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  • March 08, 2023 5 min read

    It's been said time and time again and not just by us: if we want to continue being our best selves while doing whatever we've set out to do, we must take breaks. Whether it's for boosting productivity, enhancing creativity, or simply maintaining your mental health, there's no shortage of advice on why we should all be taking regular breaks throughout the day.

    But with the variety of opinions and approaches out there, it can be tough to know what works when it comes to taking a break effectively. Should you go for a quick nature walk or take a longer break to read a book or maybe catch up with a friend? Is it better to take a break at a scheduled time during the day or let your body and mind dictate and guide you?

     

    What kinds of breaks are the best?

    Believe it or not, taking the wrong kind of break—or taking a break at the wrong time—can end up doing more harm than good on how productive and efficient you'll be for the rest of the day! So what kinds of breaks are ideal? Which ones can help with mental focus and against fatigue, or have huge benefits?

     

    Active 

    Unfortunately, research suggests that scrolling through social media isn't an effective way to take a break. To enhance cognitive abilities longer, consider activities that keep you on the move. Boost energy by going for a walk or doing some light exercise if you can—rest doesn't mean sitting down and doing nothing!

     

    Nature

    Research shows that spending time in nature can both help our mental health and sharpen our cognition. It can also help reduce stress, improve our mood, and restore our attention, all of which are ideal so that when we go back to what we're doing, we have the mental energy needed to stay productive. So go to a nearby park to take a break or simply sit outside and enjoy the fresh air.

     

    Social

    Taking a break to socialize with friends or colleagues can be beneficial too! It's a great way to recharge and boost your mood. Plus, social interaction helps nurture a feeling of belonging and provides you with an avenue to share your experiences. This helps you feel more recovered after a break.

     

    Mindful

    The work that we do can get tiring and, sometimes, the cognitive strain can be too much. However, we don't always have the liberty to step away from what we're doing. Practicing mindfulness activities like meditation or deep breathing exercises can help because it's a way to clear your mind, lower your stress levels, and refocus your attention.

     

    Creative

    Take a break to do something creative that engages a different part of your brain, such as drawing, writing, or even playing an instrument. Not only is it a great way to relax and distance yourself from what you're doing, but it also allows you to return to your work with a fresh perspective.

     

    We've put together a list of eight effective activities you can try so that you can stay creative and productive! Take a look below.

     

    1. Do some light stretching during short breaks.

    Effective breaks, especially active ones, don't mean an all-out Zumba session! Light stretching can help maximize productivity by alleviating mental fatigue. This is because as you stretch your muscles, you help reduce the tension in your body which then improves blood flow to your brain. This is especially important to do for most of us who spend the whole day seated, often in front of a computer.

     

    2. Give yourself a proper break by playing a game.

    This is one way to distract yourself while also recharging your focus! Engage in a quick puzzle or a card game to help improve your cognitive function and provide a mental break from work. Your brain remains active and focused but, at the same time, you're also able to de-stress.

     

    3. Alleviate mental fatigue by taking in the great outdoors!

    As far as effective breaks go, this one is especially relaxing!

    Bask in the sun, enjoy the breeze, and surround yourself with nature. The change in scenery can do wonders for your mental state and creativity, and you'll feel more refreshed as soon as you get back to work.

    This is also your chance to do something creative or practice mindfulness while you're outside!

     

    4. Fuel up with a healthy snack.

    It's normal to experience energy level dips across your day, which is why it's important to fuel up with food! Since it can affect our energy and mood, which has an impact on how well we do our work, it's also important we choose what to snack on and when without negatively affecting our health.

     

    5. Take a break from the screen.

    If the majority of your work involves staring at a screen for long periods, it's vital to rest your eyes. Stand up, stretch, and focus on something else for a few minutes, like looking out the window or organizing your workspace. Here are some useful tips from WebMD on how to prevent digital eye strain.

    A note that, of course, nothing beats a healthcare professional when it comes to taking proper care of your eyes.

     

    6. If you can, do your hobbies during break time.

    Doing something you enjoy, like reading a book or playing an instrument, can provide you with a mental break from work-related tasks. It also minimizes stress levels by helping you relax while still providing creative stimulation. As the saying goes, all work and no play make Jack a dull boy. Give yourself some time to do something you like too!

     

    7. Practice gratitude.

    Being grateful for what we have in our lives is a break well spent! A study suggests it can help with mental health, and another correlates it with feelings of happiness. These are ideal mental states for us to have if we want to be productive and efficient in what we do. It doesn't even need to be complicated and you can do it anywhere.

     

    8. Connect with others.

    When work gets frustrating and difficult, taking breaks with others can be helpful. Research suggests it has a positive effect on work—and why wouldn't it? As humans, we're social creatures by nature. By being able to share a burden during trying times, or enjoyment when things are going right, we build a sense of camaraderie with others that help lift our mood. It's a great way to re-energize!

     

    So which breaks are best for you?

    This is by no means a complete list, just a few things that we found have worked for us and made our breaks truly effective. There are so many more ways to take effective breaks out there—it's a matter of finding the best ones that will work for you, your circumstances, and the type of work you have.

    What other types of break activities do you engage in to keep yourself focused and productive throughout the day? Share it with us in the comments, we'd love to hear from you!

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