Take a break

Take time off, hug a tree or head to the seaside to enjoy your own version of a holiday – your brain needs a break.


Your brain and your body need a break and with British summertime upon us it’s time to look forward to a change form the everyday routines we’ve experienced in dealing with the global pandemic.Many of my own friends and family are exhausted, lacking in energy and low mood due to the monotonous existence we’ve had to endure – whether that’s been working from home, being a key worker, home schooling, being furloughed, being made redundant, worrying about the future, being unwell, losing a family member, having to cancel precious plans. 


The last 100 or so days have been extremely hard on us all. So please give yourself permission to take a break.


Nuffield Health, the UK’s largest healthcare charity conducted a study and discovered there are striking effects of not going on holiday. They discovered those who didn’t go away for a break had higher blood pressure, didn’t sleep as well and had higher levels of stress. It’s not surprising that holidays help us de-stress, because we tend to do things that give us pleasure and distract our mind away from the challenges we are all facing with Covid.


Scientists from the Icahn School of Medicine, University of California and Harvard found that just six days away  from our usual routine can trigger genetic changes which dampens stress, boosts the immune system and lowers levels of proteins linked to dementia and depression. If you’re feeling low, perhaps a little bit of travel and break from every day covid-ness will provide temporary respite and help your brain and mental health.


So the science and the research backs up what I’m suggesting. Be kind to yourself, take time off and even if it’s just little things like having ice cream in the park, fish tea by the sea or going hill-walking for a day, schedule in pleasure and break from the routine. It can be one day or one week, your brain will feel refreshed from the change of routine.


Schedule time off Book time off from your job or WFT set up and step away from the laptop, in fact don’t even go near your work station. Put your out of office on and record a voicemail on your mobile explaining that you are off work for the time being. Don’t be tempted to have a quick look at emails on your phone – you’ll regret it later.


Staycation Take time off – even a long weekend, mid week break or a fortnight, whatever works for you. It looks like holiday-ing at home will be hugely popular – the uncertainty around covid, quarantine restrictions, wearing masks and also the cost of holidays mean that many of us might just be taking a few days of here and there to do a long weekend, city break or trip to the coast. Whatever you decide to do – book it in advance, its good to have something to look forward to.


Get off devices FOMO is not a thing anymore.Be in the moment, forget about what other people are doing or not doing. Be mindful, be present and enjoy what you are doing, there and then. Manage time on apps, and when on holiday aim to cut your phone usage by more than 50%. Your eyes, brain and wrists will thank you for it.


Hug a tree Since we’ve been unable to have contact with friends and family and with social distancing in place, maybe the next best bet is to hug a tree. Iceland’s forestry service is encouraging citizens to hug trees for five minutes a day to help them during isolation.  It may seem like a strange practice but research suggests it could help people feel better. We also know that nature is great for our mental health, so make the most of the green spaces around you. Hugging a tree increases levels of hormone oxytocin and this hormone is responsible for feeling calm and emotional bonding. When hugging a tree, the hormones serotonin and dopamine make you feel happier. Try it. 


Spark joy Holidays are the best time to throw out the rules, do what you really want to do, enjoy doing something or enjoy doing nothing.Sleep late, have breakfast in bed, eat pizza, order take-away, have a glass of wine with lunch, lie in the sun and read a book, go fishing, play golf or tennis or go swimming the sea – do things that will spark joy. Having fun needn’t cost lots of money, here are 50 free things to do in the UK

And if you want to send us a post card, please do, you can send it to: 
Team Noggin

Noggin The Brain People Ltd

.64a Cumberland Street

Edinburgh

EH3 6RE

Dr Clara Russell