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We’ve Earned a Break, We Deserve Down Time


Apr. 6, 2021

I need to cure my ailment…and it’s bad… I’m a procrastinator. But I learned it may be because I need to shut down.

I’ve been reading lots of articles about taking a break…a little down time, time off.

For overall good health, routine breaks come highly recommended.

Andre Collins, PAF Executive Director

I’m not addicted to work, no way, not me! But I do have a strong sense of obligation to my daily responsibilities. As I grow, “work smarter” seems to represent a level of maturity I need to attain. The little voice in my head that keeps saying “work harder, push through” may be detrimental to my overall energy. I may think I’m being productive but eventually I’ll slow down to a snail’s pace racing side by side with fatigue.

I’ve heard someone describe taking a break as disconnecting to reconnect. We need breaks to cool our brains down, literally.

I’m not addicted to work. At least I don’t think so. But I am habituated to metrics or the different ways of measuring success. What are my percentages, my numbers…am I hitting my marks? Everything quantified, everything measured. I get it, we need to know if the job is getting done, but at what cost to the work/life balance or being allowed to enjoy the workday. For most of us, if we don’t enjoy the workday, at the end of the week we lose 5-to-2. We’re supposed to enjoy work. I love my job’s purpose. My job is creative and vigorous…but it is demanding. And even though I have freedom to create, a continual need to be creative has its own kind of pressure.

Did I miss a call?  Did I miss a text?  Who’s on my call back list …everyday.

And so now, I got my eyes on a break.

Experts say strategic breaks can be refreshing and help you see a situation in a new way.

A break isn’t going to kill me. And I won’t suddenly forget how to do my job. In the end it won’t harm me. So, what will I do?

I plan to stay up late, people watch, and exercise some.

I hate board games, puzzles, and card games. So, I won’t do that. I will read. I like to read about religion and history.

A break is a brief pause from work, physical energy, or activity. You’re resting with the full intent of getting back to work within a realistic amount of time.

Let me get scientific for a sec. I’ve learned …when you’re doing goal-oriented work that requires focus, the prefrontal cortex is responsible for keeping you focused on your goals. The prefrontal cortex is also responsible for logical thinking, critical decision-making, and willpower. The prefrontal cortex is asking for a timeout.

Decision fatigue can lead to procrastination. As players we think we are getting laser focused, but studies indicate that sustained attention to a single task hinders performance. Psychology professor Alejandro Lieras says, “deactivate and reactivate your goals. That allows you to stay focused”. Breaks keep your goals on track! Have fun, relax, laugh with friends, be entertained. Rest leads to productivity and brings back motivation.

Here are some helpful suggestions for rest that leads to motivation; walk, exercise, sit alone, nap, breath, meditate and always take the long way home

 An action like taking a break creates opportunity for productivity.

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Andre Collins
Executive Director
Professional Athletes Foundation
NFL Player 1990-1999

Gene Upshaw Player Assistance Trust Fund

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