Dr. Emi Garzitto
Redefining Work Breaks
Breaks can be used to improve workplace culture, support staff wellness and the building of resilience skills. If you need help trying to figure out what you should do, ask yourself, what is the opposite of what I am doing right now?
We have often thought of breaks as opportunities to stop work and refresh your mind. It used to be a time when staff would walk down to a cafeteria, canteen or coffee shop to grab a drink or a snack, or 'chat around a water cooler'. A break can be time to slow down, do nothing or ‘not work’. There is nothing wrong with this but we can expand the idea of a work break to support resilience, mental health and stronger workplace connections.
Breaks can be used to improve workplace culture, support staff wellness and the building of resilience skills. In terms of mental health, a break is a change of state so that means, if you are working on a computer, you take breaks to move your body and engage your big muscle groups (a very good thing to do for your brain!) Changing your state could be going outside to break your pattern of being indoors. Or maybe, you have been constantly working with a ‘to do’ list, so changing your state would be to stop, and do something that is NOT on your to do list.
What are ways in which you can take a break by changing your state?
Find the times in your day where you have natural lulls in your energy. Schedule opportunities to change your state. If you need help trying to figure out what you should do, ask yourself, what is the opposite of what I am doing right now?
If you are working alone, a break could be making a call, video chat, or face to face connection.
If you have been in an intense meeting, spending time alone outdoors for a few minutes will break the mental pattern.
The break does not have to be long. In fact, small, 3 minute interruptions will make a difference, and can refresh the body and the brain.
Breaks can be a tremendous tool in the workplace. Consider adding 3 minute pattern interrupts both at your virtual and face to face work places.