Catch Your Breath

It’s good for you. Without intermittent periods of reflection and rest, you will never keep up with the pace of your life. Some people turn to meditation and others to daydreaming; both serve the same purpose: recharge and reorient. Perhaps more important than rest, short quiet periods in your day help you process everything. When you break from mental stimulation and general busyness, you give your brain a moment to pass your experiences and newly formed lessons to memory. Catching your breath helps you sort through the data of your life and think more clearly thereafter.

Stop, take a breath, and zone out. Right now. When you can. And never feel guilty about it.

Full Schedule, Healthy Mind

When you have nothing to do, your mind wanders. Sometimes that’s a great thing, especially if you’re in a good place in life. Other times, a wandering mind is a bad thing. When you are in a rut, you can spin yourself deeper by thinking too hard about your situation. Most individuals diagnosed with depression tend to be less active people. Simply put, inactive people have time to think about how unhappy they are.

The mind never stops, no matter who you are. So rather than sitting around spinning it aimlessly, put your mind to something. Anything. A hobby, a game, a project, a better job search, a sport. It all counts. Fill your schedule until you have no time to think. You should never be bored unless you choose to be (after all, no one can keep going without a break).

With a full schedule, you will find yourself considerably more stimulated and inspired (especially if you are able to choose your own activities). If work hours have you beat, you must take the reins of your free time and keep the party going. Don’t just come home at night and go to bed. The mind is healthier when it is free to make its own choices, so use what time you can to do things you want to do.

Happiness and health directly correlate with the amount of time you spend doing things you want to do.

The 90-Minute Rule

Coffee

90 minutes is the optimal duration for achieving certain types of immersion: social, narrative, health, entertainment, and more. Any shorter than 90 minutes, you cannot cover all the bases. Any longer, the brain may lose focus.

Generally, I set aside 90 minutes for coffee or meal get-togethers and tend to hit that mark without keeping track of time. All of the bases have been covered and the situation has turned cognitively stale. 

While being a conceptual and social theory, the 90-minute rule may be naturally linked to the circadian rhythm of our bodies (a sleep cycle lasts roughly 90 minutes, for example).

I have found the following to be most effective when conformed to a 90-minute window of time:

  • Revisiting with an old friend
  • Business meetings
  • Brainstorming sessions
  • Feature films
  • Home dining experiences
  • Concerts
  • Board games

With enough arcs and nuances to an activity, the 90-minute rule can be broken and expanded to achieve longer sustained immersion. Hikes, conventions, recreational sports, and several forms of entertainment can all present enough twists and turns to keep you invested longer than 90 minutes. The average duration of my ten favorite films, for example, is 131 minutes. Rich and fulfilling content or activities can transcend time (and your day calendar).

Can you think of any other activities that fit a 90-minute profile?