The Midday Reset

a few minutes of relaxation can provide daylong benefits

Anthony McMorran

Research shows you can make yourself more alert and improve your mood and cognitive functioning with a “midday reset.”

When we restart a bogged-down computer, the internal operating system works better. Putting aside five to 20 minutes around lunchtime decreases stress, and improves memory and efficiency.

With practice you will find that you only need five to 10 minutes to feel completely rested and ready to take on the afternoon. The ideal time is when you start to feel the mid-day “blahs,” a decrease in your energy or your ability to concentrate. This usually happens around eight hours after waking. Right after eating lunch often works best. Ideally, you want to enter a light sleep, but even five minutes of conscious relaxation will have a positive impact on your nervous system. If you do it around the same time every day, you will develop a physiological habit known as a “circadian rhythm” and your body will naturally go into deep rest. For best results, start consciously and deliberately.

Using a timer or alarm is very important. It gives you the confidence to completely relax, knowing that you won’t “over-rest” and miss that important meeting or be pressed for time to complete what you need to that day. Taking a break like this not only helps you feel more alert and focused for the rest of the day, I often find that I will have an “aha” moment that answers a question or solves a problem that needs my attention.

It only works if you do it! Set the time aside every day and the benefits will quickly pay off with increased productiveness and alertness in the afternoon.

Here's How!

Set an alarm or timer for five to 20 minutes – whatever your schedule allows.

Lock your door, find a quiet spot, turn your phone to silent, and mute the computer.

Sit comfortably, preferably reclining with your head supported and your legs stretched out.

Close your eyes lightly, and settle your weight into the support. Take a few deep breathes into your belly, breathing out forcefully or with a sigh. Then stop controlling the breath and just let it be.

Internally “scan” your body, consciously softening any tension that you notice. Pay particular attention to letting go of your jaw, hands, face, feet, and hips.

Don’t try to fall asleep, just continue to breathe naturally and let your weight sink into the surface you are resting on.

Let your mind wander, or just notice your breath moving in and out as you let go of the tension in your body and the concerns of the day, just for a few minutes

Get up slowly when the alarm or timer goes off.

Anthony McMorran is a massage therapist and yoga practitioner with more than 25 years experience helping people with manual therapy. He is a new resident of Eau Claire and practices at Eau Claire Myofascial Release with his wife, Katie McMorran PT.

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