Tagline: Cliché 1: Good things come in small packages. Cliché 2: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Secret work tip: Combine the two.
Most stress management tips suggest that you take time out between work tasks so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. But it often becomes impossible to squeeze in a proper break when you are rushing from one deadline to another.
What you can do, however, is make the most of short time gaps that open up during your work day. With a bit of effort and a smidgen of creativity, here’s how you can put your mini breaks to good use:
- All who wander are not lost: Get off that chair and take a walk around the office. Look at the way the cubicles are lit up. Notice the skin on your colleague’s laptop. Take note of where the carpet is worn and the glass door is smudged. Not only with the walk give you an energy boost, letting your mind wander aimlessly for a few moments can be a great way to refresh the brain.
- A piece of inner peace: Do a quick 3-minute deep-breathing exercise. Close your eyes to the office world and shift your focus inward. Follow your breath as it moves in and out of your body. Deep breaths infuse your body with an extra shot of oxygen, helping calm your frayed nerves. While you’re at it, add a stretch to also relax your neck and back muscles.
- Eyes of the beholder: Take a moment to look out the window. Look for a leafy tree or an interesting car. Observe a flowering creeper climbing onto a wall or enjoy watching a dog playing in the mud. A brief look outside can re-connect us to the bigger picture and remind us of a life outside the office. This can also be a quick way to relax your eyes by focusing on something other than the laptop screen.
- Food for thought: A hungry body makes for a starved mind. If you feel your tummy rumbling at an odd hour, try munching on a fruit. Ignoring hunger pangs will only leave you irritated, distracted and, well, hungry! Apples, pears and bananas are some easy-to-carry, healthy quick bites that you can pop into your bag when you leave for work.
- A friend indeed: Use the 3-minute walk to the meeting room to call up a friend or family member, preferably someone cheerful. Check on how they’re doing and share a moment from your day; maybe make a plan to meet after work. Looking forward to something can help you get through a hectic work day.
- When in doubt, clean: Use time gaps to clear your desk of messy papers or to sort your emails into appropriate folders. A clutter-free environment relieves the mind of the extra task of dealing with chaos, making you more productive. Putting things in order can also be calming and can give you a greater sense of control. However, make sure you don’t get so caught up in cleaning up stuff that actual tasks get left behind.
- Laughter, the best medicine: Sneak a peek at the forwarded jokes on your Whatsapp timeline. A little, actual laughing out loud can do wonders for your mood and bring in a rush of adrenaline, getting you ready to take on the next task with a smile.
Never underestimate the power of a mini break.