Break State or Breakdown? How to Use Fun and Playful Techniques to Manage Your Emotions
During the lockdown, my days were a blur of work, online classes, and household chores. By mid-afternoon, I often felt drained and uninspired.
But then I thought of the big trampoline we had outside. I suggested to my daughter that we take a pause from our work and head outside to play on the trampoline.
We bounced and giggled. I felt a weight lift off my shoulders and my spirits lift.
After that, I started using the trampoline every day to make myself feel better.
Not only did the exercise feel good, but the act of jumping and playing reminded me to let go of my worries and connect with my inner child. It was a simple but powerful way to recharge and stay motivated.
Taking time off our normal routine and having a blast can really make a difference in our mood and productivity.
So, if you’re feeling stuck or in need of a pick-me-up, try doing something fun and lighthearted.
What is a break state?
When someone ‘breaks state’, they are suddenly interrupting their current state, and moving into a different one.
Typically, a break state is used to pull someone out of an un-resourceful state into a neutral one. So that they are more easily able to do what is required to achieve their outcome.
Also used in Neuro-Linguistic Programming as a test, for example, when using the NLP techniques of anchoring.
When you’ve put someone into a state of confidence, for example, and anchored the state, you break the state of confidence so that you can test the trigger.
The Science Behind Breaking State
Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of breaking state and the science behind it. We’ve consulted with some of the top researchers in the field, and they’ve got some fascinating insights to share.
The role of neuroplasticity in breaking state As the brainiac Michael Merzenich says, “Neuroplasticity is the brain’s lifelong ability to reorganise itself based on our experiences.”
So, when we break state, we’re actually creating new neural pathways in our brains.
According to Norman Doidge, author of “The Brain That Changes Itself,” “Breaking a habit, or an addiction, requires the creation of a new brain circuitry.”
That’s right – breaking state can actually rewire our brains and help us create new positive habits.
As Lisa Feldman Barrett, a leading expert on emotion and the brain, notes, “Your brain creates your emotions based on your perceptions, interpretations, and expectations.”
So, when we break state, we’re actually changing our perceptions and interpretations of the world.
This can lead to a shift in our mood and behaviour. As Susan David, a psychologist and author, puts it, “We can’t always choose our emotions, but we can choose what we do next.”
So, the next time you’re feeling stuck in a negative state, remember that you have the power to break free and choose a more positive path.
The connection between breaking state and cognitive flexibility Ellen Bialystok, a cognitive scientist and author, explains that “Bilingualism is an experience that alters the mind and brain.”
But it’s not just bilingualism that can improve cognitive flexibility – breaking state can also have a similar effect.
As Art Kramer, a neuroscientist and researcher, notes, “It’s clear that engaging in novel and challenging activities can improve cognitive function.”
So, the next time you want to boost your mental agility, try breaking state with a new activity or challenge.
Breaking state is not just some woo-woo concept – it’s backed by genuine science and research. So, the next time you need to shift your mood or behaviour, remember that you have the power to rewire your brain and create new positive habits.
As Alvaro Pascual-Leone, a neurologist and researcher, puts it, “The brain is the organ of change.” So, break state – your brain (and your mood) will thank you!
Techniques for Breaking State
Now that we know the science behind breaking state, let’s dive into some fun and effective techniques for actually doing it.
Humour: How laughter can change our state of mind.
As the comedian Charlie Chaplin once said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” And he wasn’t wrong!
We have shown humour and laughter to have a powerful effect on our mood and state of mind.
When we laugh, our brains release feel-good chemicals like endorphins and dopamine, which can help us shift out of a negative state.
So, the next time you’re feeling down, try watching a funny video or telling a joke. Laughter really is the best medicine!
Mindfulness: How being present can help us shift into a more positive state.
Mindfulness is all about being present and being aware of your thoughts and feelings.
When we’re mindful, we’re better able to recognise when we’re stuck in a negative state and attempt to shift into a more positive one.
One simple mindfulness technique is to take a few deep breaths and focus on your breath moving in and out of your body. This can help calm your mind and bring you into the present moment.
Physical movement: How exercise and movement can break us out of a negative state.
Physical movement is another powerful way to break state.
When we move our bodies, we release endorphins and other feel-good chemicals that can help us shift out of a negative state. You don’t have to do a full workout to reap the benefits of movement – even just taking a quick walk around the block or doing a few stretches can help.
So, the next time you’re feeling stuck in a negative state, try moving your body and see how it makes you feel.
Examples of Breaking State
Breaking state doesn’t have to be boring – in fact, it can be downright playful and fun! When working with clients, you might try some of these playful techniques to break state:
- “Do you smell popcorn?” This playful question is completely unrelated to the current topic at hand, but it can help shift the client’s focus and break them out of a negative state.
- “What colour is my shirt?” This is another playful and unrelated question that can help shift the client’s focus and break state.
