Just like taking a break when performing prolonged physical activity can revive the body and prevent injuries, taking a break for the mind can boost productivity.
By Swati Kapoor
We strive to excel in our professional life all the time. Simultaneously, we try to pull ourselves up when we are not at our best. Entrepreneurs face the challenge of exploring new ventures and providing the best opportunities to their employees.
Inconsistency in employee performance takes place not because of their incapability to outshine others, but due to the stress experienced when working without allowing the mind to relax. As a leader, it is important that you inspire your staff to practice healthy habits, and enhance their willingness to work and productivity simultaneously.
Just like taking breaks when performing prolonged physical activity can revive the body and prevent injuries, sufficient breaks for the mind can boost productivity.
The brain absorbs information and retains more when it is not overloaded with information. According to a study by the University of Illinois, the brain can perform better when diverted from a task once every hour for a couple of minutes.
You can introduce the following activities that your employees can perform individually.
- Make Them Pause and Look Away from the Screen. Most jobs involve working on computers, and even leisure time is spent watching television or using the smartphone. This may be true for your employees as well. This practice strains the eye muscles and keeps adding more information in the brain. It is necessary to snap out of work routine once in a while and engage in mind-relaxing activities. Resuming work after a break can revive employees’ energy and concentration. Your staff may feel guilty about taking breaks in the middle of their work. As a member of the management, however, you should encourage them to devise effective break routines individually and step away from their desks. Along with resting the mind, one can relax eye muscle by looking away from the screen for 20 seconds after every 20 minutes and observe objects kept 20 feet afar.
- Allow Them to Daydream and Snap. Sleep is one of the most relaxing activities for the mind. However, it isn’t always plausible for employees to sleep during work hours. Having sleeping pods or lounges within the business premises can work for employees who want to rejuvenate with a nap or to socialize. Employees who commute to work from afar can use this space to rest after traveling. Power naps can help invigorate their mind and relax their body after sitting for long hours.
- Let Them Take a Stroll. It is only natural for your employees to feel lethargic after spending several hours on the same task. Their mind requires breaks to restore its abilities. Also, prolonged sitting can hurt their back, neck and shoulder muscles, and strain other limbs as well. They will do well to move around and gently stretch their body muscles often to avoid straining them. They can revive their mind and body by taking a stroll in open space. You can suggest your employees to go for walks at the park around the corner as a respite from their routines.
- Get Them to Stay Hydrated. A report published by US National Library of Medicine states that mild or moderate dehydration in the body impacts cognitive performance. Dehydration by 2% can reduce performance in tasks that require attention, and the application of psychomotor and immediate memory skills. It is, therefore, essential that your employees keep themselves hydrated throughout the day. Health drinks and fruit juices can be introduced in the cafeteria to promote a healthy lifestyle at work. Staff can opt for these concoctions to increase their nutritional intake for the day. Even frequent walks to the water cooler can help straighten up the back and flex the muscles after sitting for a long time.
- Have Them Delve into Entertainment. In between tasks at work, encourage your employees to spend some time engaging in entertaining activities. When they do the things that interest them, they can reboot their minds and approach the next task enthusiastically. A reading room or even the conference room can be used by the employees to catch up on the latest books, or follow up on their favorite sports teams. One can even sit back and listen to music to get his/her mind off work. Music can lighten up their mood and help them concentrate better.
- Make Them Internalize the Energy. It is not always viable for employees to move away from the office desk in the middle of the work day. In such cases, they can meditate or sit quietly at the desk to relax. Meditation, even when practiced for a few minutes, helps control anxiety and calms an overactive mind. Alternatively, you can arrange for a place in the office where your workmates can practice deep breathing for 5 – 7 minutes. Doing so will help restore oxygen, normalize heart rate, and lower blood pressure. Mindful awareness methods are excellent ways to restore concentration and do not require logistical support. Derived from Buddhist tradition, this form of relaxation helps one intentionally focus on the present moment without judgement. The office can conduct sessions to practice these techniques, and help reduce the level of the stress hormone, cortisol in the body, thereby enhancing positivity in the mind.
People who work long hours without taking a break can hamper their overall productivity. This habit is likely to affect their mental and physical health as well. If you want your employees and star performers to continue to dole out excellent performance, then remember to make provisions for them to take adequate breaks. The above tips can help you with ways to introduce these breaks in your employees’ schedule do that they can enjoy a great professional life.
Swati Kapoor is a qualified dietician at Practo. She has a Masters degree in Dietetics and Food Service Management. She is a strong believer in spreading the goodness of ‘nutrition through healthy eating’. As a responsible dietician Swati examines her patients’ health history carefully before recommending any diet or workout regimen, because everybody has different requirements.