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Ohio Arts Council Executive Director Donna S. Collins and Investment Director Dia Foley

Overwhelmed in the New Year? Take a Break!

At this time of year, thanks to holiday weekends, many of my arts colleagues and I had a little time to relax, linger over beverages of choice, and read! It was wonderful. My 2018 started with several new books: When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink; Women & Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard; and Obama: An Intimate Portrait by photographer Pete Souza.

These recently released books offer many personal and professional insights. For me, the opportunity to see the world through each author’s research, study, experience, and opinions opened my mind and heart up to possibilities – what we might do, what we will never do, and what we must do! All three books are relevant to conversations happening around the water cooler or dinner table, but I particularly want to highlight Pink’s book When.

Robert Frost wrote, “The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.” So true—and yet we routinely ignore new opportunities under the guise of being busy. When speaks right to this point and can help each of us stay focused on the self-care necessary to ensure our success in 2018.

Pink talks about “the power of restorative breaks.” If you’re like me, you have a regularly updated to-do list. Pink suggests creating a complementary “break list.”

At first glance, this seemed slacker-like to me. Who plans to take breaks and do less work in an already too long day—especially in the arts?

When suggests differently. Might we work more efficiently if we take some measures to restore our health and focus? He believes we should take three breaks a day, following a prescribed method.

Your break list should have three columns: time, duration, and what you’re going to do. Pink then offers a menu of breaks: Micro, Moving, Nature, Social, and Mental Gear Shifting. Each has some redeeming qualities due to its duration, ease, or our own level of comfort. In short:

  • The micro-break is easy to do right at your desk—taking a moment to rest your eyes, hydrate with water, and stretch. (If you have a stand-up desk, this break is even easier to accommodate amid your busy day!)
  • The moving break urges us to do just that—move! Take a walk, do some basic yoga at your desk, or venture out on a “group break” with your co-workers to plank or power walk together.
  • The nature break encourages us to breathe fresh air, walk, or just find a place to sit quietly taking in the world around us. Pink says that if you can’t go outside (like those of us in Ohio suffering through a cold, snowy January!), then pretend you’re outside – viewing the world around you outside a nearby window.
  • The social break is likely the easiest for all of us in the arts. We know the power of conversation and just catching up – we call it networking and it can be done at the OAC’s Riffe Gallery or a coffee shop!
  • My friends who are yoga lovers will most certainly love the mental gear shifting break that asks us to reserve time to meditate, practice controlled breathing, and lighten up with some music or a podcast.

What do you think? I didn’t make a formal New Year’s resolution to create a break list, but I’m going to give it a try. We know from research cited by Pink that breaks provide a positive impact on our mental and physical health. Let’s imagine how these breaks have the power to add significance to the relationships we value and our collective success to work on behalf of the arts in Ohio!

Until next time,

Donna Collins' signature

Donna S. Collins
Executive Director

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