You Can Take a Break (Down Time for Engineers and Runners)

When a runner enters the mindset of racing season, they spend a large amount of time clocking miles, focusing on proper eating, performing strength training, and stretching.  This causes stress on their body and mind.  Due to this, runners need to schedule a rest and recovery period, a break, into their training schedule.  This gives their body time to recover and repair muscles, which will encourage fewer injuries and can improve their success in achieving a Personal Record (PR) or goal.  For the runner’s brain, a break allows for reduced stress, since most runners are type A personalities and feel anxiety over the slightest deviation in their training and preparation routine.

Engineers in the workforce, have times they are immersed in a project and forget everything that is happening around them. In the world of strict deadlines and having quotas to achieve, we tend to ignore the fact that our minds and bodies need a break.  It has become part of our nature to sit in front of our computers for hours, not leaving our desk even for lunch.  Engineers show up to work early, stay after hours, and bring work home; the brain is placed under large amounts of pressure causing us to lose focus, become forgetful, frustrated, and depressed. In the end, we are burnt out due to this high amount of stress and anxiety in our lives.

Is this actually helping your work performance?  NO!

So how do you become more efficient, focused, and happy?  We take our break to recharge our minds.  To get the most out of a break, you will need to mentally disengage from the work at hand.  For some engineers this is difficult to do, but here are some suggestions that can lead you back to a productive path:

  • Get outside and go for a 15 minute walk.  Going outside has been proven to alleviate mental fatigue by relaxing and restoring the mind.
  • Read or watch something that will make you laugh, giving you a positive sensation.
  • Find a place away from your desk and let your mind wander. This allows your creative side to generate new ideas to help with problem solving.
  • Try to learn something new, which will help you feel confident.
  • Help a colleague out.  This gives you a feeling of social connectedness, resulting in a comforting and positive feeling.

So remember it is okay to take regular breaks, which will benefit our max performance, and rejuvenate us so we are able to achieve that next big goal.

Words of Wisdom:  Write down at least three positive things each day. This will help you focus on the good in each day over the negative.

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Author: Natalie Grace Keyser

I am a dedicated Quality/Technology Manager, driven Metallurgical Engineer, Supporter of Future Professional. My professional personality shows in my running, where I will not back down from a challenge or slow down before the finish line is reached.

3 thoughts on “You Can Take a Break (Down Time for Engineers and Runners)”

  1. Great post Grace. I have a hard time taking breaks because for some reason I think that I cant spare the 15 minutes…which is insane. I need to start forcing myself to not eat at my desk while working and step outside for a breath.


    1. Thanks for your comment Amber. I feel this topic is important because a few months ago I realized, I am get focused on work project and would just forget to break or take my lunch completely. Now, I have alerts set on my computer to remind me I need a break and I am so much happier.


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