There is plenty of research that indicates the benefits of taking regular vacations and leaving work behind. Focusing on a hobby, or anything other than work, has great restorative powers. Rest and rejuvenation – even short breaks – have been shown to be critical in restoring job focus, heightening problem solving capacity and boosting productivity.
What are some practical ways to take breaks so you can always be your best?
Make the commitment to small changes
Breaks don’t always have to be an extended travel odyssey or months out of the office. Unfortunately, many of us overthink the possible consequences of taking a break from work – being away for too long, how much work there will be to catch up on and how much a getaway can cost.
Extended breaks have their time and place. But breaks can also come from shorter, simpler routines that we can perform on a daily basis to help us relax and refocus. The trick is to be purposeful about it. Just do it.
Make lunch the most important meal of the day
Be vigilant about your lunch break. It’s a great way to take a break during the day, nourish yourself and reset. Schedule it. Plan around it. Let others know it is part of your routine. Include it in your outgoing voice mail message. Then, at the appointed time, leave your desk and have your meal. If you can, leave the office entirely. Get outside. Take a short walk. Whatever. Just avoid anything work related: no returning calls, texts or emails. Leave your phone behind if you have to.
Short, simple refocusing tricks
Stressed at your desk? Try breathing exercises. Some can take less than a minute, but have long-term benefits. Belly breathing is a great one: sit up straight in a chair, feet flat on the floor. Place a hand on your belly and breathe in and out slowly. Concentrate on how you feel and the sensation of your hand rising and falling on your belly. Do 10 breaths and then 10 more if you like.
This is just one of many short, simple breathing and refocusing exercises that you can find online. There are also simple meditation exercises that you can try. Even being silent can be helpful. Finding a quiet place at work may be a challenge, but it is something you can try at home. At the end of the day, sit quietly for two or three or five minutes and clear the noise and bustle from your brain. The key is to give your mind a break and a chance to refresh by focusing on something other than work for a few moments.