Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Kids need recess - Grownups too!

The New York Times article today provides evidence that children who have more than 15 minutes of recess behaved better in the classroom than those with less recess time. It allows children to rest their brain's "directed attention" and thus be able to return refreshed to tasks that require directed attention.

I'm sure this applies to grownups, as well. We need to get outside, play a little, allow our brains some rest from constant focus, constant attention, constant work. When we do take a walk or do some exercise, play with our pets or kids, or simply sit outdoors, we're resting a very important part of our brain. Just as sufficient sleep allows our bodies to function optimally, so too does a break from focused "directed attention" allow our brains to function optimally. It reduces mental fatigue and permits a renewed concentration.

While this study proves the efficacy of getting out into nature and/or playing for children, I've known it for a while. When I'm tired, I get outside. There's only so long I can spend writing or talking to people about their work issues or personal issues. Sometimes I just need to be what I call a "vegetable" - just sit without reading or watching TV. I do it best in a bubble bath or sitting and petting one of my cats. I love holding a cat and petting it, putting my ear close to its warm furry body and hearing that wonderful purr. It just calms me down and refreshes me. Playing with the neighbors' dogs also works wonders for my spirit. I feel more alive and able to get back to something that requires my focused attention - a puzzle, a book, a blog post.

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