Giving Your Mind a Rest

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To be at our best, whether looking for a position or working in a demanding job, we need to take breaks from time to time. Recent research has lent support to this piece of common sense wisdom. Taking breaks rejuvenates our mind, gives it the space it needs for creativity.

The problem is that during a busy day it’s not always easy to take these kinds of breaks. Business analyst Matthew May offers a few suggestions on what you can do to grab some quick down time to reenergize your mind.

One thing to do to help your brain is practicing a little meditation during the day. Research has actually shown that people who meditate have more gray matter in certain areas of their brain and have stronger connections between different areas in the brain. Moreover, meditation also seems to delay age-related brain atrophy. So, as benign as meditation may seem, some researchers believe it to be a powerful mental exercise.

If you take a train or some other public transportation to work, you can grab a little meditation time during your commute. All it takes is about 10 minutes. Close your eyes and imagine a relaxing image – a forest, waterfall or mountain. Focus on the image, and if other thoughts begin to intrude, push them away.

Another practice to keep your mind sharp is called pulsing. Pulsing is simply the practice of working for a set period of time, usually 90 minutes, and then taking a five-minute break, regardless of where you are at or what you are doing. It is called pulsing because that is the action it is intended to mimic – a pulse of work, followed by a rest. It is the way we are designed to work.

Another way to keep the mind alert is actually by daydreaming. Research has shown that people who daydream score higher on tests of creativity. This is just the opposite of meditation – instead of emptying your mind of thoughts, you allow random thoughts to flow through your mind. You really can think about anything you want. It might just give rise to an epiphany.

It was through daydreaming that Arthur Fry, a 3M employee, came up with the idea for the Post-It Note. He got the idea while he was daydreaming in church.

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A career in construction administration and management can be (and for me has been) one of constant transition. It’s rather common that employment with a given company starts and finishes with each successive project; you’re a new hire as it’s just getting “out of the ground,” then finished and looking for a new project (and Read More…

Greg Wangler, Pentagon Construction Management Division

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