Stressbuster Jelena: How Taking a Break Can Change Your Life

Experimental psychologist Jelena Goranovic is a programme director of Sussex Wellbeing Company and one of the organisers of Hove Stressbusters, a not-for-profit wellbeing programme which offers advice, workshops, and talks. We caught up with her and found out how something so simple as taking breaks can dramatically improve your life. 

Not taking regular breaks, and not using them properly when we do, is a massive problem in this day and age. It’s all too common for employers to allocate an hour-long break in a 12-hour shift, or for you to waste your break engaging in activities that do not relax you. It’s only made worse by technology and social media. Jelena explains: “We never have breaks in the way that we are constantly processing information and that’s where technology comes in. Scrolling through Facebook is particularly stressful, especially as people keep posting about politics in the past couple of years. It’s not allowing your brain to rest, it’s bringing in more information. It’s not allowing the body and mind to rest.”

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This is why even those who are unemployed, as well as children, are experiencing stress. “When I was a kid going to school, we went to school, we came home, and that was it. Now, there’s this constant communication which we are not protected from by being at home – we simply can’t have a chilled-out evening”

In order to solve your break-based woes and social media addiction, Jelena recommends scheduling in regular me-time and sticking to it like it’s a business meeting. Finding what exactly relaxes you, be it running or reading, is key. But so is making sure you actually find time for your relaxation; it’s all too easy to say you enjoy a hot bath or a yoga session, but you won’t de-stress unless you practice relaxation regularly.

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If getting away for more than a couple of minutes during the working day or at school is not practical for you, don’t despair! “You don’t’ have to be sitting at home on a cushion to get the most out of a break,” said Jelena. She told us a tale of an anesthesiologist who finds taking two minutes to practice mindfulness between surgeries changes his whole mood dramatically: “What he also did was take ten to fifteen minutes to himself after work before joining his family. Ten minutes is nothing, no matter how busy we are, we can all find ten minutes.”

She also says creating tech boundaries and not always being available via email or on Facebook will help you respect yourself and cause clients to respect you in turn. She said: “I think a lot of business owners struggle with this because they feel they have to always be available to clients. But if you don’t respect yourself, how are you going to expect people to respect you?”

You can either set an out of office reply or an email signature telling clients you’ll only take emails between certain times.

If you’d like more of Jelena’s words of wisdom, she will be giving a talk on creating a great first impression and overcoming nerves when networking on 22 February. The event, organised by the Healthy Business Hub, aims to help you create and maintain rapport with clients.

For more information on the Healthy Business Hub event, click here.

To find out more about Hove Stressbusters, click here.

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