Go Ahead, Take a Mental Break from Workday Pressures | TechWell

Go Ahead, Take a Mental Break from Workday Pressures

I’ve always understood the phrase “stick to your knitting” to be advice to stick to what you know best and not take a chance on new, possibly risk-prone activities. But it turns out that sticking to your knitting—actual knitting, not the metaphorical kind—can have significant health benefits.

Apparently, the repetitive activity involved in knitting and other types of needlework can induce a relaxed state similar to what is achievable with meditation. So if you’re in a stress-filled, deadline-driven job, knitting may provide a worthwhile way to take a mental break from your work. Best of all, you end up with bundles of baby booties or even overalls, book covers, or hot air balloons!

Certainly, knitting is not for everyone. Some people prefer more energetic activities to take their minds off their work, such as cycling, dancing, running, or hiking. And some like competitive activities such as racquetball or squash, which are both superb activities for diverting attention from workday stresses. When a squash ball or a racquetball is ricocheting off the wall at high speed, it takes priority (at least temporarily) over project delays and priority changes.

What’s important is not the specific activity that helps distract you from your work, but that you have something that serves that purpose. It could be cooking, playing with your pets, gardening, painting, or reading. Of course, if you have kids at home, you don’t need help in distracting yourself from your daytime deadlines. (What you may need, though, is an activity to give you a break from both work and kids!)

If you have no time for away-from-work diversions, you may be able to find ways to take a brief timeout while at work—even if you think of some weird break ideas. You might consider standing on one leg, photocopying your face, or walking around the office backward. OK, maybe not. But just having the idea of doing something weird for a brief mental break can help you think of other possibilities that won’t lead the higher-ups to escort you to the door.

Whatever your choice of activity, it’s important to spend as much time standing as possible. I’ve written previously about the health risks of sitting for too long. No matter how much physical activity you get, prolonged sedentary activity (sitting, reclining, or lying down while awake) can have negative health consequences. There’s still no credible advice on how much sedentary activity is too much. Until there is, the implication is clear: Stand while knitting!

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