The eight hour workday became the norm after the Ford Motor Company found that number resulted in maximum productivity at its factories. But there is a major problem with this: the idea of an eight-hour day with a short lunch break is based on the most effective formula for physical labor, not mental work and certainly not creative mental work. One of the best ways to recharge is to engage in something different.
Here are five other ways to give your brain a break during your workday:
1. Take a moment to do something you love. Take advantage of what’s at or near your office. Being fully engaged in an activity lifts the mood and contributes to feelings of overall well-being.
2. Get in touch with nature. Being outside activates different brain regions than sitting inside, as most of us do for the majority of our workday. Simple ways to incorporate nature include taking a walk in a nearby park or regularly having lunch outside.
3. Be physically active. Company-sponsored yoga classes and in-office gyms are becoming increasingly common, with good reason. Exercise is good for our brains. If you can’t get in a full workout, don’t fret: stretching for five minutes or even using a standing desk makes small changes that can spur creativity and recharge your batteries.
4. Nap. I’ll admit that this is the hardest to do in a typical office environment, but if you can find a way, the benefits are huge. Some offices actually have sleeping pods, but for those that don’t, slip out into your car for a power nap. Much of what happens in the brain while we sleep is still unknown, but what is certain is that people perform better in terms of memory and concentration after a nap.
5. Do nothing. If a snooze isn’t possible, then simply sit in a quiet place and allow yourself to relax for ten minutes. Just as when sleeping, important mental processes occur when we daydream.
Brain breaks can make a big difference in your ability to be productive, creative, and innovative. The paradox is that doing less often allows you to do more.