Hopefully now you understand why taking breaks and having those few minutes of quiet are so important for our well-being and productivity. You may have even experienced the results first hand! The challenge, however, isn’t in understanding or believing that it works. The challenge is in holding yourself accountable regularly to do it.  

Step 1: WHY?

Step 2: What’s your plan? 

Step 3: How will you stick with it?

You know things need to change, you have ideas about what to change, but how will you make it happen? 

Step 1: Why?

Why are you concerned about your well-being? Is it because someone else is telling you to be? Or because you see the impact it can have on your life both inside and outside the music room? Having a firm understanding of why you are trying to make a change is important to come back to throughout this process. 

Think about exactly why taking breaks during the school day (or whatever works for you) is so important. 

Step 2: Come up with a plan

If you can articulate why focusing on well-being is important to you, the next step is to to figure out a plan of implementation. You are creating new habits. What exactly are you going to do? And how will you do it? 

Will you meditate daily for 5 minutes?  

Take a 10-minute walk during lunch? 

Incorporate focused breathing exercises in your rehearsals? 

Step 3: How will you stick with it?

While there are many different ways people have worked to build new habits, the two things we will focus on here are Habit Tracking and Accountability Buddies. Habit tracking is a visual method of holding yourself accountable, while an accountability buddy involves another person in the process.

A Few More Notes on Accountability and Habits

Habit Stacking

James Clear, in his book Atomic Habits*, talks about “habit stacking” – when you attach a new habit you are trying to develop to an existing one. Your brain is already used to doing the original habit, you just need to create the connection for the new habit. 

For example, for many people, the first thing they do upon sitting down at their desk is turn on the computer to check email. What if every time you turn on the computer, you close your eyes and take three calming breaths? Start small and build the habits from there. 

For more information on Habit Stacking, check out this article by James Clear: How to Build New Habits by Taking Advantage of Old Ones


There is nothing wrong with adding reminders! It could look like a cell phone alarm reminding you to meditate at lunch or a sticky note on your music stand, reminding you to have the ensemble take 3 calming breaths before rehearsal begins. Use the tools you have to build the habits you need. 

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