The Importance of Breaks

By Brenda Bethman

If, like me, you work on a campus that follows a semester schedule and also doesn’t have a fall break in October, you likely are currently dealing with zombie students, faculty, and staff. And not because of Halloween, but because at this point in the semester, those of us who didn’t get a mid-semester break are (to put it mildly) exhausted. It’s the time of fall when I start fantasizing about excuses I could use to cancel class (I don’t use them, but I do wish I could some days), when said classes are sparsely attended and the students there lethargic, when faculty and staff have shorter fuses, and when it feels as if Thanksgiving will NEVER get here.

It’s also the time of year that reminds me that taking breaks and practicing self care are just as important as work (and maybe even more so) as it’s the breaks and care that allow us to do the work in the first place. We’ve still got three weeks until Thanksgiving and the longer break that I am craving, though, so in the meantime I’m finding ways, some utilizing technology and some tech-free, to help me take mini breaks. Here are the ways I’m coping at the moment:

  • BreakTime (Mac and iOS): BreakTime is one of my all-time favorite apps. Its use is simple — set a timer that tells you to take a break at pre-determined intervals. To help make the break happen, the app will freeze your computer or phone for the duration of the break so that you can’t ignore the reminder and continue to work. If you have trouble remembering to take breaks, this app is a great way to force yourself to do so. (Windows users can download Breaker, which is a similar app).
  • Exercise (or just move): I traveled a bit more than usual in September and October, which wreaked havoc with my exercise routine — and I am feeling it. For November and December, I am recommitting to spending time in the gym or outdoors as getting exercise and/or fresh air in my day definitely helps with my energy levels. A midday workout or walk is a great way for me to get through the afternoon slump.
  • Take a break from technology: Recently I found that being on Twitter felt more draining than useful, so I drastically scaled back my use of Twitter (to the point where I’m essentially not using it at the moment). Lately, I’ve been thinking about doing the same with Facebook and other social media as it seems that using social media is more stressful than fun at the moment.

What about you? How do you survive “Zombie season” on your campus? Share your tips in the comments!

The Importance of Breaks

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