When the pandemic hit, many had to resort to working from home—which started out as a dream come true but soon turned out to not be the fairytale we had in mind. It soon became apparent that the combined living and workspace meant 100% hustle and for some, the inability to disconnect.
This lifestyle is unsustainable. There is no way to keep up with 100% capacity all the time. Breaks are not just an escape, but a necessity. When done properly, they can reduce mental fatigue, help you to focus better and even boost brain function and creativity. In fact, the more time you spend resting, the better you are able to work.
Here are some science-backed tips to help you maximise your breaks.
Take a break every 52 minutes
Concentration and focus are the ultimate weapons for productivity. Taking a break can help!
Why does this work?
1. When you know you have a break coming up, you are more likely to stay focused and work effectively
2. Beyond 52 minutes of working, your mind starts to wander which results in you being less engaged with the task you’re working on
3. Your body is not meant to sit for 8 hours. Standing up and moving regularly doesn’t just improve your health, it helps your mental focus too.
Distract yourself to recharge your focus
Research shows that continuous intense focus can end up causing you to be less focused in the long run. Your brain will stop registering sights, sounds, and feelings when thoughts remain consistent for too long. The key is to distract yourself with something else instead of still thinking about that task on hand.
Get a breath of fresh air
While it makes sense to stay indoors to get everything done, going outside to get a breath of fresh air can have huge benefits. Studies show that exposure to sunlight and fresh air can alleviate mental fatigue and restore your mind.
Give your mind the right fuel
Oftentimes, we take breaks when our bodies tell us we need to—which is more often from hunger or the need for coffee. Having a consistent level of glucose in your blood helps your brain work at peak performance. Opting for small servings that include higher levels of protein will keep your energy and focus levels up.
Protect your eyes
Reducing eye fatigue is as simple as 20-20-20 -- looking away from the screen every 20 minutes to something at least 20 feet away for a minimum of 20 seconds. Here are other ways to protect your vision:
1. Dim your lights and ensure your computer screen is the brightest thing in the room
2. Reduce glare with an anti-glare screen protector and clean your screen regularly
3. Make your workspace more eye-friendly with a more ergonomic setup
Take a walk or hit the gym
Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce fatigue, boost energy and increase productivity throughout the day. Start off with some simple 7-minute workouts or simple yoga stretches. Even better if you put your phone on silence during the workout time.
Sit still and let your mind wander
While everything else helps you replenish your energy, doing nothing is equally beneficial to your mental health. While meditation can help reduce anxiety and stress while increasing your willpower to help you focus, not everyone is up for meditation. Doing nothing, or letting your mind wader has similar benefits. In fact, letting yourself zone out may help you come up with even more creative responses.