Earlier this week, Kimberly mentioned the importance of using personal days to take trips or otherwise indulge in life outside of AmeriCorps from time to time. After all, we’re given personal days for a reason, right? Throughout the past year, I’ve been pretty terrible at utilizing the other time I can be using for myself: the break. I always pack my lunch and tend to graze anyhow, so I’ve found it to be easier and more efficient to just eat at my desk as I do my work. Before the winter struck, I was pretty adamant about taking a nice walk in the sun, but I’ve been spotty at best about doing that over the past few months. Study after study has shown, however, that taking the occasional break greatly improves our productivity, not to mention our sanity! So, what can one do in a fifteen or thirty minute break?
After sitting at my desk for a few hours, I for one start feeling tension in my back and shoulders and often get restless just being inside (especially with the glorious sun we’ve been experiencing!). Our VISTA Program Manager Linda Kokenge once taught the support team about chair yoga which can be done at work, and I’ve channeled that idea several times this year. Check out this 20 minute yoga routine, a series of videos from the Mayo Clinic on office stretches, or these Chinese holistic health exercises for the office. You might get some strange looks if you don’t have an office with a door, but some great stretches can definitely set the tone for a great afternoon.
I’ve also used breaks to do things that I’d normally cram into my already-packed evenings. Need to create a grocery list? Bring the fliers in on Wednesday morning and look them over on a break If you can hit the grocery store on the way home, too it makes that whole shopping experience considerably less painful. I also find it helpful to write a to-do list for the evening, just to get things off my mind so I can concentrate better in the afternoon. I often also try to get some exercise in, but I’ve not quite figure out how to fit that in to a limited time and still be presentable for the rest of the day. Even in fifteen minutes though, you should be able to walk a good .75 miles or get in dozens of pushups, jumping jacks or crunches. Again, you might get some funny looks if you share office space but you also might find a new break buddy!
Regardless of what you decide to do, enjoy yourself! Try taking meaningful breaks every day for a week and chances are you’ll feel more relaxed, more productive, and more ready to take on the world.