50 Ways to Stay Well #36- Take Your Breaks

Pictured: I used to take yoga breaks at lunch in my old office storeroom.

Most full time employees have a mandated lunch break and 1-2 coffee breaks, but how many people take these breaks? I love teaching but I do miss my breaks when I was an office worker. I especially miss being able to take a pee break when I had to go! Ha ha!

But when it comes to my office working friends, they often get too involved in what they are doing and opt to skip breaks to work more, which is bad for your health! The brain and body needs breaks! You might find your ability to concentrate diminishes if you don’t take the few minutes to step away from your work and refocus.

Productivity-Boosting Activities For Your Break

(Source: Fast Company)

So you’ve realized the importance of breaks and added them into your day–hooray! Now: How to spend your well-deserved break? Here are a few suggestions, each with proven benefits!

  1. Take a walk – walking increases blood flow to the brain, which can boost creative thought. Regular walks can enhance the connectivity of important brain circuits, combat age-related declines in brain function and improve memory and cognitive performance. Download the University of Lethbridge Walking maps for both indoor and outdoor route
  2. Eat – Replenish your brain with a snack–try some brain-and productivity- boosting foods such as nut, avocados, blueberries, fish, dark chocolate, whole grains, and carrots.
  3. Read – Read a (non-work) book–especially fiction. Studies have shown that individuals who frequently read fiction are better able to understand other people, empathize with them and see the world from their perspective.
  4. Get a coffee – OK, you probably already though of this break option. But are you timing your coffee breaks correctly? For people who wake up between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., the optimal times for consuming caffeine fall somewhere around 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Remember to pair your coffee with a glass of water!
  5. Doodle – Let your mind wander as you put pen to paper for some creative free time. Research shows that doodling can stimulate new ideas and help us stay focused.
  6. Listen to music – Focusing on music can significantly improve our motor and reasoning skills, and it has a variety of health benefits as well.
  7. Exercise – Exercise gives you more energy and help you gain focus. You can pack in a decent workout in under 10 minutes, and switching to a different kind of task give yours mind needed rest.
  8. Talk to friends or coworkers – Yup, even hanging out with coworkers for a bit is a productive break! Research shows that talking with colleagues can increase your productivity.
  9. Meditate – One of the most powerful ways to relax your brain in a short amount of time is a session of meditation. Meditation lowers stress levels and improves overall health as well as creativity.
  10. Go outside and see some nature – Spending time in nature is good for your immune system and has been shown to improve focus and relieve stress.

Resources

University of Lethbridge Campus Walking maps

Take Your Break- Weekly emails with break time ideas (Workplace Strategies for Mental Health)

 

Articles

Why You Need To Stop Thinking You Are Too Busy To Take Breaks (Fast Company)

Benefits of lunch breaks (Best Health Magazine)

Why Taking a Break at Work Makes You a Better Employee (Health Magazine)

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