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Taking a Break

Note: I’m posting a little early because I’m headed to Ireland shortly and will be going offline during my vacation.

I recently saw a commercial for Cheetos, those lurid orange cheese-flavored curls, with the tagline, “Take a break with Cheetos.” It reminded me of another commercial and jingle: “Give me a break, give me a break/ Break me off a piece of that Kit-Kat bar.”

And it got me thinking. If I want to take a break, do I really want or need to take it with Cheetos or Kit-Kats? For that matter, do I need to take a break with any kind of food?

It made me realize how prevalent the association is between eating and taking a break in our society. For instance, at work, the only designated down time we get is for lunch, and even though it’s an hour, it seems that most people only pause long enough to eat. Which is why a few years ago it struck me when one of my co-workers would spend about half his break on lunch, and the other half reading. At work. He was perfectly entitled to the time, but it seemed like a bizarre concept because no one else did that.

Similarly, we have “break rooms,” but I don’t know how often people go into them for something other than food, especially since sometimes those rooms don’t have anything except snacks to recommend them.

For me, I know part of the difficulty is the constant feeling that I should be doing something. I blame this on my inherited Puritan work ethic, particularly prevalent on my mom’s side of the family, where the concept of just doing something for relaxation is a bit hard to put into practice. And if I’m eating, even if it may not be productive, at least it’s keeping my hands occupied.

But when I stop to think about it, I can come up with many other ways to take a break that don’t involve food. Read. Go for a walk. Stretch. Play with a pet. Listen to a favorite song. Meditate. Watch a favorite movie or TV show. These days, at least I’m more inclined to do one of these rather than eat simply for the sake of eating, but it’s still a strong association.

These are just some of my ideas for taking a break, but I’m sure others could add to the list. Sometimes this might involve food, but at least if you think about different options, it becomes your decision, not just an automatic response to fill the time, and you can also then choose to truly enjoy the food or whatever else best satisfies your desire for a break.

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