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Why taking brain breaks is important for creativity

Written by Chris Griffiths on Monday, 18 May 2020. Posted in Wellbeing, People

Your brain is like any other muscle in your body - it needs to take rests in order for it to be able to perform to its full potential.

Why taking brain breaks is important for creativity

Your brain is like any other muscle in your body - it needs to take rests in order for it to be able to perform to its full potential. Taking breaks on the surface seems like a fairly straightforward concept, but it’s something that can all-too-easily fall by the wayside.

With the coronavirus pandemic forcing the majority of businesses to adapt to remote working where possible, teams around the globe are currently adjusting to their new working from home routines. During a pandemic of this scale, employees are likely to be feeling a mixture of uncertainty and anxiety as they learn how to navigate these new waters - which can ultimately have a detrimental effect on not only their mental health but their creativity, too.

With this in mind, it’s important that teams and individuals don’t become overwhelmed with their workload. Here’s why taking brain breaks is important for maintaining your creativity during these unprecedented times.

It boosts your productivity

Putting time aside for regular, but brief mental breaks actually helps you to become more productive, especially when faced with a particularly long task or a big piece of work. As human beings, we’re not designed to sit and focus on the same thing for hours on end. When running on a continuous high speed, your productivity is likely to take a dip during this time. In order to be as successful and productive as possible, you need to conduct your work in a series of sprints. By mixing up your tasks with regular breaks, you will be able to tackle each task with a consistent burst of energy and motivation every time.

Taking breaks also allows you to step back from a particular challenge or problem. When we try to focus for too long, our imaginations naturally tend to lock down, causing us to experience a ‘mental block’ which makes it more difficult for us to generate creative solutions. By taking a step back, you’re giving yourself a chance to clear your mind and see the bigger picture.

It gives you time to incubate ideas

This leads us nicely into the power of incubation. Incubating your ideas is essentially allowing your subconscious mind to mull over and explore any new knowledge you’ve gained - and this can only be achieved by taking a well-earned break. By allowing yourself time to do this, your unconscious mind will be coming up with new and creative solutions to any challenges you’re faced with - which are then likely to float to the surface when you come back to your work. 

Although you may not have considered this before, we actually incubate our ideas every day. Think about the times you come up with your best ideas; it’s usually when you’re out for a walk, having a shower, or are in any other situation where you’re ‘switched off’. Studies have shown that we solve most of our more complex problems while we’re in this relaxed daydream-like state. So, remember that ideas can’t be forced. If you’re struggling to maintain your focus, take this time to step away and clear your mind so that you can approach your work with a fresh perspective.

It helps you avoid burnout

Not only is taking breaks important for allowing your mind time to generate creative ideas, but it’s also vital in helping you avoid burnout.

While working from home during the current pandemic, employees may be feeling an added pressure to work extra hours or to avoid taking breaks altogether in a bid to show that they are working efficiently. This is where trust in your employees becomes vital. If you trust your employees to do a good job and to meet their deadlines, you will encourage your teams to establish a much healthier working environment while they’re at home. Make it clear to your team that it’s okay, and also encouraged, to take breaks. By establishing this level of trust and understanding between you and your employees, you will ensure that you get the best out of each and every member of your team. 

Under normal office circumstances, you would naturally get up from your desk to make a coffee, or stop for a quick chat with a co-worker. When working from home, it can be all-too-easy to shut these breaks out altogether - making it more imperative than ever that you make yourself step away from your screen. Even if it’s to stretch your legs for 5 minutes in your garden, taking these brief step backs intermittently throughout the day will help to keep you motivated and your energy levels high.

It encourages healthier habits

Without taking breaks, you’re likely to experience stress, which over time can become severely detrimental to your health if not addressed. Taking breaks allows you to maintain a healthy lifestyle in all aspects of your life, such as making time for nutritious meals, exercise and plenty of sleep. When your mind is clear from intense feelings of pressure and stress, you’re more likely to be in a better headspace to establish these healthier life choices. Over time, these lifestyle choices will help to boost your creativity and motivation, so you can come up with new ideas and creative solutions.

So, while you’re adjusting to your new working from home routine, be sure to factor in time for these all-important brain breaks. Taking short periods of time out in between your tasks will not only keep you energised and motivated to work to the best of your ability, but it gives your brain the chance to develop and nurture your creative ideas and form innovative solutions that you can implement each day.

About the Author

Chris Griffiths

Chris Griffiths

Chris Griffiths has over 28 years’ experience setting up and leading successful businesses that have ranked in the ‘Deloitte European Fast 50’ and ‘The Sunday Times Fast-track 100’. He is the CEO of OpenGenius and the developer of Ayoa.com, a platform used by top thinkers to boost productivity, allowing users to create, communicate and innovate all in one place.

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