by Alexandra Kutcher
Ah, yes. 8 hours of bliss, sitting at a desk, staring at a computer screen. This is the life.
Wait, what? No, that can’t possibly be right. No one is actually enjoying that, right? What happened to everybody’s working for the weekend?
Unless there’s some magical aspect to sitting and staring for 8 hours straight that I’ve somehow overlooked… But let’s just rule that out, shall we?
Okay, so maybe I work for the weekend a little too hard. But why people don’t take their breaks, and choose to eat lunch at their desks is beyond my comprehension. “Well I don’t have time to take a break, I have deadlines to meet.”
Well, guess what? Taking a couple of five- to ten-minute breaks and taking your full lunch increases your productivity, can lower physical ailments, and reduces stress. I hate to break it to you, but when you’re overwhelmed by everything you have on your plate, taking a break is exactly what you should be doing. Plus, it’s fun.
“What am I going to do for 10 minutes? I could be working.” It seems like a joke, but WikiHow has instructions on how to take a break at work. Really, people? There has to be another way.
To ensure that you don’t find yourself on WikiHow, let me give you a few suggestions:
For starters, set an alarm of some sort to ensure that you will recognize that break time has indeed begun. Then, go outside, take a walk, avert your eyes from your screen for a couple minutes, stretch, get a snack, play a game, do nothing. And, if your office supports it, take a power nap! Naps are a remarkable way of recharging your energy and focus. Call a friend, draw a picture. Just make sure you keep it between five to ten minutes.
See that wasn’t so hard, was it? And best of all, you don’t have to feel guilty, because, as I mentioned before, this is actually increasing your productivity in the long run.
Your brain is a muscle, and you need to exercise it. But, just like every other muscle that you work so hard to sculpt, it needs a rest sometimes. Taking a break will give your brain a bit of a recharge. Once you’ve given it a good few minutes to relax, it will be fresh and ready to take on the next wave of work you have to tackle. You’ll be able to work with a rested mind and a new burst of energy.
If you still are skeptical about the whole break-taking thing, hear this: The American Journal of Epidemiology states that if you sit more than six hours per day, you’re at an 18% higher risk for increasing your risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes than those who sit fewer than three hours per day.
None of that sounds worth sitting all day, now does it?
“My alarm went off, but I don’t fee like I need a break, and I’m on a roll!” Then don’t take a break. Push it back until you’re in a good stopping place. The thing that really has a negative impact is when you push yourself past what your body and mind are able to deliver.
So you’re taking your breaks now, right? Great. Now what about your lunch? Are you eating at your desk? If you are, you’re not alone. This is a common practice in the workplace—one I can’t quite wrap my mind around.
A study done by Right Management states that a third of workers eat lunch at their desks every day, while another 16% don’t even take lunch (or if they do, it is a rare occasion).
Why are people doing this? Because they’re feeling crunched for time? Stressed? Remember everything I just stated about your short breaks? That applies to taking your lunch break, too. Your body needs that extra recharge to make it through the second half of your day. Eating gives your body and mind calories to run on, and so does the time you’re spending NOT working.
That’s right, walk away from your desk, take your full lunch, and relax. When you go back to your desk, you’ll have a clearer mind, and you will be ready to take on the afternoon.
So… set a reminder on your phone or computer for every few hours, and when that alarm sounds, take a few deep breaths, and take five.