Even if you love your job, some days just seem to drag on forever! Time seems to pass in slow-motion at work, and you may find that only two minutes have passed between each glance at your watch, while when you’re at home in bed hours pass in what feels like just a few seconds!
Who isn’t guilty of giving themselves a small break to help make the work day more bearable, whether it’s with your colleague at the coffee machine to discuss the last episode of The Walking Dead, or hidden in the bathroom with your cellphone?
Recognize yourself in these situations? Don’t be embarrassed; it’s normal and even recommended to step away from your work so that you can re approach it with renewed energy. If you lack inspiration on how to give yourself a breather during your work day (which I doubt!), here are some ideas…
TIME SPENT AT WORK
Did you know that you spend around 12% of your life at work? Assuming that you live to be 80 years old, 10 years of your life, equal to 3,650 days or 90,000 hours, will have been spent at work! Depressing, isn’t it? However, don’t despair; at the start of the century, the average person spent 40% of their life at work (32 years). It goes without saying that back then, nobody went to happy hour! As for all of your other daily activities, 31% of your time (25 years) is spent sleeping, 5% (4 years) eating, 6% (5 years) doing the housework, 0.4% (4 months) getting ready (this applies more to women than for men), and 1.25% (around one year) being sick….
Even if the time spent at work has decreased in recent years, its quantity and intensity have increased due to technological advances (hyperconnectivity). Since you’re forced to spend your prime years at work, you should at least have a job that you enjoy (and if you don’t, why don’t you go take advantage of all the services neosjob.com has to offer?).
IT’S NOT ME WHO SAYS I SHOULD, IT’S MY DOCTOR
Don’t forget that by virtue of being human, your energy and capacity for concentration are limited. On average, an individual can focus on one given task for a 90-minute period. After that, they start to become distracted. It’s at that time that taking a break becomes necessary to help clear your mind and recharge your batteries before getting back to work.
“Taking a break allows us to refocus our thoughts, come back with more energy, and disconnect from the task at hand so that we can return to it later with a fresh approach.”*1
According to doctors and the notable Maude Villeneuve, expert in the psychology of work, breaks are good for employees’ mental health (less stress), moods (less fatigue), workplace satisfaction, and productivity (because a happy employee involves themselves more deeply in the company!). Breaks have positive effects on both the general ambiance of the office, the efficiency and feeling of accomplishment of all employees, and the results of the company. What else could you ask for?!
“Taking regular breaks (…) reduces stress, fatigue, and the risk of mistakes… A break is therefore not a whim but rather an investment!”*2
TO EACH THEIR OWN BREAK
There are two types of breaks: those that are “regulated” and those that are informal but just as necessary. Here’s a glimpse at the different kinds:
The bathroom break
An inescapable classic. One thing is sure: no one will come bother you. You can stay there longer than necessary to daydream, check your social media, send texts, make a personal phone call…. In short, make doing your business fun!
The cigarette or coffee break
Alone or with others, these breaks can allow you to leave the office and talk with your colleagues about everything and nothing (hopefully not about work!) while getting your daily dose of caffeine or nicotine.
The gossip break
You probably have a colleague you get along with really well and who you tell every detail of your life, including your failed romantic date the night of the final episode of your favorite show. Setting aside a moment to talk with them will bring you back to your childhood, when you would spend hours chatting with your best friend on the telephone.
The meditation break
Put in your headphones, choose some relaxing music, close your eyes… that’s all there is to it! Nothing exists anymore and you can recenter your thoughts for a few minutes.
The meal break
When lunchtime rolls around, take the time to eat and give yourself a real moment to relax over your meal, whether it’s for 30 minutes or one hour. Try, whenever possible, to not eat while working or while thinking about what you have to do after.
The geek break
It could happen at any time during the day, at your workstation, or on your cell phone as long as you have wifi. In general, cat videos are very successful in this arena. Don’t forget that laughing is one of the best ways to take a break. It relaxes you and you might even have a chance to bond with your colleagues!
The super short break
Sometimes, doing nothing for 5 to 10 minutes is just enough to clear your mind, let go of stress, think about nothing, lower the seat of your wheelie chair, and daydream while looking out the window.
The nap break
Easier for some of us than others, the nap break is an excellent way to recharge your energy for the rest of the day. More and more companies now provide rooms specially designated for naps. If yours doesn’t have one, consider getting an “ostrich pillow,” which covers your hands and your head and lets you nod off undisturbed, even at your desk.
The Game Break
If your company supplies gaming equipment, you might as well enjoy it! Give yourself a Street Fighter, foosball, ping pong, or pool break! Whatever you choose doesn’t matter; the idea is to just take a creative and fun break and pull back from your work in a fun way.
As you’ll come to see, taking a break is essential for both your health and the health of your company. So think about bringing up the subject with your boss.
It pays to be a good company to work for!
*1 et 2 A thoughtful word from Stephanie Chretien: Breaks at work : simple and necessary