Take Effective Breaks
Combat fatigue, burnouts and stress while boosting productivity by enjoying sweet moments throughout your day.
There are many significant mental and physical health benefits to taking breaks throughout our day. Short activities with your family, friends, or solo lead to improved focus at work and increased productivity for all. While many would agree that they feel happier and rejuvenated after taking a nice break outdoors, spending time with friends, or taking time and intention to breathe and meditate, it is often easy to forgo these daily pauses when we are feeling overwhelmed or overbooked with obligations. Add environmental restrictions caused by a pandemic and poor air quality, and we may not even know how to take a break. The good news is studies report that the quality of a break is more important than the quantity of time spent on your breaks. So whether you have 15 minutes or 2 hours, the key to taking constructive breaks is to consciously step away from your work, virtual school learning, and life obligations in order to mindfully engage in activities that are known to make you and your family feel happier and more relaxed. While we all continue to navigate and adapt to unfamiliar challenges in our daily lives, why not give ourselves a few quality breaks throughout our day?
Tips for enjoying excellent breaks:
Include movement: Exercise energizes us during the day and helps us sleep better at night. Mentally, it lifts our mood (natural antidepressant) and improves focused work time (often the improved productivity caused by taking a movement break will make up for the time it took to take the break).
Connect with nature and breathe fresh air into your lungs. Spending time in nature is proven to reduce anxiety and stress. Even if you are in an urban area surrounded by hustle and bustle, just looking up at the sky can feel rejuvenating and calming. Exposure to sunlight helps increase productivity and can even improve your sleep. Kids who spend time outside have better health and social functioning skills.
Practice mindfulness: living in the moment allows us to feel calmer, more relaxed, and happier. It also helps us to engage and connect with others. Breathwork exercises, meditation, yoga, and physical activity are all ways to practice mindfulness.
Do things you and your family enjoy. Have fun! Laugh, play, be silly.
Short work & school breaks:
If you are working from home or helping your child(ren) with virtual learning, try setting up a break schedule. Aim to include a 5-15 minute break every 45-90 minutes. During the break, it is recommended that you stand up and walk away from your desk and smart devices “unplug” (at least for the majority of the break). During this time you may want to do some stretches or yoga poses, walk around the block, play outside, spend time with a four legged family member, practice deep breathing or meditation, engage in a 5 minute workout or make a healthy snack.
Family time breaks:
Dedicate time for family fun. Quality family time has been proven to improve self-esteem and behavioral well-being in children, as well as reduce stress. It creates bonds between family members, and it has the potential to lift everyone’s mood.
Have fun! If your kids are young, get down on the ground and play with them. If they are older, go on an adventure, play a game they like, or experience something new together.
Go outside (when available): take a walk together, play I-Spy around the neighborhood, go for a bike ride, a picnic, play a sport in the backyard or nearby park, play tag. If you are restricted to indoor spaces due to the pandemic or environmental factors, then check out our previous blog Getting Children Movement.
Plan a “taco night”, “pizza night”, “sushi night”, or “pancake night”: Dinner with the whole family is special, but adding a theme makes it more exciting and gives kids something to look forward to. When there are recurring themes kids can play a bigger role in preparing the food because they will remember steps from the last time.
Go to the movies at home: make popcorn and serve it in DIY theater boxes and splurge on a little movie candy.
Family game night: board games, card games, spoons, Heads Up!, charades, pictionary.
Camp in the backyard, roast marshmallows, go stargazing, have a dance party.
Self-care is important. Our health and inner well-being is crucial for an individual and for that of the entire family.
Nurture and love yourself. Check in with your feelings and take care of yourself the way you would someone you love. Remind yourself that you’re doing great and that these are challenging times.
Take a break from your family in order to nurture yourself and recharge: Have your spouse or trusted child care provider watch the children while you take a long bath or a quick walk or drive around the block.
Go for a jog, hike, bike ride, or take part in an online workout or yoga video in your home. If childcare is unavailable, put the baby in a stroller or jog beside your child as they ride their bike and take advantage of the benefits for all.
Spend time with a friend or a group of friends. Grab a coffee at an outdoor café or connect with another parent.
Breathe: breathing helps you to calm down your nerves. To start, find yourself in a comfortable position (sitting tall or lying flat), take a deep slow inhalation through your nose, pause, then exhale slowly out your nose. Repeat for at least one minute.
Practice meditation and mindfulness: there are SO many resources out there. 5-10 minutes can make a big difference in how you feel physically and emotionally.
Read a few pages from a good book or your favorite magazine.
Make it easier on yourself. Build it into your routine, set timers, or use apps to remind you or to guide you. We love these ones...
7 Minute Workout