Give Me a Break
How many of you are reading this article while sitting in front of your computer eating a #saddesklunch? Put everything down and take a break. Step away from your desk, no checking work emails, go get some fresh air and eat your lunch in peace.
According to NPR, only 1 in 5 people step away for lunch…that means roughly 80% of workers aren’t taking a break in the middle of the day. Not only this, but many of us count a trip to the bathroom or the printer as a “break” – oh heck no! Recent research suggests that our health, productivity, and job satisfaction can suffer when we don’t make good use of our time away from work-related activities.
The consequences of failing to take breaks extend beyond just the mental exhaustion from being engaged in work non-stop. It can impact our physical health, too, in the form of sitting for extended periods of time. Our largely sedentary lifestyles are negatively impacting our health, putting at increased risk for chronic diseases. Additionally, sitting all day is wreaking havoc on our low back, neck, wrists, and hips. Are you still sitting while reading this? Get on up!
Below are our best tips and tricks for taking workday breaks:
Take short, frequent breaks. Instead of one, long break at some point throughout the day, try taking a 10-15 minute break every couple of hours. Maybe you walk to the coffeeshop down the street while listening to your favorite podcast or Pandora station. Another idea is to find a quiet space and mediate or journal for 10 minutes.
Take one mid-morning. Let’s be proactive here! Taking a break in the middle of your morning prior to fatigue and exhaustion setting in can help you stay energized and focused later in the day.
30/2 Rule. For every 30 minutes you sit, stand up for 2 minutes. While this isn’t taking a “break” from working, this is still so important as it will stretch out those muscles and get them engaged again. Great for our physical health!
No more desk lunches. We understand that sometimes your schedule necessitates a desk lunch. But, as much as you can, opt for fresh air or at least eating away from your computer. This can seriously have such a positive impact on your mood, energy levels, and happiness.
Whatever it is, do something that makes you happy. Fill your break time with something that excites you, gives you energy, or simply just makes you feel good. Preferred activities are more refreshing, stress-free, and provide autonomy and control. All things that can drastically make the workday hours more enjoyable and go by faster!
As to-do lists pile up, emails flood in, and deadlines rapidly approach, it can be hard to force ourselves to take those breaks. Our final tips are to look for natural pauses in the day (perhaps once you’ve answered 10 emails) OR schedule them in to your Google Calendar and set alerts. We love the saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup” and that holds true at work. If you’re running on empty because you aren’t taking care of yourself, other aspects of your life will suffer. Taking breaks is a form of self-care and we’re all about that self-care life.
“Libby Landry is the founder of Simple Wellness Co., a corporate wellness consulting firm dedicated to making the workplace a healthier and happier place. Libby is passionate about all things health and wellness and believes that it’s the little changes we make that have the most impact. Simple Wellness Co. is based in San Diego, but we never say no to bringing wellness outside of our backyard!”
FB: Simple Wellness Co.