Why You Should Be Taking Daily Health Breaks

Woman stretching at her desk

by Katie Ferraro


We live in a world where being “busy” is the norm, and if you’re not busy, then you’re lazy. Most of the time, we use it as a crutch. Have you ever stopped to think about how much time it takes you to complete a project? Chances are, it’s longer than you think thanks to the endless distractions around you. All of a sudden, being “busy” looks more like being inefficient.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m the queen of being busy. But with that distinction, I found that doing things like powering through breaks causes me to be more distracted, thus less productive. It’s a common theme I hear among my friends and coworkers. They wear the fact that they worked through lunch or stayed late to complete a project as a badge of honor. 

Most of the time, it’s because they weren’t protecting their “me” time, which is just as important inside the office as it is outside the office. I can tell you firsthand that safeguarding this time will be the best gift you can give yourself.

Create Good Habits

For me, this starts the minute I wake up. I intentionally charge my phone and leave my computer outside of my bedroom and dedicate the first hour of my day to being technology-free. Instead, I spend time doing things like journaling, stretching, meditating, reading and making myself a healthy breakfast to start my day. This is the best way I’ve found to ground myself for the day ahead.

Once my routine is complete and I feel ready to get the day started, I like to read a few digital newsletters like Morning Brew and the New York Times Morning Briefing while enjoying a cup of coffee. This sets me up to be informed on what’s happening in the world and gives me a nice boost.

Everyone’s routine is different — the key is to figure out what works best for you. My biggest piece of advice when developing your routine is to avoid anything that will thrust you into your day, or the things that trigger stress (like checking your inbox), the minute you open your eyes.

Take Your Breaks

In addition to starting your day with a solid routine, it’s also important to actually take breaks throughout your day. While it may seem counter intuitive, taking breaks amplifies your productivity. Think about it: How many times have you been knee-deep in a project only to realize you’ve been scrolling social media for the last 20 minutes? As humans, we’re simply not wired to produce for hours on end. And now that we’re inundated with screens, it makes the temptation to veer off course even sweeter.

For this reason, I also try to take breaks that don’t involve screens. Whether it’s a quick walk around the office, reading a physical magazine article, or a conversation with a friend or coworker, I do whatever I can to get away from my workspace for an extended period of time. Sometimes, I’ll even throw in a quick 10-minute workout circuit with things like squats, lunges, planks and sit-ups to really get my blood flowing. This practice gives my eyes and brain a break and allows me to make better decisions. I also will pull on a pair of compression socks during this time, which help boost the benefits of a quick lunchtime workout and help keep me feeling refreshed through the end of the workday.

Your Mental Health Will Thank You

After a while, failing to take breaks and disconnect will catch up to you. Being able to recognize the signs that you may be approaching burnout is so important. According to U.S. News, these signs include lack of focus, suffering relationships, physical signs of stress, lack of self-care and the feeling that you’re running on empty. Setting realistic boundaries, putting your phone down when you’re with family and friends, identifying the root of your stress and creating a plan to address it, sticking to your self-care routine — including meditation and some sort of exercise — and taking time away from work to completely unplug and relax will support you in keeping your mental health intact.

I get that this is sometimes easier said than done, but adding daily habits like these to boost your mental health will help you in the long run. Life is too short to be stressed out all the time, and at the end of the day, it’s not good for anyone.



Katie Ferraro is a writer and group fitness trainer in Los Angeles. When she’s not writing or at the gym, you’ll find her somewhere in the wilderness camping, hiking or backpacking.



References

Why You Need to Take More Breaks (And How To Do It) (Social Triggers) https://socialtriggers.com/why-you-need-to-take-more-breaks-and-how-to-do-it/


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