Taking breaks. We all do it and we all know that we need to. No matter your business field or level, taking breaks is necessary in order to achieve maximum productivity (yes it’s backed by science, just read along). Most of us have been involved in work situations where colleagues work through lunch, stay late at the office and even continue working from home. Some organisations that do not incorporate modern management approaches regard this as an “exemplary work ethic”, however as we all are aware, taking a break can be essential to producing better quality work. According to a research by University of Illinois in 2008, the brain’s attentional resources drop after a long period of focusing on a single task – even short pauses could significantly increase someone’s ability to focus on that task for longer periods of time. So, have you been taking your much needed breaks all wrong? Read along to see some tips for taking effective breaks and maximise your productivity.
Usually, we reach for social media to distract ourselves from work when we feel like we need a break. Going through your Instagram or Twitter feed does work, however these activities do not really re-energise your brain, as stated by Andrew Deutscher, the VP of Business Development at The Energy Project. Leaving your desk to take a walk, even for a short while does indeed help your brain to recharge. According to British Journal of Sports Medicine, taking a walk decreases stress hormones that generally contribute to fatigue. This is also backed by Ph.D. David J. Linden in his article for Psychology Today, where he states taking a walk during your break will release serotonin and dopamine, which are hormones associated with increased mood and even memory!
According to the State of the American Workplace report in 2012, employees are less likely to experience burn-out if they have social ties in the workplace. So why not take your breaks with a fellow colleague? The communal areas at many office spaces are not just there by coincidence – at Us&Co we have coffee areas on each floor where you can take breaks with fellow co-workers away from your desks. Taking a break with your work friends, will help you to feel refreshed, relieved and ready to focus on your work while reducing stress and anxiety, as proven by a study of neuroscientists Panksepp and Watt in 2011.
The meaning of mindfulness can differ from one person to another – deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga or even minutes of idleness can make one person calmer and more mindful, while having no effect on another. A study published by the National Academy of Sciences in 2007 prove that meditating during your breaks helps lessen cortisol (stress hormone) in your brain and lower anxiety. Another finding is that certain meditation techniques can promote creative thinking, allowing you to find new solutions and perspectives when you get back to work. If you don’t know how to get started with meditation or need a little help to completely “get in the zone”, try an app like Headspace (available on iOS and Android) where you can find guided sessions even for when you have only 1 minute to meditate!
There is a reason why an average CEO reads 5 books a month. A study conducted in 2013 claims that reading fiction books during your breaks help increase your empathy while keeping your mind off work. This is a great win-win situation as heightened levels of empathy allows you to better understand your team and clients, as well as contributes to your leadership development. Supporting this, a team of cognitive neuropsychologists at University of Sussex found out that reading helps reduce stress levels by 68%.
Yes that’s true, According to a set of experiments conducted in Japan examining the effects of viewing cute images on task performance. Looking at cute photos can make you more productive! The study mentions that looking at pictures of kittens or puppies (or whatever you find cute!) makes you feel a nurturing love, resulting in your brain being more alert and active. So next time you are on a short break, don’t skip those cat videos.
At Us&Co, you can find the opportunity to take a break however you like – take a walk outside on the riverside or in the nearby greenspaces such as St Dunstan-in-the-East. Alternatively, make use of our breakout spaces located on each floor with your colleagues over a great cup of Mozzo coffee. Are you ready to take a look? Book your visit today.
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