Studies have shown that taking a break can increase work productivity and be beneficial to general well-being and health. However, in busy times where the workload becomes full on, employees can easily fall under two dangerous categories. They can skip taking breaks altogether or may be taking breaks that aren’t really effective in restoring energy. Here is a guide to the types of breaks you should be taking and what you should do to make the most of out them.
When you have a five-minute break
Stop staring at your screen. Having a break from your computer only to gaze at your mobile will not allow your eyes or your brain to rest. Even when we think we’re doing something as mindless as scrolling through Facebook on our phones, our brains are still using energy and won’t properly revitalise. Step out into a different room, have a quick chat with co-workers and you will be much more likely to focus once you return to work. When you complete a task, don’t move straight onto the next one – reward yourself with another five minutes of rest! Giving yourself small breaks throughout the day is likely to make you more productive and save you more time than if you tried to push through and work for hours without rest.
When you have a lunch break
Get away from the office. Take a walk outside to stretch your muscles and clear your head! For a really good stretch, see if there are any yoga or pilates classes that you can take to help you de-stress. Seeing the light of day during your working week can be beneficial for your health and can help your creative thoughts to come out of their restrictive box (after all, Albert Einstein did come up with the theory of relativity while riding a bike!)
In addition to exercise, its important to eat food in your lunch break, as simple as that sounds. As long as your lunch food is not exclusively deep fried, lunch will provide you with nutrition and a newfound energy when the morning’s sprightliness begins to wear off. Many employees make the mistake of eating lunch at their desk when they feel they have too much work to do, but stepping away can actually help you get those tasks done more quickly.
When you have a day off
It is important to keep your brain happy by getting on top of things when you get a day off. While it may be tempting to be a sloth in front of the TV after working hard all week, it can be satisfying to check off your to-do list of non work related tasks. This can be a great opportunity to get tasks done that you had been putting off because you were simply too tired or couldn’t find the time. The day can be divided – if you get everything done in the morning, the afternoon and evening can be spent at your leisure!
When there are busy periods of work it can be equally tempting to keep checking emails and staying on top of work, but days off and weekends should be a complete break to refresh yourself for when you return.
When you have a week off
A week should be dedicated to some quality ‘you’ time. This will be different for everyone and will be determined by whatever makes you happy and helps you de-stress. For some this might be organising a catch-up with a friend without the usual stress of conflicting schedules. For others it might be finding the energy to get back to the gym, conducting a well overdue clean up or simply having a week of rest and recuperation. If you have an office job where you spend a great portion of your day in the same position staring at the screen, you might want to dedicate one day for a spa day of relaxation, massages and meditation. This can help de-stress you mentally as well as relieve some muscular tension!
When you have a month off
If you have been working non-stop for months on end, it may be a bad idea to plan a holiday that’s also non-stop. It can be tempting to plan meticulously and try to cram in as much sightseeing as possible, but a jam-packed tour of Europe might leave you still needing a rest after your holiday. Pick a holiday destination you most want to visit – if there’s several places you want to see, try narrow it down! Best to choose what you most want to do rather than following other people’s plans. For some that might mean lazing a beach and others that may be hiking in the Mountains – whatever will help you take your mind off work so you can return ready to get back into it.
WORDS BY LAUREN PIGGOTT. If you’d like more advice on how to work to your full potential, sign up to the PropellHer mentoring program here and feel free to ask any questions to an experienced mentor in your field.
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