We all lead busy working lives and often forget or choose not to take a break. For many their lives are ruled by their work. I know work’s important as it allows us to pay our way in the world and, especially if we enjoy what we do, makes us feel we’re making a contribution and valued.
It’s just that life is about… balance. Too much of one thing is not good. I love ice cream, but would hate to eat a ton of it all in one go. I should know, I’ve tried :)
In a busy working day some people often work their our lunch and coffee breaks, they take their work home with them and some even work into the weeeeee small hours of the morning. Especially since hybrid working has become the norm. Are you one of those people?
Sometimes we allow our work to take over our lives without realising it; sometimes it can’t be helped as a deadline has to be met.
So for the times it can’t be helped, when you can’t have a substantial break, at the very least have some ‘micro’ breaks. I suggest at least 3 or 4 micro breaks a day lasting no longer than 3 or 4 minutes each.
WARNING!!! This is a temporary approach to not having a proper break, not the long term solution.
Why would you want to take a micro break? How many times have you found yourself wrestling with a problem of some sort, taken a break or decided to go to bed for the night only to find when you return to the issue you‘ve thought of the solution? This is the purpose of these exercises; relaxation which leads to increased productivity.
Some of the suggestions may seem a little unusual and take you well out of your comfort zone. They have purposely been designed to do that as the objective is to take your mind off work altogether for a short while and enjoy your break so you’ll return to the task in hand recharged, refreshed and motivated.
When carrying out these breaks, I suggest you do them away from your area of work. Ideally in another room, even if you have to lock yourself in the loo then just do it. Why? Your place of work is your place of work and your subconscious mind will perceive it as such. If you go to the same place to have your micro breaks your sub conscious mind will eventually associate this area for non work activities. Also, if you stay in your area of work, you’ll find it harder to relax.
The point is eventually you’ll find it easier and quicker to relax at your micro break area and quicker to get back to work and be productive when you return to your work area.
Above all else… ENJOY the micro break!!
SUGGESTED MICRO BREAKS
1) Go for a short walk in the fresh air – At least leave the area where you work.
2) Meditate, or practice mindfulness, or just be still for a few minutes – You don’t have to be a Zen master to do this, just find a quiet spot where you can sit comfortably and do your best to let your mind go blank. You’ll also be amazed at the ideas you’ll have and clarity of thought after being still.
3) Carry out a random act of kindness – Buy someone in the office (or a neighbour) a bun for no reason. Put a few coins in the busker’s hat. Learn how to make a balloon animal and give it to a child. The quickest way to cheer yourself up is to cheer up somebody else.
4) Have a power nap – If it was good enough for Winston Churchill and Thomas Eddison it’s good enough for us. I’m not suggesting for one moment you put on your Spider-Man jim jams or your Barbi nightie. You can forget the cocoa too. Don’t get too comfy, just find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed for 10 to 20 minutes. Power naps are excellent for clearing the head and returning to work refreshed.
5) Smile – This one is not about relaxation but just feeling better. Practice your smile all day and every day. It’s been well documented that we use fewer muscles to smile than to frown. It’s been scientifically proven that whenever we engage in a positive physical behaviour, our mental mind-set changes for the better. You might feel silly doing it, but you will feel better for it. If you’re passing someone in a corridor or on the street, smile and say, ‘Hi’. The chances are they’ll smile back. Warning – don’t do this when being given bad news or worst still when giving bad or sensitive news :)
Of course, you might think of something else, and whatever you do it has to suit you.
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