The 15-minute vacation from work

Quick ways to take a breather during the work day.

We’ve all heard of the mental health day. But we’re not always lucky enough to be able to take a full day off. That doesn’t mean that you need to give up the dream. Take your vacations where you can find them — in the middle of the day. Here are some ways to build a relaxing, 15-minute mini-vacation into any workday.

I’m tired

Solution: Naps

Are you cranky all the time at work? You may be sleep deprived. The average adult needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night, and 40% of all Americans get less than that amount. Not only does sleep deprivation negatively affect alertness and mood, it’s bad for your health, too.

The best way to make up for a sleepless night is to take a short nap. Increasingly, companies are acknowledging the value of napping at work. The optimal length of time to take a nap is 10 to 20 minutes — after that length of time, you’ll dip into deep-dream REM territory (rapid eye movement) and will be groggier when you wake up. While a deluxe nap room is best, any quiet room with a door will work — consider reserving a conference room. Need to make the case for nap time to your boss? Tell her that sleep deprivation costs employers $411 billion every year.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

I’m frazzled

Solution: Meditation

When your thoughts are racing like a hamster on a wheel, try meditating. Meditation is an ancient practice of quiet internal contemplation that has seen increased popularity in the last few years, and for good reason. Just 15 minutes of meditation has been shown to reduce stress and high blood pressure and improve focus. If you’ve never meditated before, there are numerous apps out there to help you get started.

I’m hurting

Solution: Massage

Sitting at a desk happens to be a superb way to develop back pain and neck pain. A chair massage in the office can be the ideal way to resolve the corporate aches and pains that develop as you sit at your desk — even 15 minutes can be enough to alleviate muscle pain. If you don’t have time to leave the office for a massage nearby, services like Zeel will bring a licensed massage therapist to your workplace. Or you can explore some self-massage techniques right at your desk.

I’m uninspired

Solution: Walking

If you find yourself lacking inspiration and passion, you may need a little exercise. Instead of staring at your brainwave-disrupting screen, go outside and take a brisk walk to get the blood flowing. Studies have found that a walk enhances creativity and mental energy. You might have heard of shower thoughts — moments of inspiration when you’re shut off from screens and distractions — walks can work the same way. No area to go for a walk in your building? Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

I need a change of scenery

Solution: Flowers and novelty

As anyone who’s taken a vacation knows, doing the same things in a new location can be surprisingly invigorating. Take the time to change your surroundings. This doesn’t have to mean booking a flight to Paris (thought this is certainly not a bad way to go).

Put some flowers or plants on your desk. Flowers can affect mood for the better, and are proven to provide a feeling of relaxation and comfort. Or switch things up. If you usually work in an office, try working in a coffee shop, outside, or even just go to a different room or couch. If you work at home, try an on-demand workspace, like Breather or a coworking space that allows daily drop-ins.

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