Picture by netwalker
Lately I’ve been getting stuck over-working. I don’t mean staying late and getting overtime. I mean missing break-time, or becoming so immersed in work that I don’t leave my chair for 2 straight hours.
While my boss may like this activity on the surface, it is not beneficial to either me or her. The simple fact is that most of us do better when we take breaks. You see this at any pre-school or kindergarten. Kids are told to take a break to play or rest, or simply to change from math and numbers to art and drawing.
This change of pace helps our mind learn better, and improves our concentration and focus. You’ll notice this whenever you say to yourself “I’m really stuck on this project, I’m going to wait until to tomorrow to do this to get a fresh perspective.” The next day, after a full night’s rest, you look at the problem again and suddenly see a solution where you thought there where none.
So how can you make the most of your mini-breaks? One way is to vary the type of activity to your mood and energy level. If you are feeling ill, you may want to skip the walk and just take a quiet 2 minutes to close your eyes and take a couple of refreshing deep breathes.
Here are a few mini-break ideas to get you started:
- Walk around the building. This is an often over-looked break. When you are stressed-out, frustrated or simply tired, this is a great way to loosen up and unwind. It helps un-kink your back, neck and shoulders. The physical activity your blood moving and the effects can help aid your concentration for the next 2 hours or more. And even if it’s cloudy the light is better outside than those harsh fluorescent lights. As an added benefit if it’s a sunny day you will even get some free vitamin D.
- Quiet time. This is harder to do than the others, but is highly effective. Some places to go for quiet are; the empty conference room, your car, an empty park bench outside, a vacant cubicle, and in a pinch, the bathroom stall. Quiet time is most effective if you can close your eyes and take a couple of deep breaths without being disturbed. You don’t have to be long – even 2 minutes will help, the key is simply some kind of reminder to do it.
- Internet break. Many of us are blocked from various Internet sites, but even work-related sites can sometimes be fun. Look for jokes related to your industry, cartoons, pictures of babies, puppies or other cute animals, or a funny article about your coworkers. You can find stress-relief articles on health sites, or simply go to a science web site and read about the latest, greatest technical inventions for an interesting change of pace.
- Stretch. Raising your hands above your head and reaching your toes 5 times in a row is a wonderful release for tension and muscle pain. Often we don’t even realize we’re feeling achy until we get up. And believe me, even if you have to do this at your desk, your body, and most likely your friends will thank you. Even though you’ll feel exposed and vulnerable, wondering if people are noticing your belly, or your old shoes, you’ll be pleased to find they simply notice the pleasure you’re getting from stretching out your back, and soon enough they’ll be following suit.
- Music. Whether you like it loud or love to relax to quiet melodies, music is a great break. It can invigorate you, especially if you sing along while taking a walk or working out. You can use it to transport you to a tranquil oasis, where waterfalls quietly gurgle and birds sing in the trees. Use your MP3 player to its full potential. Listen at work, while in line, during a long car ride, or for 15 minutes after work. Look for thing songs that really inspire you.
- Humor. Laughter is a great tool for relieving stress. Keep a joke-a-day calendar, some funny one-liners, or a cartoon book like Peanuts or Dilbert. Send funny pictures or tell the story about your dog in the snow. Share your favorite silly commercial, your husband’s baby picture or whatever else strikes your fancy. The smiles and happy memories will make you feel good and improve your day.