- “Can you tell me a joke?.” Laughter is a powerful way to break state, so asking the client to tell a joke can be a fun and effective way to shift their mood.
- Take a deep breath and shake it out. This physical technique is a great way to break state and shift into a more positive and energetic mood.
- Do your best Elvis impersonation. This playful and silly technique might seem a little goofy, but it can be a fun. And effective way to break state and shift into a more positive and confident mood.
- Dance it out. Putting on your favourite song and having a dance party is a fun and effective way to break state and shift into a more positive and energised mood.
The key is to find a technique that feels playful and enjoyable for both you and the client. Breaking state doesn’t have to be a chore – it can be a fun and playful way to improve your mood, behaviour, and cognitive flexibility.
The Benefits of Breaking State
Breaking state isn’t just a fun and playful technique – it can actually have some serious benefits for our productivity, emotional regulation, and creativity.
Here’s what some of the top researchers have to say about the benefits of breaking state:
Improved productivity: How breaking state can help us get out of unproductive ruts According to the productivity guru David Allen, “You can’t manage time, but you can manage your state.”
And he’s right – breaking state can be a powerful way to shift out of an unproductive rut and into a more focused and productive state of mind.
As the psychologist and researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi notes, “The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”
So, the next time you’re feeling stuck in an unproductive rut, remember that breaking state can help you push past your limits and achieve your goals.
Better emotional regulation: How breaking state can help us manage our emotions more effectively. Emotional regulation is a complex and challenging skill, but breaking state can make it a little easier.
According to the psychologist and researcher James Gross, “Regulating your emotions is a fundamental skill to lead a satisfying life.” Breaking state can help us interrupt negative emotional patterns and create space for us to shift into a more positive and regulated state of mind.
As the researcher and author Tara Brach puts it, “Mindfulness is the gateway to our deepest inner resources: clarity, curiosity, and compassion.” So, the next time you need to regulate your emotions, try breaking state and see how it helps.
Increasing creativity: How changing perspectives can help us consider new ideas
In creativity, breaking state can be a powerful tool. According to the cognitive scientist and researcher Lera Boroditsky, “Language shapes the way we think, and determines what we can think about.”
Breaking state can help us shift into a more open and flexible state of mind, which can lead to improved creativity and problem-solving abilities.
As the author and entrepreneur Seth Godin puts it, “The riskiest thing you can do is play it safe.” So, the next time you need to be innovative, try breaking state and see where your imagination takes you.
Breaking state isn’t just some dry and boring concept – it’s a fun and engaging way to improve our lives. As the psychologist and researcher Barbara Fredrickson notes, “The more positive emotions we have, the more resilient we become.”
Breaking state can help us access those positive emotions and build our resilience in the face of life’s challenges.
So, the next time you’re feeling stuck or uninspired, remember that breaking state can be a fun and effective way to shift your mood and mindset. As the wise Dr. Seuss once said, “Fun is good.”
Using Breaking State in Daily Life
Now that we’ve explored the benefits of breaking state, it’s time to get down to business and start using it in our daily lives.
Here are some tips and tricks to make breaking state a regular part of your routine:
A. How to identify when we need to break state Sometimes, it’s hard to know when we need to break state.
But if you’re feeling stuck, uninspired, or unmotivated, or if you’re experiencing negative emotions like anxiety, frustration, or sadness, it might be time to try a quick breaking state technique.
As the famous author J. K. Rowling once said, “We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already.”
B. Tips for incorporating breaking state into our daily routines. Breaking state doesn’t have to be a big, time-consuming process.
In fact, it can be as simple as incorporating silly dance breaks or funny jokes into your daily routine.
For example, the entrepreneur and author Tim Ferriss recommends doing “something silly” for a minute or two to break state and shift into a more positive mood.
As he puts it, “Changing your state of mind is often the fastest way to change your circumstances.”
For example, we know the entrepreneur and investor Richard Branson using physical activity to break state and shift into a more productive mindset. “Whenever I’m feeling stuck, I take a walk, run, or swim. It clears my head and helps me come up with new ideas.”
Similarly, the writer and speaker Brene Brown recommends using humour to break state and shift into a more positive mindset.
As she says, “Laughter and humour are essential coping mechanisms, and they help us stay resilient in the face of life’s challenges.”
Breaking state might sound like something out of a fantasy novel – like a powerful enchantment or a mystical ritual. But in reality, it’s just a fancy way of saying we can change our state of mind whenever we want.
So, there you have it – everything you need to know about breaking state. Now, it’s time to put your new knowledge to the test.
Are you ready for the challenge? Here it is: for the next week, try incorporating at least one silly or playful breaking state technique into your daily routine.
Whether it’s a silly dance break, a funny joke, or a deep-breathing exercise, make it a habit to shift your mood and mindset whenever you need a boost.
Then, come back and share your results in the comments below. We can’t wait to hear how breaking state is transforming your life, one playful technique at a time!