Feed the Need to Veg Out

February 14, 2022

Abrar Hammoud

Vegetables. They nourish our bodies, sharpen our minds, and tantalize our taste buds. They provide us with essential sustenance and are so ubiquitous they're often used to describe our lives and relationships. For instance, your best friends and you may go together like peas and carrots. They’re cool as cucumbers when you find yourself in a pickle. When you’ve got a secret, they can get you to spill the beans.

Our days spent vegging out are just as important as eating one’s vegetables. To veg out means to take a cognitive break and enter a calming state of relaxation. It’s a respite from challenging tasks and difficult issues, and an opportunity to refuel when we’re running low on energy.

In academically rigorous environments like Purdue, the benefits of vegging out aren’t always at the forefront of our minds. We’ll often hear students say, “I should be studying” or that they feel like they’re “slacking off” if they take a break. Yet the individuals most likely to burn out are the ones least likely to take some time for themselves. Doing so may be viewed as a negative when it’s quite the opposite – it’s a necessity.

Researchers with the British Psychological Society have found that longer cognitive breaks are good for you. However, how we approach these breaks is important. If you feel guilty for taking time-outs, the value of restorative breathers is diminished. In other words, give yourself a break when you take a break!

According to Brian O’Connor, author of the book Idleness: A Philosophical Essay, idleness is a worthwhile endeavor and offers the potential for greater freedom and exploration of ideas. Fulfilling your need for downtime is more valuable than pushing yourself to the limit because the breaks you take lead to greater productivity down the line.

The following tips shed some light on ways to enjoy vegging out:

  • Consider the difference between incubation and procrastination. Incubation is a restful, passive period of time that can assist the growth and development of your ideas. On the other hand, procrastination is the delaying of tasks and can contribute to feelings of guilt. If you find yourself procrastinating, forgive yourself.
  • Rest for lengths that serve you best. What you consider short or long will likely differ from what someone else does. Plan mental time-outs according to your own perceptions of time. 
  • Explore productive and fun ways to “waste time” to help get you into leisure mode.
  •  As with anything, moderation is key. Balancing your vegging-out sessions with your working sessions is as important as eating a balanced nutritional diet. Aim for harmony between the two.

Although life isn’t always a bowl of cherries, take some time to enjoy the fruits of your labor during your next vegging out session. Rest assured that doing so will nourish both your mind and body.

Be Well,

Abrar Hammoud

Abrar Hammoud is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Technology Leadership and Innovation. Her research explores resilience in collaborative teams, particularly connections between artistic expressions of failure, belonging, and willingness to take creative design risks. Be sure to check back each week for another wellness tip of the week!

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