For the past week, I have been on holiday. My favourite times during the week were the quiet 15 minutes or half hours that I had to enjoy a cup of tea or a cold drink with my husband. This is something we do not get to do at home. I realized that I do not do this with friends or colleagues either. After these short breaks, I felt so energized that I realized that taking breaks would be a good habit to cultivate, not just for myself and my family but also for the youth and the families that I work with.
As with all positive habits that I help people to develop, sometimes the best help is not advice but example. I have been thinking that I could take breaks during the day with the youth in the programs that I work in. There are some natural times when this is possible: first thing in the morning, just after school finishes and occasionally in the evening when I work late.
With this in mind, I have done some research on what makes a good break – a break that energizes and promotes peace of mind. What I learned can work with teens on an inpatient unit or in a school program, but families can also use this guidance to plan pleasant mealtimes or breaks together at home. For example, perfect times for family breaks might be first thing on a weekend morning or just before bed during the week.
These are some of the guidelines I found on how to have a good break:
- No electronics.
- Gentle music or a short poem or story can be restful.
- Foster a positive tone.
- Stay in the moment – this helps children and youth to learn mindfulness.
When I remember what it feels like when I am taking a break, I can feel my hands circling a warm cup of tea. My mind empties of all worries and my breathing slows. The tension leaves my body and my muscles beginning to relax. It is easier to be mindful, to be in the present without the cares of the day or the anxiety about tomorrow pressing me.
Don’t we all need some of this time during the day?