Give your brain a holiday

2017-12-20 06:00
Leave your laptop, work phone and any work-related devices at home when on holiday.PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Leave your laptop, work phone and any work-related devices at home when on holiday.PHOTO: SUPPLIED

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WHETHER you are a business owner or an employee, you’re no doubt worn down after a year of running on overdrive.

If you’re lucky enough to go away, remember that a holiday should be more than physically going away, and should include switching off and allowing your brain time to relax and recharge.

Research shows your brain and your body are not built to function at 120% all year, with no breaks. The Solutions Lab from Nashua, provides five reasons why you need to give your brain a break:

South Africans are stressed

Bloomberg studies have ranked South Africa as the second most stressed nation in the world.

Another study by Ipsos and Reuters revealed more than half of South Africa’s workforce don’t take their annual leave.

The result - high turnover, low engagement and stagnant teams.

Another “stresser” is financial worry. The 2017 Sanlam Benchmark Survey shows 73% of the middle class are stressed due to their financial situation.

Twenty percent “prefer not to think about these issues”, and 12% said they were simply not coping.

Worn down muscles 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 through the year. The holidays are the time to let the brain remove unwanted connections and reset itself for the year ahead.

Rejuvenate the body and mind

By constantly running your brain on overdrive, you reduce the ability to think creatively and strategically tackle complex problems.

An overworked stressed-out brain could lead to anxiety, digestive problems and long-term health problems that could result in you having to take sick leave.

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.

Nurture a resilient, creative brain

It can seem like your brain does all the heavy thinking when you’re hyper-focused making you more reluctant to lose the focus even on holiday.

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 strategising your business success for next year.

The Witness Business Editor.

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