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Is It Time For You To Take A Self-Care Break? Here Is How To Know

By Anika Nayak

Krista-Lynn Landolfi is a multi-certified master coach who has practiced for over 30 years. As a mindfulness-based stress reduction instructor (MBSR), she regularly coaches clients on mindfulness, meditation, and other relaxation strategies. She believes that self-care is the key to success. 

Life can get busy, and it’s easy to forget about taking time for ourselves. We spoke to Krista-Lynn about the importance of taking self-care breaks throughout the day to rest our body and mind. If you have unanswered questions about how to take time for self-care or what to do to relax during a break, we hope you find this interview helpful. 

Healthified: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today. Why do you think it’s important to carve out time for self-care throughout our day?

Krista-Lynn Landolfi: When life is all work and no play we tune out and shut down, or worse, we burnout or break down. Taking self-care breaks throughout the workday is imperative for our health and well-being, the healing benefits include better concentration and productivity, less stress, more relaxation, and a greater sense of fulfillment. Stopping work hourly for a stretch or deep breathing break to rest your eyes (and mind) will refocus and energize you, and you may notice the workday goes by faster. The added bonus of hourly self-care breaks is a boost in self-worth because honoring your needs shows you love and value yourself; and we all know bosses sometimes don’t give us that pat on the back we deserve.

Healthified: What exercises do you recommend during a break to refocus, calm down, and rest our brain?

Krista-Lynn Landolfi: Next time you’re feeling a mid-afternoon slump or catch yourself rereading the same sentence for the umpteenth time, turn on some music, get up and dance! Dancing is a great form of exercise that stretches our body, loosening our hips, which bear the brunt of sitting all day, and gets our energy flowing. Singing along while dancing is a great way to clear your mind. Dancing increases your heart rate and stimulates your brain, which will lift the fog and quickly refocus you.

When you’re having a hard time focusing on the task at hand there’s a good chance your brain is experiencing information overload and needs a break. Meditation is a fantastic way to quiet your mind and it also helps ‘recharge’ it, by taking away the pressure to think, or remember, your brain can calm and reboot. Even simply pausing what you’re doing and taking several slow, deep breaths will calm your mind, lower your blood pressure, and relax your body and mind.

Step way from your screens and go outside. Fresh air stimulates our senses and encourages us to breathe more deeply. Time in nature rejuvenates us, watch clouds float by and leaves rustling on trees, listen to birds chirping and the wind sing, unplug from work and your worries and let Mother Nature show you some love.

Walk for 30-minutes: one of the best pieces of advice I ever received, via Dr. Oz on the Oprah Winfrey show, is to walk 30-minutes a day, every day, no matter what, which benefits both our physical and mental health. While ingesting caffeine or sugar can give you a quick surge in energy, it ultimately leads to a crash and can leave you feeling more tired than you’d been. A brisk walk will help you clear your mind so you can concentrate better, and it will energize your body and wake you up.

Healthified: Tell us about your Take 5 to Thrive strategy. How does it help individuals to remember to take a break?

Krista-Lynn Landolfi: Take 5 to Thrive is a phrase I teach my coaching clients to help them remember to take hourly breaks throughout the day to simply breathe and check in with themselves. When you Take 5 to Thrive, you’re affirming that you are important and your needs matter; it’s a great way to cultivate a friendship with yourself. While humans tend to think a lot, we don’t often ask ourselves pointed questions, like, “How are you doing?” or “What do you need, right now”, take five and tune in to see how you can best support yourself. Many of us are shallow breathers who hold our breath when we are stressed, which creates more stress, taking ‘breath breaks’ throughout the day helps balance your energy, it’s soothing to body and mind. Since a body in motion tends to stay in motion, I set alarms on my phone twice hourly to remind me to take a break; I encourage you to do the same.

Healthified: How can individuals remember to take a break amidst their busy schedules?

Krista-Lynn Landolfi: Time management is an issue I’ve seen in at least eighty percent of my coaching clients, if not most of them! Becoming more mindful about how you spend your time helps you invest it more wisely; scheduling hourly breaks gives you time to assess your productivity. Having helped thousands of people make better use of their time I’ve seen two methodologies work best: one is pausing twice hourly for a “Take 5 to Thrive” five minute break, typically at the 25 minute mark, and a few longer 20-30 minute breaks throughout the workday; the second is working in 90-minute increments with a thirty minute break once completed. Vast studies from NASA to Harvard have proven these time management practices help people be their most productive and maintain consistent energy and focus while working.

Healthified: When should one take a self-care break?

Krista-Lynn Landolfi: If you’re paying attention your body will tell you when it needs a break. Your mind will shutdown making it hard to focus, same with your eyes, your back, neck, shoulders or all of the above will start to ache from too much time spent sitting down, hunched over a screen –pay attention to these cues from your body and give it the break it needs. Before it breaks down on you! Oftentimes, when we catch a cold or flu, we see in retrospect our body was trying to warn us to better care for it, i.e., sleep more, reduce stress, or eat better; we get sick when we don’t honor our body’s needs. If you lay down for a 20- minute nap and sleep 2-hours give yourself a pat on the back for providing the self-care you obviously needed; if your boss complains remind them there’s a global pandemic and none of us are doing it perfectly, right now. And that’s okay!

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