Another year has come and gone in what seems like the blink of an eye. Even though its gone fast, it has been a long year with high pressure problem-solving, planning and rushing from one obligation to the next. Whether you’re a business owner or an employee, you’re no doubt worn down after a year running on overdrive.
If you’re lucky enough to go away this December, remember that taking a holiday should be more than physically going away, and should include switching off and allowing your brain the time to relax and recharge.
While the overachievers and passion pushers may scoff at the idea – research proves that your brain and your body are not built to function at 120% all year with no breaks.
Here are 5 reasons you need give your brain a break now:
1. South Africans are stressed
Bloomberg studies have ranked South Africa as the second most stressed nation in the world. Another global study by Ipsos and Reuters revealed that more than half of South Africa’s workforce don’t take their annual leave. The result: high turnover, low engagement and stagnant teams.
Another constant stressor is financial worry. The 2017 Sanlam Benchmark Survey shows that 73% of South Africa’s middle class is stressed due to their financial situation. While 20% indicated that they “prefer not to think about these issues” and 12% said they are simply not coping.
2. A worn down muscle won’t work
Neuroscientists say you should treat your brain like a muscle – with rest and exercise. Like any muscle, a stressed out, overworked brain will wear down. Stress makes it harder to concentrate and more difficult to feel satisfied and consistently engaged in your work
Ever feel like your brain is full? That’s because your brain builds connections when you learn new things and it needs to prune unnecessary information to make room for more connections. Scientists call this pathway-efficiency and it happens when you sleep.
Chances are, you haven’t been sleeping enough to rest the brain throughout the year. The holidays are the time to let the brain remove unwanted connections and reset itself for the year ahead.
Resting your thinking matter will boost productivity, sharpen memory and foster happiness, which will ultimately inspire creativity and problem-solving abilities.
On the flip side, continuing light exercise while on leave will strengthen the connections forming in the brain. Stimulate yourself intellectually with activates unrelated to work. Whether doing crossword puzzles or a cooking class, constantly seek recreational information to ponder.
3. Rejuvenate the body and mind
By constantly running your brain into overdrive, you reduce the ability to think creatively and strategically tackle complex problems. Business success hinges on your ability to do both.
An overworked stressed-out brain could lead to anxiety, digestive problems and long-term health problems which could result in you needing to take sick leave.
Neuroscientists have found our bodies benefit from resting our grey matter and our brains gain from exercising our bodies.
4. Concentrate on one thing at a time
The human brain isn’t wired to perform two tasks at once, let alone three or four. Forcing yourself to switch between tasks fatigues the frontal lobe, slowing its efficiency and performance. Technology can be a culprit here. Leave your laptop, work phone and any work-related devices at home.
5. Nurture a resilient, creative brain
It can seem like your brain does all the heavy thinking when you’re hyperfocused, making you more reluctant to lose the focus even on holiday. The latest brain research shows that daydreaming activates different parts of the brain, allowing your creativity and problem-solving abilities to thrive.
A rested brain is still hard at work processing information and resolving challenges without you knowing. With all the time to daydream and rest, you could be solving problems, developing breakthrough solutions and strategizing your business success for next year.
The difficult paradox that doing less, allows you to do more is true. Plus, you deserve it and so do your loved ones. Importantly, your business success for the coming year depends on it.