take a breather = take a short break from one's activities in order to relax.
Friday, 1 April 2011
New research suggests that simply taking a breather for self-reflection could be the key to finding work-life balance.
The Canadian study examined three ways people commonly cope with the stresses of balancing schedules - focusing on the problems, venting to others, or distracting themselves altogether.
Surprisingly, the subjects who "ran away from their problems," at least temporarily, showed less stress because they took a break to replenish their drained resources, the researchers reported. The most stressed subjects? The problem-focused group. Analyzing their stresses just added more stress and exhaustion to their overworked lives.
The subjects who managed the best were those who took time for self-reflection, asking themselves direct questions about how they felt about their lives. "People need to ask themselves, 'What roles do I play?' and 'Are these roles working for me?,'" said researcher and University of Toronto psychology professor Julie McCarthy, in a statement. "And if they're not working, we then need to ask, 'What are the strategies I'm using to make things better?'"
Writing in a journal is a good way to explore your feelings on how you're coping in your own life. "People need to assess which strategies they're using to cope with their problems and make sure they're making time for resource recovery," McCarthy added. "Too many roles can be detrimental unless we begin asking ourselves honest, pointed questions."
The US-based Mayo Clinic also recommends the following strategies for learning how to strike a work-life balance:
Track your time. By tracking everything you do for one week, you can truthfully examine how you spend your time, and know which activities you can cut or delegate to others.
Learn to say no. Extra project at work? Child's teacher need a favor? You can respectfully say no when your plate is too full.
Leave work at work. Make a conscious decision to disconnect from the technology that keeps you mentally tied to work.
Increase your support system. Enlist the aid of friends and family, and at work join forces with coworkers who can cover for you, and vice versa, when a family conflict arises.
Nurture yourself. Eat healthy foods, exercise, and get enough sleep. Take time every day for an activity you enjoy, such as going for a walk, reading, or yoga.