If your eyelids start drooping by two o’clock during your workday, your routine may need a tune-up. Research shows intentional work breaks have proved imperative to productivity and overall health. You may find they help to refuel your creativity and stamina while combating work-related stress and fatigue. Regarding your particular office protocol of when, and how many work breaks are encouraged throughout the day, consult your employee handbook for specific recommendations. Some offices allow 30 minutes for lunch and two 15 minute breaks spread throughout the day. Others may allot an hour for lunch that can be split up to include a few additional 5 minute breaks. Use your best judgment and observe the company culture as you develop a routine that works best for you.
Practice these 5 brain-benefit habits during your mini downtime:
Walk with nature.
Enjoy the green spaces – parks, trails, and trees. The sunshine is known to stimulate an increase of serotonin, a neurotransmitter scientists connect with happiness. Nature saturates us with a sense of calm. The effect works indoors, too. If you gaze out the window, and find the harsh skyline of skyscrapers cold and uninviting, invest in a desk plant to bring the outdoors back inside.
Energize with a light snack.
Choose revitalizing foods and drink such as berries, seeds and nuts, avocados, yogurt, tea, coffee, and dark chocolate (in moderation!). Foods to avoid include candy, sugary sweets, soda, energy drinks, and chips.
Walk for 5-30 minutes.
One study found that 30 minutes of midday walking 3 times a week, helped employees’ moods, motivation, productivity, and increased their work performance. Walking gets the blood pumping and stress-reducing endorphins to start firing on all cylinders. Mindlessly daydream while you stroll. Those “aha” moments often hit us when we’re occupied with something completely unrelated to work. These epiphanies come as a result of your brain taking a short vacation. After you return to your desk, you will have a heightened sense of enthusiasm.
Jot down your thoughts.
Take a few minutes to make a list of items (both personal and professional) that require problem solving. If you find yourself worrying about a current challenge, allow yourself the creative liberty to brainstorm several possible solutions. What would the good, great and ultimate breakthroughs look like? Start with any number of helpful writing prompts to get your pen flowing.
Isolate or connect?
Follow your mood. If retreating inside your own head is what you need, or a brief lively chat with a co-worker would rejuvenate you instead, choose your favorite approach. Both increase efficiency and will help you re-boot with a fresh outlook. Take these much-needed moments to regain mental and physical energy, while restoring your focus and work efficiency.
For more of my work related tips, read my article on The Huffington Post, Business Etiquette: Handling Office Distractions.