Work-from-home breaks—they’re kind of weird, right? For those who are used to working from an office (like us on the FitJoy team), the lines between home and work life can certainly disappear during this time spent social distancing. We all know by now that we should take breaks. But with the many distractions surrounding us, it can be hard to feel productive enough to actually take breaks when needed, and when we do, they often don't even feel like a respite.
Here are some tips we’ve come up with to help you get the most out of your breathers and, by extension, your working hours. First establish when, how often, and how long these breaks should be. Then focus on the quality of these moments, because how you use them can really make or "break" your day.
Know when to reset
Figure out the time of day it most behooves you to take a break. In his book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, Daniel H. Pink describes three periods of energy we experience throughout the day—a peak, a trough, and a gradual rising to stable energy. When these occur differs for everyone—for instance, a night owl will have a different trough period than an early bird. Once you discover when your trough periods are, you can build your workday around those times to optimize your productivity.
During your trough, or the period in which you typically feel sluggish and distracted and notice that you haven’t really gotten any substantial work done—that’s a great time to take a break if you’re able, so you’re not just slogging through work. Instead of fighting your circadian rhythm, embrace this as your time to meditate, flip through a magazine, or walk around the block to reset.
If you’re not able to structure your day around your energy levels, try simply taking shorter breaks throughout the day, every 90 minutes if possible.
And then there’s the 20-20-20 rule for digital eye strain—look away from your screen every 20 minutes at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. You may have to set alarms for yourself in order to commit, but it'll pay off at the end of your day when your head doesn’t hurt so much. And if you have a baby or a young child, you won’t need alarms—you know that these breaks in your concentration will no doubt come naturally!
Don’t try to cram in chores
Think about it—when you used to take breaks from work at an office, you likely weren’t emptying a dishwasher or doing laundry. Instead, maybe you were walking across the street to a coffee shop or taking a few minutes to chat with a coworker.
So don’t try to cram all of your chores into your WFH breaks, unless it’s a chore that you really relish. While it’s nice to feel productive, your breaks ought to feel like actual breaks.
Parents, you get a free pass on this! Having double or triple the chores and with kids at home, do those chores throughout the day and catch those restful moments whenever you can. But if your kids are old enough, try to combine some of these chores with the following (for instance, can you take that task outside as you do it?) and never feel bad about asking for help.
Connect with something that’s alive
It’s especially important during social distancing to use your breaks from internet work to connect with something that’s actually alive. Water your plants, walk your dog, hug your spouse/roommate/kid, observe the birds outside your window, or call your grandma. Taking breaks from the workday to check in with other lives can remind us about the bigger picture, help lower blood pressure, and channel some much-needed love into working hours!
Make yourself a joyful snack
Did you know you may actually be burning calories by thinking hard while you work? It’s good to recharge with a snack here and there to power your engine! If you’re the type to graze all day as you work, there’s nothing wrong with that, but if you’re not focused on the foods you’re eating, you might not be enjoying them as much.
And while it’s tempting to grab the same old carrots and hummus or bag of chips each time you go to the store, switch it up a little so that you aren’t eating the same exact thing week after week. You don’t want your workday snacks to be lackluster reminders of boredom. They should be refreshing! Switch up your dips, explore different types of produce, and take advantage of all the healthy snack pairings there are out there these days, like our grain-free Himalayan pink salt pretzels with beet hummus or some sunflower seed butter!
Ditch the computer screen for some sunscreen
We think about this a lot...
If you can help it, don’t just switch from screen to screen! Go outside or stick your face out the window if you can. Our bodies seriously need vitamin D right now—it’s essential for immune function AND helps boost your mood. Put your face in the sun for 10 or 15 minutes and soak in the good vibes and fresh air. But first put on sunscreen—obviously.
So while it’s likely a bit ambitious to try and fit in a yoga session, a sunny walk, a loving connection, and an exciting snack into every day’s worth of breaks, just try to cover all of these bases we mentioned a couple of times a week, and you'll be surprised what a difference it can make.