How Taking Work Breaks Helps with Stress
For most of my life I have struggled with anxiety and stress. At my old jobs, I would find myself bored easily by routine, having to keep myself always moving, what you might call a workaholic, or maybe just A.D.D. The need to please my bosses and never make mistakes lead me to sleep less and skip meals, plus check my phone and emails constantly, never turning it off. It was no one’s fault, but my own…I had forgotten about taking care of ME.
When I quit, I felt this huge weight off my shoulders, but, what my young self didn't know at the time, is that, stress comes into your life no matter what, but it’s how you handle those stresses that determines how it affects you in the long run.
Having said that, it was not, and still is not easy to keep my mind and body calm at all times, but working at it daily can really make enormous improvements. I can already tell that my work breaks have made me more productive, and given me more time for myself.
Here are a few tips I’ve learned since becoming an entrepreneur, on why it is important to take works breaks, and how it can help you relieve stress in your work and personal life.
Just 5 Minutes
Pressing pause for even five minutes throughout the day can bring you great physical benefits. Creating some movement after sitting down at a desk for hours adds some daily exercise, while helping prevent disease, depression, and even lowering your risk of cancer. We don’t always find the time to work out, but not adding any motion to our day can lead to some scary stuff, including diabetes and obesity.
So the next time you find yourself moving around in your chair, sitting uncomfortably, just get up and take a quick walk away from your work area. Even find a corner to stretch your legs to increase circulation. I also keep weights by my desk to do some light lifting on my breaks.
Give Your Mind Some Clarity
Do you ever find yourself unable to concentrate after a long day at work? Taking a break not only helps with physical health, but mental health as well. Concentration, creativity, and productivity are said to improve when you step away for lunch, or a quick time out from a long shift.
Our minds are always going, and in some controversial studies humans are even said to have an attention span of less than 12 seconds, so how are we expected to do one thing for 8-12 hours straight without a quick break? Even if it’s to chat with a co-worker, or taking a quick breather outside, being away from a screen can really help us see things with clarity.
The Beauty of a Staycation & Vacation
Sometimes, a work break isn’t enough time to re-energize, so we need to get away. But, you don’t need to have tons of money to find an escape from your grueling week. One way to take a vaca on a budget, is with a staycation. Taking a few days to go on local hikes in your area, try a delicious new restaurant, catch up on that audiobook you’ve been wanting to finish for weeks, binge watch everything online, or sleep all day, whatever you choose, it is a great way to hit restart.
Of course we all know taking vacations to a different city or country, are great ways of hitting reset, so don’t forget to save and plan to add some adventure and discovery to your breaks, when possible. Local getaways and road trips are also good ways to vacation without going too far from home. Just remember that you only have one life, don’t spend it all at work.
SHHH BE QUIET
According to a study by Canada's WorkSafeBC, less than 5 Hours of Sleep or Staying Awake for Over 16 Hours Isn't That Different From Being Inebriated. Taking breaks in the form of naps or a quick meditation, can help us avoid those sluggish moods. Those moods can affect our creative flows and well, how are we supposed to get anything done on just a few hours of sleep?
Now, we can’t always avoid sleepless nights, but taking a micro-break for even a few minutes of shut eye can reverse the drawbacks of no sleep and/or sitting down for 8 hours or more a day.
Avoid the Burn Out
The high demands of our careers can turn us into work horses, but we can’t forget the importance of self care. More and more we hear about people “burning out” at work, and getting all stressed out is not worth it when you have families, friends, and yourself to think about. Burn out can affect your attention span and impair our ability to do more than work i.e. driving, memory retention, and more. Don’t be the latest victim of burnout, instead, walk away from the computer… LITERALLY do that right now. Go for a walk, ready book or magazine, sit and do nothing, for all I care, but give yourself a reset for even a few minutes.