We're not incentivized to take mental breaks.
We're typically rewarded for higher productivity. So we hustle longer, work harder, and rest less. We think it'll make us more successful. We're then confused when we hit a roadblock in a project or struggle to solve problems. Frustration piles on as we continue to have mistakes in judgment, weaker execution, and lower creativity.
Here's the truth: Taking mental breaks and slowing down in the short-term makes you effective long-term. And not all breaks are equally effective.
Let's explore how to take a proper mental break from work and return even more productive.
Creativity Opens the Door for Rejuvenation
When do you get your best ideas?
Odds are, you don't typically get them at work. You're more likely to be creative when you disengage from solving problems. For instance, the creator of the polio vaccine, Jonas Silk, had a breakthrough while visiting a Franciscan monastery in the Italian countryside.
Take inventory of when you've had creative ideas—perhaps you were working out, daydreaming, or taking a bath. Notice how that "eureka moment" is exhilarating and recharging.
Neurosurgeon Roger Sperry's research sheds light on how this works.
Thanks to his experiments, we know that the left and right hemispheres of the brain are responsible for different functions. The left hemisphere is more logical, while the right is more creative. And more importantly, his work shows us that disengaging from analytical thought and activating our creative side gives us a powerful form of recovery.
By taking breaks and activating our creativity, we can come back to work with more mental energy.
The #1 Key To Activating Creativity: Don't Try To Succeed
For our purposes, being creative isn't a competitive sport. Stop trying to "succeed" with it.
The goal is to enjoy the process of taking action, to create something from nothing, and to have fun. It's okay if your finished product isn't perfect or doesn't meet other people's standards. That's not our aim.
This is hard for some of us to internalize, especially if you're left-brain dominant. Your analytical side doesn't want you to color outside of the lines or make a mess. It just wants results. And if you try too hard to be creative, it becomes a soul-sucking process and stops you from mentally relaxing.
But if you can tap into the creative flow, you'll be able to come back to work with more mental energy. You'll receive new solutions, innovative ideas, and be able to see things from different perspectives.
And perhaps, you'll have your own eureka moment.
Right-brain thinking is the most effective way to unwind from work.
You'll find that your mental breaks are far more energizing. It will unlock your creativity and allow you to come back to work refreshed. The key is to find activities you enjoy for the sake of it. Let your mind go where it wants to go and follow your curiosity. What will you create?
Want to learn more about how to skillfully manage your energy? Check out our article: 4 Signs You Are a High Performer at Work.