Do you struggle to step away from your desk during the work day? As working from home blurs boundaries between our personal and professional lives this less-than-ideal work habit seems to have grown more common during the pandemic. However, scheduling regular breaks can make you more productive. More broadly, it can help you see that you’re worth more than the work you do. And you get to know yourself better if you focus on taking care of yourself and identifying what brings you joy. You build a life that’s sustainable for you, one that’s not all about work. Here’s how to get better at it so you can enjoy the benefits.
Shift your mindset
Work on unlearning the belief that you need to “deserve” a break. Breaks don’t need to be earned. We can take breaks when we need them. Think beyond the parts of your brain that allow you to achieve focus and flow. Stepping away can benefit the parts of your brain involved in creativity, and allow you to return with fresh ideas. It can also help to see it as an opportunity to refuel, avoid burnout, and improve your productivity — basically, it’s an important part of the work.
Plan breaks ahead and set an alarm
For me, taking breaking breaks often requires more effort than just sitting and continuing to tap away at my laptop. To make it less daunting, I set up an alarm every hour so it reminds me that’s time to stretch my legs.
Have clear in mind WHAT you are going to do in those breaks.
Think about a break that revolves around something you enjoy, something you look forward to. Take a few minutes to stretch or do yoga. Make a cup of tea. Call a friend. Write a list of things that energise you and have it handy, as a reminder. Avoid activities that are actually energy draining, like mindlessly scrolling through social media. You could also do things you’d normally save until the end of the day – like the laundry, tidying up etc…, spread out in 5/10-minute blocks, so it doesn’t feel like you’re adding more to your day, you’re simply doing them at a different time.
Listen to your body
Our body in inherently smart and tells us when it needs a break. The problem is that we often ignore it. If you’re feeling antsy, grumpy or have a headache, it’s typically a sign that you need to step away from your desk.
Take a mental note of how you feel after you take a break as evidence you can refer to, say, during a busy week when you don’t think you have time for one. Reminding yourself of how much they’ve personally helped you can motivate you to take one.
At first, it might feel like it takes more effort to take a break than to keep working. But think of breaks as habits, which take time to form. After a while, it won’t feel as overwhelming to carve them out.
The secret is to be realistic about what’s expected of you. If you still need to work 10 hour days, ask how you can make your work day look and feel better. Start small. A break can literally be as simple as walking away from your desk for 5 minutes.
If you are looking for stretches to do in your break which can improve your posture check out THIS ARTICLE.