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Take a break that gives you the nourishment you need

WEB DESIGN

Published: 

When was the last time you really relaxed…? Chances are, it wasn’t during the workday. When you have a lot on your plate, and when work is creatively engrossing, it’s easy to fall into the habit of powering through—spending the whole day in ‘work mode’, without taking the time to check in other needs.

AUTHOR

Renae Turner

Co-founder @ Pixel Together


Wednesday 11th August 2021

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Especially when you’re a freelancer, it can be hard to justify downtime to yourself, but breaking up the day has innumerable benefits. A good break leaves you feeling replenished—and doomscrolling while eating a sandwich at your desk doesn’t count.
 
Instead, a break should work out the kinks in your back you get from sitting like a pretzel, loosening any stress you’ve been carrying around. It should focus your attention on the world around you, taking you out of your head for a while so that your thoughts can gently simmer.
 
While there are plenty of apps around that remind you to take a break, a quick body scan can help you check in with yourself before you start to flag. It’s all about taking the time to nurture yourself throughout the day, so that when you come back to your desk, you’re feeling rested, revived, and creatively restored.

Image Credit: Sierra Dungan

'Pop in your earbuds and put on some whale song for the full ‘90s spa treatment’ experience, or simply focus on your breathing for ten or fifteen minutes'

If your eyes are feeling tired, sore, or itchy

Screen fatigue’, or ‘digital eyestrain’, is the feeling of visual lethargy that comes from pushing pixels around for too long. The condition, known officially as asthenopia, can trigger headaches and even nausea, so as well as following the 20-20-20 rule, make some time in your day to give your eyes a rest.

 

Lie down somewhere comfortable and close your eyes, allowing all the muscles in your face, neck, and shoulders to relax. A weighted sleep mask, which works similarly to Chinese acupressure, can help relieve muscle tension around the eyes—but a folded-up warm face washer works too.

 

Pop in your earbuds and put on some whale song for the full ‘90s spa treatment’ experience, or simply focus on your breathing for ten or fifteen minutes—you can always set a timer if you’re worried about falling asleep.

If you notice yourself getting wiggly, then it’s time for a break—one that gives your body a chance to move and stretch. If you’re feeling stiff or your mobility is limited, then ten minutes of very gentle yoga might be all you need. Use gravity to slowly deepen the Child’s Pose, and focus on your breathing for a while.
 
If, on the other hand, you feel as though you need to shake yourself awake, then a quick dance break will often do the job. Or take a brisk walk and do an inventory of neighbourhood plant life, noting the way the seasons change the landscape over time.

If you’re shifting position every few minutes

'Take a brisk walk and do an inventory of neighbourhood plant life, noting the way the seasons change the landscape over time.'

A lot of the fine motor work associated with creative careers can add up, over time, to issues like carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis. If you’re beginning to get distracted by twinges of discomfort, take it as a cue to pay attention to your hands.
 
Fifteen minutes of hand massage a day can help overcome the soreness, so put ‘massage time’ into your calendar, move away from the keyboard, and work through a simple hand-massage regime.

If your hand, arm, and shoulders are starting to hurt

Image Credit: Bekir Dönmez

If you’re feeling grumpy or beginning to get woozy

Get up and make your way to the fridge! It’s amazing how quickly 2pm comes around, and many of us forget to have a proper breakfast before opening our laptops, let alone take time to prepare a balanced and nutritious meal.

 

When you’re working from home, it’s tempting to just eat a sandwich at your desk, but it can be nice to turn your lunch into a proper break: sit at the table, open a magazine, and turn on

Coffitivity

so that you can pretend you’re in a café. Resist the temptation to pick up your phone, and focus on your food, and the ambiance, instead.

'Focus on simple pleasures, the small things you can accomplish that leave you feeling good'

If you’re unexpectedly anxious, weepy, or overwhelmed

This is the big one, and given the world right now, a completely unsurprising reaction to stress. If you feel big emotions begin to swell, it’s likely a sign that these smaller breaks still aren’t giving you quite enough. Now is the time to take the afternoon off, or see if you can finagle a few days away from work. Your desk will still be there when you’re ready to come back.
 
In the meantime, focus on simple pleasures, the small things you can accomplish that leave you feeling good. Call your mum for a chat; dig in the garden; snuggling up in bed with a comfort watch; or spending the afternoon curled up on the couch with a favourite novel and a pot of tea.
 
Whatever you do, make sure it works for you—because taking care of yourself should never feel like a chore. A bit of relaxation is a necessity, and not an indulgence—so maybe it’s time to stop reading this article and go and have a bath.

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AUTHOR

Published: 

Wednesday 11th August 2021

Co-founder @ Pixel Together

Renae Turner

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