When you work a stressful job, it is important to take advantage of the restorative potential that breaks can offer. Many people spend their breaks checking their email, using their smartphones, smoking cigarettes, or, unfortunately, continuing to work instead of taking their break. When jobs offer short periods of time for breaks to recuperate from workloads, a lot of people choose to skip the recuperative part and jump into other activities that are unhealthy, require effort, and may even lead to additional stress and anxiety.
Although taking a break during your workday can be challenging for a variety of reasons, if you have an opportunity to take a break-five minutes, fifteen minutes, or any length of time shorter or longer-the things you do during that time can have a dramatic impact on your mood, health, and ability to make it through the rest of the day as pleasantly as possible. When breaks are spent engaging in self-care activities that promote stress- and anxiety-reduction, you can return to work relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready to conquer the next demands placed on you.
- Go for a walk – By the time breaks roll around, many people are feeling sluggish and worn out. Those who are not on the verge of taking an unintentional nap are often feeling angry or anxious about work-related (or non-work-related) situations. Going for a short walk, whether inside your office building or outside in the fresh air, is an easy way to sneak in some healthy exercise, physically release your stress, and give you that extra boost of energy to help you get through the rest of the day.
- Drink a glass of water – Although the day-to-day stresses of work can damper your mood, dehydration also contributes to the extent that your work demands impact how you feel. While you are on-the-job, it can be challenging to drink water on a regular basis for many reasons-from being prohibited to having liquids near equipment to forgetting because of how busy you are-which makes break times essential re-hydration opportunities to take advantage of whenever possible. Simply drinking a glass of water can decrease headaches, reduce physical tension, and lighten moods.
- Breathe deeply – When considering how positive the benefits can be given how little effort is needed, a few moments of deep breathing provide one of the most efficient and effective forms of quick stress-reduction. Breathing exercises are excellent opportunities to bring you back into your body and out of your head, which may be spinning with anxiety, anger, or other emotions that crop up during the work day. Regardless of the form of deep breathing you prefer, even five deep breaths can offer rejuvenation and relaxation. You can be creative at adding in moments for deep breaths throughout the day, such as mindfully breathing while waiting for the elevator or for the person on the other line of the phone picks up the call.
- Write a gratitude list – Spending some time every day to write a list of things you are grateful for can be a positive exercise to do anytime. A gratitude list can be written anywhere on anything-a sticky note, a memo pad on your phone, a journal, an email to yourself-and provides a moment of pleasant reflection on your day to remember the little things in life that keep you going.
- Take a stretch – Want to engage in a physical activity but do not have the time or space to do much? Simply stretching your muscles can provide many of the benefits of more physical activity. Even if you are unable to leave your chair, there are a number of different arm, leg, shoulder, and back stretches you can do without having to get up from your desk.
By engaging in self-care activities during break times, whether you have just a few minutes or a whole hour, you set yourself up for a more pleasant day from that point on. Work demands can be taxing enough; Treat yourself to calming, relaxing, and simple shifts in how you spend those non-working moments to make the most of your work break.