Six quick ways to relax to increase productivity and resilience during a busy working day

It’s been said that in prison: You get time off for good behaviour.

At work: You get rewarded for good behaviour with… more work.

In prison: You spend most of your life looking through bars from the inside wanting to get out.

At work: You spend most of your time wanting to get out and go to bars.

We all lead busy working lives and often forget or choose not to take a break. Many of us are creating prisons for ourselves where our lives are ruled by our work. Ok, ok, work’s important, agreed, 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 chocolate, but would hate to eat a ton of it all in one go. I should know, I’ve tried :)

In a busy working day many of us often work through our lunch and coffee breaks, we take our work home with us and some of us even work into the weeeeee small hours of the morning.

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, I’m here to help you with your prison break out.

Why A Prison Break Out?

If you can’t have a proper 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.

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, increased productivity and resilience.

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 have fun so you’ll return to the task in hand recharged, refreshed and motivated.

When carrying out these ideas, if you can, do them away from your area of work. Ideally 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 break 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 in your micro break area and quicker to get back to work and be productive when you return to your work area.

Above all else… HAVE FUN!!

The Micro Prison Break Outs

1) Go for a short walk in the fresh air – At least leave the area where you work.

2) Meditate or 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 the meditation.

3) Carry out a random act of kindness – Buy someone in the office 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 Margaret Thatcher it’s good enough for us. I’m not suggesting for one moment you put on your Buzz Lightyear jim jams or your Peppa Pig nightie. You can forget the cocoa too. Don’t get too comfy, just find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed for 10/15/20 minutes. Power naps are excellent for clearing the head and returning to work refreshed.

5) Ask yourself silly questions – Would die hard vegetarians avoid driving through a town with the word ‘ham’ in the name? Is it true Cannibals don’t eat clowns because they taste funny? What would happen if you went on a diet of only garlic, curry and onions? Would you not lose weight but look thinner from a distance?

Why not have a competition with a friend and see who can ask the silliest questions.

6) 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. If you do something different to the list above, especially if it’s something unusual I’d love to know what it is.

By the way, if a criminal turns themself in, do they get the reward money? :)