated problems might be better off switching to “diffuse” mode and letting their mind wander.
Take proper breaks, often. Sometimes you just need a break — a chance to reboot the system.
Take a walk. A few minutes stroll can increase blood flow to the brain, which can boost creative thought. Charles Darwin took long walks around London.
Dickens wrote his novels between the hours of 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. After that, he would go out for a long walk. He once said, “If I couldn’t walk fast and far, I should just explode and perish.”
Find time to doodle. Let your mind wander as you embrace pen and paper, again. Research shows that doodling can stimulate new ideas and help us stay focused. Make time to exercise. Exercise can give you more energy and help you gain focus. Try this 7-minute workout.
Completely clear your mind and begin again. Your next big idea depends on it.
Purposeful break resets your brain for peak performance
Studies are showing that taking time for silence restores the nervous system, helps sustain energy, and conditions our minds to be more adaptive and responsive.
It pays to go on a media fast. Turn off your email for a few hours or even a full day if you can, or try “fasting” from news, entertainment and all distractions that prevent you from taking advantage of regular breaks.
It’s only when you come to appreciate and accept the ebbs and flows of your body that you can really start to deliver maximum results.
The world is getting louder. Distractions are inevitable. But silence is still accessible if you plan for it and stick to it.
Take a break for greater concentration. All the little tasks and decisions you have to make every day as you work gradually deplete your psychological resources.
Taking a break (even for 15 to 20 minutes) is a proven way to sustain concentration and energy levels throughout the day.
Taking breaks is biologically restorative.
Daniel J. Levitin of McGill University once wrote about the importance or resetting your brain every now and then. “If you want to be more productive and creative, and to have more energy, the science dictates that you should partition your day into project periods,” says Daniel.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, there’s a reason: The processing capacity of the conscious mind is limited. This is a result of how the brain’s attentional system evolved. Our brains have two dominant modes of attention: the task-positive network and the task-negative network (they’re called networks because they comprise distributed networks of neurons, like electrical circuits within the brain).
The task-positive network is active when you’re actively engaged in a task, focused on it, and undistracted; neuroscientists have taken to calling it the central executive. The task-negative network is active when your mind is wandering; this is the daydreaming mode. These two attentional networks operate like a seesaw in the brain: when one is active the other is not.
The human brain just wasn’t built for the extended focus we ask of it these days. The good news is that there is a fix to get back on track–all you need is a brief interruption (aka a break) to get back on track.
Harvard Business Review examines another important benefit of scheduling breaks on purpose. They allow you to reset and refocus on the right things
When you work on a task continuously, it’s easy to lose focus and get lost in the weeds. In contrast, following a brief intermission, picking up where you left off forces you to take a few seconds to think globally about what you’re ultimately trying to achieve. It’s a practice that encourages us to stay mindful of our objectives…
Short breaks will reduce your stress and re-energize your up time, increasing your creativity, productivity and enthusiasm.
Breaks give you the much needed time to rest your eyes, move around, stretch your stiff muscles, get more blood and oxygen flowing to your brain, to refresh and obtain a fresh outlook on problems that need fresh perspective.
Want to lean more?
I will be launching a new course, “Thinking in Models: The Mental Frameworks, Models, and Thinking Patterns of Top Achievers,” soon. It’s designed to help you to think clearly, solve problems at multiple levels of depths, and make complex decisions with confidence. Sign up here and be the first to be notified when it launches.
Originally published at medium.com