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Don’t forget to breathe Ed Biagiotti | Fri, Jul 14 2017 12:05 AM

“If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit.” – Banksy

Learning when to take a break is essential to living a happy and successful life. This is true no matter what type of endeavor we find ourselves involved with. While giving up too soon can lead to missed opportunity, going on too long can lead to mistakes that could be avoided by walking away at the right time. The good news is that by paying attention to our feelings, and tuning into what we need to stay fresh and productive, we can learn when to carry on and when to put things down.

Working with children teaches us much about the necessity of built-in break times. The children need to have nutritious snacks and get exercise at regular intervals or they will not be able to learn effectively. When planning an activity we must also know how much time to spend explaining, and how much time should be allotted for free exploration of the subject matter. Once again, the objective is to get the most out of our students during the time we are together. This is most easily accomplished by respecting the ebb and flow of energy that is natural in life.

Like our students, we all need to take breaks to eat, rest our minds, and move our bodies, if we wish to be successful and happy. While hard work and determination are valued as the keys to success, too much of these will lead to burn out and exhaustion. They will also lead to resentment and loss of inspiration if not balanced out with breaks that revive us and reignite our enthusiasm.

This week, while teaching summer school, I noticed that I was feeling tired. I was having difficulty mustering up the energy to encourage my students. At mid-morning circle, during our normally seated quiet time, I encouraged everyone to lay on the ground and listen to the soothing music I had put on. Slowly, but surely, everyone, including my staff, found a spot on the carpet to recharge. I said a few encouraging words as the music played on and we let our minds wander. After several minutes had passed I put on an upbeat song and we returned to our seats to get on with the day.

What struck me was how much better I felt when I got in the chair to lead the lesson. With half the effort I had been exerting before our break, I was able to lead the class through the planned activities. In just a few minutes, my spark had been rekindled and I was good to go for the rest of the day. My students seemed equally energized. They were more cooperative, and efficient in completing the assigned work. What a relief! If you are used to pushing yourself to get to the finish line, consider putting some breaks into your schedule.  Rather than lose precious time, you will magnify the value of the time that you spend working and interacting with the people around you. There will be less conflicts born out of fatigue and hunger. No matter what you are doing, and what your job is, I believe you can find three minutes to refresh your mind, body, and spirit. As you practice this simple act of self-care, you will begin to see that time expands and the effort more than pays off.

Edward Biagiotti is the Inclusion Specialist for Culver City Unified School District.  He is also co-host of the popular radio show, Funniest Thing! with Darrell and Ed, to find out more go to www.DarrellandEd.com or send an email to: EdwardBiagiotti@ccusd.org




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