Everyone needs a work break now and then. Even if it’s to rest your brain, grab a snack, and chat with your coworkers. It doesn’t make you lazy or unproductive; it makes you smart. Step away from your work and avoid exhaustion. Breaks make workers more alert, productive, focused, and creative. Fatigued workers are more likely to make mistakes, get involved in conflicts, or injure themselves, especially for employees who are tasked with a more physical job. Here are some tips on taking breaks at work.
Take frequent work breaks
Some studies have suggested most people can focus for 90-minute intervals, so take work breaks at least every 90 minutes for about 15 to 20 minutes. Other studies indicate a technique where you work for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. And then there’s a third option that suggests taking a 17-minute break after working for 52 minutes. Decide which option best matches your work situation and schedule and try to stay true to that.
Stretch your muscles
A workout can do wonders for making you feel re-energized, but most people don’t have the luxury of being able to squeeze that in during the workday. Instead, take a few minutes to stretch your muscles, particularly your arms, legs, and back. Just a little bit of motion can help relieve tension, get your blood flowing, and bring oxygen to the brain. There are a few quick yoga moves that you can do in a tight space that could be effective.
Take a walk
Right around 2 p.m. is when people usually feel the sleepiest, so use that time to take a quick walk if you can’t do a full workout. Sometimes, just a 10-minute brisk walk can get your blood pumping just enough that it improves your concentration and helps you return to your work refreshed.
If you have the time and appropriate space, try taking a 20 to 40-minute nap during your lunch work break. This is perfect in the early afternoon, right after lunch. Sometimes a few minutes of merely shutting your eyes can make you feel energized and be just what you need.
Replenish with food and water
Drink some water, grab a coffee, and have a snack—not a giant meal that will make you feel tired and lethargic, but something quick and light. Try some hydrating fruit, carrots and hummus or dip, or some energizing nuts or trail mix.
Read and listen to music
Just let your brain take a break from thinking and planning and processing. Scroll through some social media, watch a quick video, read a book, or listen to your favorite music.
Chat with your coworkers during your work break. Phone a friend or relative to catch up real quick. Humans are naturally social, so having a conversation with someone can be a great way to re-energize.
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