Coffee. Commute to Office. Coffee. Email. Meeting. Coffee. Meeting. Lunch Meeting. Coffee. Email. Phone call. Meeting. Meeting. Commute Home. Email. Phone. TV. Sleep. Repeat.
Sound familiar? If not, replace “Meeting” with your primary job function: Programming, customer support, etc. Regardless of what you’re doing throughout the day or what you replace for your “8-to-5” there’s one thing missing. And if you read the title of the article, you clearly know what that is.
That’s a myth! This Social Triggers article runs through some key research that debunks any argument that tries to define breaks as “lazy behavior.” They specifically point to research done that illustrates how our brain isn’t shutting down when we rest:
Research from the University of Southern California that suggests that our brain uses the downtime to make important connections that shape our identity and social behavior – things like recalling personal memories, imagining the future, and developing a code of ethics.Why you need to take more breaks (and how to do it) ~ social triggers
So by taking breaks, we can be more effective in our work. Whether that’s making better decisions, retaining more information, or having better and stronger focus on the task at hand.
There are lots of great options, but when you’re already dealing with decision fatigue from work, how are you supposed to make a decision on what to do when you take that break?
Do you just grab a cup of coffee and… sit?
Sure, you could!
But if you need a more “active” break, we’ve got some of our favorites that our team have tried depending on the time you want to take.
Take a lap
Get up and walk around! If you’re in a larger office building, take a few laps around and go up and down some flights of stairs. Get the blood pumping and joints moving. Nice day? Take it outside! Take a quick walk around the block or even just around the building’s exterior.
Stretch it out
There are some really great desk exercises and stretches detailed out there that you can do right at your desk if you don’t have the means to get up and move around. Many of these even help from a seated position. Still not feeling like a full break? Turn those monitors off!
Find a quiet space away from your desk and any distractions to sit and be mindful. Focus on your breathing and truly pay attention to how you’re feeling. Acknowledge your thoughts and then let them pass through without dwelling on any of them in particular. Pay close attention to your heart rate and posture.
Finish that book
Whether you’re re-reading the Harry Potter series, going through a self-help book, or brushing up on a new skill, have a book on-hand to read through a few pages here and there throughout the day. This is especially helpful for those who might feel guilty for taking a break and could position it around learning a new skill. Pro Tip: Don’t do this reading on a screen! Give your eyes a break from the flickering light and go old school with a paperback or hardcover book.
Work through a puzzle like a crossword or sudoku. Or heck, bring in a jigsaw puzzle to the office! These help you truly immerse yourself in something else to help distance your thoughts from the problem at hand and come back to your project with a fresh perspective.
Reflect on the day
Start a journal and jot down a few of your most recent observations or what you’re noticing at the time of writing. Don’t solve work problems or make a task list. This is just for stream of consciousness writing. What are you hearing, what are you seeing, how are you feeling? Then, after you have a few entries or weeks recorded, take time to read back through what you wrote.
Take a bike break! This is especially great in nice weather, but go ahead and bust out those fat tire bikes in winter, too. This is truly great when you have a posse to peddle with. Maybe you have a pre-determined route, or maybe you just ride for 15-minutes in one direction and then turn around and head back. There’s no specifics here, just get out and ride!
Learn a new language
Download a language teaching app like DuoLingo and learn a new language. Not only will you be learning life skills, but people who speak multiple languages exhibit improved memory, problem-solving skills, and critical thinking according to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.
Take some time to de-clutter and clean up your work area. Channel your inner Marie Kondo and ditch anything that’s no longer “sparking joy” in your environment. Clean out that drawer that collected mismatched and bent paper clips, right next to that stale Halloween candy you’ve been hanging on to for a rainy day. Gross, Karen. Just, gross.
Of course, this list is FAR from complete. Check out the articles we drew inspiration from and, of course, a quick Google search should point you in the direction of some fun ways to take breaks at work.
Often times we’ll speak with one or two folks from an organization who understand the importance of breaks but it can be challenging to easily share the value to the rest of their team. To make that super simple, we help them leverage Markey Digital Signage at work to remind their team to take breaks and even share some cool ideas they could use each day. Feel free to steal the ideas listed here or from the articles we shared on your digital signs as well!
Don’t have a Markey account yet? No worries! It’s super easy to sign up for a free account right here. Or, you can go Pro and get even more widgets and layouts. As always, hit us up if you’ve got questions.