A New Break Is Not a Waste of Time!

by Scott Crabtree

When was the last time someone gave you a break? How about the last time you gave yourself a break? And how recently have you done something new with a hiatus? The answers may be affecting your happiness, and therefore your success. That’s right: you can become more successful by taking frequent and effective downtime.

Mix Up Your Routine

As we’ve described in detail in a previous post, science is clear that breaks are beneficial.

Research also suggests that when it comes to choosing more happiness in your life, variety counts. A study by Acacia Parks, Sonya Lyubomirksy, and others found that you will get more happiness from doing six different activities during a week, for example, than the same activity six times in a week.

So we want to combine these findings, and suggest some new kinds of breaks for you. We hope that the following six ideas offer creative ways to take a respite:

6 New Ways to Take a Break

We suggest you pick whatever feels most appealing at this moment. Or — since we’re all about gamification at Happy Brain Science — how about rolling a die and letting luck decide? Whichever option you choose, please put it into action right away, then share in the comments how it went. (The following are solutions from our card game and learning tool Choose Happiness @ Work. We think they speak for themselves, but of course we welcome any questions in the comments or on social media.)

Bust a Yoga Move! Whether your post is cobra, dolphin, and/or downward dog, do at least a bit of yoga. Because yoga can provide exercise, mindfulness, and flow, all of which are good for thriving at work.     Celebrate: Celebrate the accomplishments and wins of your colleagues and team. Because being there for each other in good times is a great way to build relationships. Celebrating boosts both mood and relationships.

Visualization Micro-Break: Close your eyes and picture a favorite spot, or yourself performing an activity you do really well. Because visualization triggers relaxation and reduces stress, helping many of us get into a better space to do our best work.     Walking Meditation: When walking, try to let thoughts go and simply focus on how your feet feel. Because, in studies, meditation is linked with better self-control, health, stress management, and happiness.

4-6-8 Breath: Breathe in as much as possible for 4 seconds. Hold that breath for 6 seconds. Exhale for 8 seconds. Because this slow breathing triggers a relaxation response, helping you manage stress for best brain function.     Random Act of Kindness: Perform a random act of kindness such as leaving the change in a vending machine or buying a colleague a coffee. Because being kind boosts your mood.

Of course, you might have other great suggestions in mind. Don’t be limited by these six options if they don’t feel right for you. Maybe you want to climb a tree, invite a colleague to play a game, or start break dancing!

Really, you deserve a breather!

We seem to be in a busyness contest lately. We brag about how busy we are, and how hard we are working. And yet, too many of us are miserable and not as productive as we might like.

The irony is that those who give themselves a break end up being more successful, creative, and resilient. I hope you’ll choose to get off the device you’re reading this on right now and try one of the tips we provided (or one of your own). And then I hope you’ll come back to let us know what you did and how it went.

Personally, as soon as this blog post is complete, I’m going to go walk around the block, try to make eye contact, and smile to whomever I encounter. If I see you around, I hope you smile back!