Give Your Brain a Time-Out

Your mind is busy turning over the tasks you need to complete for a series of looming deadlines. This train of thought skips ahead to the colleague you’re mentoring and then on to the department you manage. You volunteered to run bingo night at your child’s school, which pushes its way to the forefront of your mind. There’s the family outing you’ve been looking forward to, as well. You make a mental note to carve out time for the gym because you recognize that a little ‘me-time’ is important. There’s work. There’s play. There’s personal fulfillment. There’s family time. You feel it, don’t you? Just reading that list, you feel the tension spread across your shoulders. Take a deep breath and let’s add just one more thing to your to-do list: quiet time.

Why do we need quiet time?

Good question. With all the noise of business, family, friends, and activity, it’s important to find quiet time to reflect. Your brain needs a break. In fact, there’s a plethora of research that indicates giving our brains time off is an integral part of processing information, managing stress and problem solving.

What is quiet time?

Let’s be clear, quiet time is not the same as ‘me-time’ in the same way a square is not a rectangle. If your me-time equates to taking a watercolor painting class, journaling, or karate chopping your frustrations out in the dojo, that’s not quiet time. Those are all valuable uses of your time and should certainly have a place in your life, but it’s not the brain-break we’re talking about here. If, however, your me-time is about yoga, meditation, bubble baths, or sitting on the beach staring out at the ocean, you’re on the right track. Quiet time is about resting and letting your brain do its own thing for a bit. Relax. Daydream. Let go.

What comes of quiet time?

Raise your hand if you’ve ever experienced a great “Eureka!” moment while taking a shower or as you sat in mind numbing-traffic. I bet you have. Daydreaming or subconscious mind wandering lets our brain work through challenges unencumbered. When we quiet ourselves, letting things slip out of focus, our brains also recharge so that we can focus more clearly when we’re ready to engage again. A brain that’s given a break also yields better memory. Next time you’re trying to commit a speech or new information to memory, give yourself time to disengage.