Below are little ways to take a break during the day whilst working.
Taking breaks intentionally and regularly throughout the day is a simple, and strategic action to help prevent mental fatigue, promote alertness, mental energy levels/stamina and help productivity.
Little ways to take a break during the day
Breaks can be:
- Pauses – Pause every 30 minutes for 2 to 3 minutes, e.g. to get a drink – tea, water or juice.
- Micro pauses – the 20/20/20 rule – looking away from the screen every 20 minutes at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds is advisable, to prevent eye strain, headaches and mental fatigue.
- Go out of the building, get some air for 2 minutes. If working from home and have a garden, use your garden, even if it’s just standing in the garden and doing deep breathing exercises or doing breathwork. It is refreshing and clears the brain.
- Natural breaks – Go to the toilet as often as and as soon as required. The short walk away from the workstation/desk to the toilet and using the toilet could take 2 to 3 minutes, it’s an opportunity to pause and pace oneself. Postponing or delaying toilet breaks till later because of work intensity is dangerous to one’s health and impacts productivity.
- Lunch breaks – Don’t skip lunch and if possible take lunch away from the work desk. 10 minute lunch break for a sandwich is better than no lunch break. It helps to stabilise blood glucose levels needed for energy. Sit and eat outside if it’s sunny or use the eating area indoors/ step to your dining area if working from home. Use some of your lunch time to listen to music, short podcast or audio book – 5 minutes. It breaks the day up nicely and it can be inspiring.
- Postural breaks – stretches take 1 minute each time and can be done at your work desk, to prevent tension and tightness of muscles.
- Upper back stretch – interlace fingers, then turn palm upwards above the head as arms are straightened. Stretch and hold for 10 to 20 seconds and repeat 3 times.
- Shoulder and arm stretch – interlace fingers, straighten arms out in front, palms facing away from the body. Hold stretch for 10 seconds and repeat 2 times.
- Shoulder shrug – raise the top of shoulders towards the ears, feel the slight tension for 5 seconds, then relax shoulders downwards and repeat 3 times.
- Lumbar stretch – whilst standing, hold lower back and bend backwards. Hold for 15 seconds.
- Hand and neck stretch – turn head slowly to left, then right, drop chin to chest. Lift chin, and tilt head to the left, then to the right. Repeat 3 times. (Stretching 2000 by Bob & Jean Anderson) www.stretching.com
Other little ways to take a break during the day
- Regular movement, postural change – to avoid prolonged static/sitting whilst working. A height adjustable desk can be helpful in allowing you to alternate posture regularly between sitting and standing. It takes just about 1 minute to do 10 squats by the work desk.
- Random breaks – Get up and move around your desk especially whilst on a work call, if a mobile phone or wireless headset is in use. Get up and stretch during long virtual or in-person meetings.
You are more productive when you take breaks. Be creative with how you spend your day and it will serve you well.