In one of my former lives, I was a Professional Ballerina. Yes, really. I worked six days a week, 10 hours (or more) a day, striving for the kind of perfection that can only be achieved by perseverance, tenacity, and sheer-willed stamina. When I just couldn’t seem to “get it right,” I would try, over and over again, aiming to make it better. What I got instead, was more and more tired, and harder and harder on myself for still not having it right. You know what the definition of insanity is, right? The old, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Eventually, the Director would sense the group’s frustration and fatigue and would suggest we “take ten,” and then get back to it refreshed and ready to try again. I would grab some water, a couple of bites of an energy bar, and share in the laughter and company of my colleagues to ease the stress.  After even just ten minutes away, tensions had melted a few degrees. Tempers had subdued. There was a lightness that made the solution more clear. “Right” seemed achievable, instead of insurmountable.

Getting absorbed in a project, or “on a roll,” is a great place to be in. All cylinders are firing, the words are practically writing themselves, and the ideas are flowing. When this is not happening, the tendency is just to keep going, and going, and going, until it “happens.” Doing the same thing over and over can lead to fatigue and frustration. Walk away, take a 10, and come back to it with fresh eyes.

Here are some 10’s to try when you get stuck:

  1.  Breathe: Just a couple of deep breaths can ease tension and bring clarity. In and out. Focus on the sensation.
  2. Drink water: Dehydration is not our friend. Grumpiness happens when we have not had enough water, so fill up a big glass of water and hydrate.
  3. Eat a light snack: Low blood sugar can cause fuzzy thinking and irritability. It can be a banana, a handful of almonds, or something else light and simple. Keep it nutritious and delicious.
  4. Get your blood pumping: Do 10 pushups, situps, or jumping jacks. Shake it up.
  5. Read for pleasure: Pick up a magazine or Instagram, and enjoy the beautiful images and anecdotes.
  6. Get outside: Take a short walk around the block, or sit on your porch and listen to the wind rustling through the trees.
  7. Clean up: I find that doing the dishes, sweeping, or vacuuming always clears my head.
  8. Snuggle up: With your mate, your dog, your pillow. Get that oxytocin flowing.
  9. Have a dance break: Crank up your favorite music and dance as full out as you can.
  10. Meditate: Just started doing this myself again. Get back to center. There are some great meditations from Nestmaven you can check out here to get a better night’s sleep.
If ten doesn’t feel like quite enough, go ahead and take twenty minutes. Listen to your body, practice self-care, and realize that sometimes the best way to get something done, is to take a break from it.