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You are probably used to being told how important it is to take a break. It’s hard to ignore when there are so many psychological studies and articles on the matter. It’s all well and good reading an article and thinking “yeah I should do that!”, but if you don’t actually do it then it’s not much use. We get that sometimes when you’re snowed under with work, it’s easy to forget, but it’s important to make time for yourself.

Why are breaks important?

At the most basic level, breaks are important so we have time to refocus our minds. Try to think of it in the same way as a physical workout. You wouldn’t expect a footballer to play a whole ninety-minute game without a half time break. So why do we expect ourselves to be able to work effectively for long periods of time? Taking breaks has a whole wealth of benefits including:

  • Increasing creativity. How many times have you been stuck on a task, then gone away and done something else and suddenly the answer comes to you?
  •  Boosting productivity and motivation. Think how much happier and more relaxed you are after having time to unwind and just not think about work for a while.
  • Preventing ‘decision fatigue’. There are some really interesting studies on how the mind gets tired and this can lead to simplistic decision making and procrastination. You can check it out here!
  • Consolidating memory and improving learning. Scientists reckon that sleep helps consolidate our memory, and taking “waking rest” can also have the same effect.

 

What can happen if you don’t take breaks?

Not only does taking breaks have many benefits; not taking breaks can actually have adverse effects on your health. Constant sitting can have physical effects such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity. It can also have a negative effect on your mental health, as it can cause depression. You may find a range of other less serious problems such as:

  • It can strain your eyes. 
  • You might find that you’re more irritable and anxious. This can take many forms (both physical and mental) like being less patient, feeling less creative, and having less energy.
  •  It is counterproductive for time management. You may think that by working solidly all the time, you’re getting loads done. When in actual fact, you’re burning yourself out, and the quality of your work is suffering.
  • You will struggle to be creative. Just think how much harder it is for your brain just come up with new ideas when it’s tired!

 

How can I get more out of my breaks?

Just sitting at your desk eating lunch does not count as a proper break, unfortunately. Neither does sitting scrolling through social media on your phone. You should make sure that you’re getting up and physically moving. Just a 5-minute walk about break every hour can dramatically improve your health. You should also make sure you’re stepping away from technology. Put your phone down, shut your laptop. Replying to messages can wait 10 minutes!

Here are some things to try:

  • Take a break every 52 minutes. Again, compare it to exercise, and think of it as short sprints instead of one long marathon.
  • Head outside! Here at Raw Space we are lucky enough to be on Gloucester Road, one of the most exciting places for food, shops, and street art in Bristol. Why not pop into one of the charity shops a few doors down and see if you can find a bargain? If you want leafy green places then St Andrews park is just a 10-minute walk away. On top of this, we have a rooftop seating area if you don’t fancy going too far.
  • Have a change of scenery. If it’s a rainy day and you don’t want to be outside, there are still loads of different spaces to try at Raw Space. Why not take a seat on the sofa or a bean bag? You could just chat in the kitchen.
  • Eat, drink and be merry! As we mentioned before, there are so many great food options that you should definitely take advantage of. Try and make sure you are eating healthy things that are going to give you the right fuel for the day. We are lucky enough to have a great selection of teas, and a professional coffee machine, so be sure to take advantage of this too!
  • Exercise your eyes. Try looking outside and taking it in turns to focus on things 20 meters away, then back to close up things. You could also try holding your finger at arms length and bringing it in to your nose whilst focusing on your fingertip.
  • Meditate, you don’t even need to go and sit cross-legged on the floor! There are loads of great videos on YouTube to help guide you.

 

Where are good places to go on my break?

There are loads of really good places nearby that you can walk to quickly on your break. If you want some food then Eat a Pitta, La Ruca and Suncraft are all close by, delicious AND have vegan options. If you want something a little less healthy then Parsons is amazing and very reasonably priced. There are also some amazing greengrocers up the road where you can get fresh fruit and veg for a great price.

If you fancy a walk then St Andrews Park is close by and offers a welcome break in beautiful leafy green surroundings. Stokes Croft also has some great street art. Why not take the time to wander down the road and spot some? There is even Banksy’s ‘Mild Mild West’ by Hamilton House.

If you fancy doing a bit of shopping then you’re in the right place! Gloucester Road is the longest street of independent shopping in Europe, so this is a nice change from the big corporations in Cabot Circus. You can find some absolutely fantastic bits in the charity shops. There are some amazing boutique clothing and interior stores. Just down the road, there is also Oriental Market, an awesome Asian supermarket selling all kinds of exciting food.

We hope these tips helped you out. At Raw Space we want to encourage everyone to take regular breaks and look after yourself. Please do let us know if you have any other favourite break spots!