7 Things To Do During Your Work Breaks
After slaving away for hours, taking a break feels like a godsend, but when the time finally comes, some find that they don’t know what to do during this period.
Today, we’re going to go over some things that you can do during your breaks to boost your physical fitness and mental health.
Note: try to keep these activities limited to actual breaks, not while you’re on the clock unless you want your boss to give you a permanent break.
Watching YouTube videos is how I spend most of my work breaks. It’s not as beneficial to your health as the other items on this list, but it’s an enjoyable activity that fends off boredom and prepares me for another 52 minutes of work. Why 52 minutes? Here’s why.
I usually find myself watching comedic videos to interrupt the monotonous rhythm of hard work, but educational videos also make their way into my queue.
Watching educational videos will help you kill two birds with one stone by learning new things and recharging your batteries all at once.
The goal of a break is to take your mind off work, and nothing does that better than a good YouTube video.
Be sure to choose a video with a length that’s appropriate for the duration of your work break. Watching a video that’s slightly shorter than the total length of your break will ensure that you get back to work on time rather than being tempted to finish an hour-long Call of Duty montage.
2. TED Talks
TED Talks give you a chance to learn about virtually any industry from masters of the craft. Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Stephen Hawking are just a few of the high-profile personalities to speak at TED conferences.
Most TED Talks follow the 18-minute rule which makes them perfect for expanding your mind without spending too much time. You can even select your preferred duration when browsing videos on their website.
To check out some TED Talks, click here.
Some people believe that watching TV is an absolute waste of time, but there can be some upsides to staring at the good ol’ flatscreen. For one, watching TV can help you feel less lonely due to an effect called social surrogacy; which was examined in a study by the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.
Another benefit of watching TV during your breaks is being able to stay up to date with current events. There’s nothing more awkward than having to smile and nod while someone rants on about a recent executive order that you haven’t even heard about.
Much like YouTube, you can find educational programming on TV too. Spending some time on the Discovery Channel during your work breaks will ensure that you learn new things while unwinding. When you spend your work breaks watching educational programming, you’ll come back feeling both rejuvenated and smarter.
If you work at home, taking a nap could be a great way to spend your work break.
Research has shown that regular naps can reduce your odds of developing heart disease, and there are numerous short-term benefits too. The results you get will vary depending on the duration of your nap.
Short naps — also called power naps — lasting around 20 minutes can improve alertness and rejuvenate motor skills like typing; which is very useful for copywriters such as myself. Naps that last 30-60 minutes can help with memory and decision-making. On the longer end of the spectrum, 90-minute naps can completely refresh your mind and make it easier to solve creative problems.
If you don’t want to feel groggy, limit your nap to 30 minutes. Don’t drink coffee after waking up from your nap as it may negate some of the benefits.
Some people even use coffee as a substitute for naps, but caffeine can impair memory and increase the number of mistakes you make. Drinking coffee is like using a nitrous oxide engine but taking the steering wheel off your car.
Try to nap at the same time every day so that your brain gets used to the rigid schedule and doesn’t struggle to fall asleep/wake up. The ideal time to take a nap is between 1 PM and 3 PM.
While your regular phone timer may be sufficient, getting a specialized napping app like Tide can improve your microsleep experience.
The Tide app can play nature sounds to help you fall asleep then use a relaxing yet effective alarm to let you know that your naptime is up. To learn more about the Tide app, click here.
If you want to learn more about the various benefits of napping, check out this article on WebMD.
Meditation is a great way to relieve stress during your work breaks. I could write a whole post on the benefits of meditation, but I doubt you’d want to spend your work break reading that.
Since ancient times, meditation has been known to reduce stress, and a 2014 study — which included over 3,500 adults — conclusively proved that.
Meditation can also boost your attention span and make it easier for you to focus on one task without being distracted by another. Where push-ups increase the strength of your arms, meditation increases the strength of your attention.
An eight-week study conducted by the Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience scientific journal showed that meditation made it easier for the participants to maintain their attention.
This improved attention span will protect you from distraction and as a result, reduce the likelihood of procrastination.
It’s worth noting that mindfulness works best for relieving stress whereas focused meditation is the best path to improving your attention span. To learn about the different types of meditation, have a look at this article by Mindworks, creators of an app by the same name.
How long has meditation been around? Well, in his book A Clinical Guide to the Treatment of the Human Stress Response, renowned psychologist George S. Everly Jr. notes that there are written records of meditation going back as early as 1500 BCE.
You don’t even have to leave your office to meditate. Okay, trying to achieve inner peace may be quite difficult if you work out of a cubicle, but if you have your own office, you could meditate right then and there.
To learn more about the other scientifically-backed benefits of meditation, check out this article by Healthline. You can also check out this Healthline article to find a meditation app that’s right for you.
We’ve covered mental health, but how about physical fitness?
A 2018 study reaffirmed the fact that regular exercise is one of the best ways to reduce muscle loss and maintain your strength as you age. Another study showed that picking up exercise as a habit early on will build your bone density; reducing the odds of developing diseases such as osteoporosis later in life.
A separate study showed that regular exercise also increases your metabolic rate meaning you’ll burn calories faster and lose more weight; which can protect you from Type 2 diabetes, as is proven in this study.
Furthermore, a 2005 study showed that exercise boosts your energy; which is just what you need to survive the remainder of your workday after the break comes to an end.
But the benefits of regular exercise aren’t limited to physical fitness; it can have tremendous effects on your mental health too. A 2016 study showed that exercise relieves stress and improves your mood.
A 2010 study showed that even minor increases in the amount of time you spend walking each day lowers your blood pressure and significantly reduces the risk of heart disease.
Another study — comprised of 45 overweight and obese participants — measured the amount of weight loss after they began walking to their destinations instead of driving. 54% of the participants lost weight, with some losing as many as 23.2 pounds and others losing as little as one pound. The median weight loss for the participants was 5.5 pounds over an eight-week period.
A 2012 study showed that brisk walking for at least 150 minutes each week also resulted in lower fasting glucose levels; reducing your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes.
In the book Natural Prescriptions for Women: What to Do — And When to Do It — To Solve More Than 100 Female Health Problems — Without Drugs, it is said that walking for at least 30 minutes each day can boost your immune system and ensure you don’t have to go on sick leave.
The book Walking the Weight Off For Dummies stated that walking relieves stress by decreasing production of cortisol — the stress hormone.
Taking a walk also refreshes your mind, like tabs on a browser. When you go for a walk and enter a new environment, your mind reboots and resolves any errors in the process.
Remember, walking is a privilege, so use it.
There are plenty of things to do during your work breaks, and the seven items we covered in this article are just a few of the activities that can rejuvenate your mind, strengthen your body, and help you have fun while learning new things.
Breaks are a sacred relief from the daily woes of work, and they should be treated as such. Time is finite, so don’t squander this opportunity by wandering around aimlessly, make a plan and stick to it.