Today, many of us have blended work and home lives and feel busy all through the day. When we do get breaks, they are short. Often too short to feel rested and ready to continue working.
When we have short breaks for lunch or a quick breather, it is essential that we make the best use of them. Done correctly, a short break can change how you feel in very little time and keep you productive for the rest of the day. Let’s look at ways to optimize your breaks and get more out of them.
Avoid social media
We often reach for social media as soon as we have a little time because it feels like it can give us a much-needed break. The updates from friends, funny videos, and other interactions promise to make us feel good.
However, there are numerous studies that show that social media usage leads to stress and depression.
As tempting as it may seem, using social media when you have a short period of rest will make you feel worse and not better. When you do have a short break, try any of the other suggestions here but make sure that you avoid social media altogether.
Anchor yourself to present through breathing
It may seem like recommendations to breathe deeply are overdone, however, the truth is that breathing exercises work.
If you have just a five-minute or two-minute break between long hours of work, it’s important to use those minutes well.
Being aware of the present moment will ground you to reality and dismiss thoughts of frustration and anxiety. And taking deep breaths forces you to focus on your body which exists in the here and now.
Doing meditation and taking deep breaths will let you withdraw your thoughts and attention from negative feelings. You’ll feel more grounded and oriented towards the present and this will help you work more productively.
Do a physical activity
Just like breathing or meditating, doing a physical activity within a short time frame can pull you from obsessive thoughts and compel you to pay attention to your body.
Taking the stairs, going for a walk, or doing a short workout program can increase your blood flow and also help your brain release dopamine. The effect is to change your mood and leave you feeling more positive. Perhaps even giving you a second wind that pushes you through the rest of the day.
Read a book
We’ve looked at a few ways that involve physical movement and actions to make your break more relaxing. Another powerful way to make the best use of a break is to read a book. This is substantially different from social media content as the material in a book is more complex and is meant to be thought-provoking.
The ‘best’ social media posts, i.e. the ones that get the most views and engagement, work by triggering strong emotions in a short period of time. They keep you hooked on and continuously scrolling for further content.
A book is different since it can inform you. It also sets a background, examines characters and situations to teach important lessons. Using your short break to read and think can give your mind a break by transforming you to a different ‘location’ and by giving you something uplifting and useful to think about.
Having long and relaxing breaks are not frequent treats that we get during a long day of work. We often have to make do with short breaks. And this makes it all the more important to use the moments you have wisely.
The tips laid out here are practical, easy to follow, and when applied will help you make the best use of your time. You’ll feel refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of your work with energy and a positive mindset.