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Zoomed Out? Here Are 5 Tips for How to Take a Break From Work

We’ve seen many benefits over the last year as we’ve worked from home. No commute. No wasted time from idle office chit-chat. More time with family. And more productivity. (And our pets love it.)

However, it’s not all sunshine. There are drawbacks to working remotely, such as lack of a dedicated office space and less social interaction. 

Another drawback getting much attention? Never-ending Zoom meetings. 

In this article, we’re going to explore how to take a break from work, helping you to maintain a healthy work-life balance during a time where “work” can be at your kitchen table.

Zoom Fatigue: Real or Imagined?

Let’s be fair. It’s not just Zoom. But like Kleenex became the ubiquitous name for facial tissues, Xerox became the ubiquitous name for photocopies, and Google became the ubiquitous name for internet searches, well, Zoom has become (you guessed it) the ubiquitous name for video conferencing. 

According to a recent study by Stanford University, researchers identified four consequences of video conferencing, now known as “Zoom fatigue.” The consequences include:

  1. All that close-up eye contact is fatiguing, intense, and, often, anxiety-ridden.
  2. Video conferencing reduces our ability to stand or walk around during a meeting.
  3. We have to work harder to send communication signals during video chats than in person.
  4. And, let’s face it, it’s exhausting (and sometimes nerve-wracking) to stare at ourselves close up for hours upon hours. 

All of these consequences lead to pure exhaustion, outweighing other work from home benefits. One way to counteract these adverse effects?  Be intentional about taking breaks. 

Break Tip #1: Plan Breaks Ahead of Time

When you’re creating your daily to-do list, be sure to schedule breaks. Another way of finding how to take a break from work is taking time away from your screens. This is just as crucial as your 10:00 meeting (and your 11:00, 1:00, 2:30, and 4:00 meetings). 

However, to make sure you actually take a break, set an alarm on your phone or computer. Stand up, stretch your legs, grab another cup of coffee or a bottle of water, and let your body exhale. 

Need other ideas on what to do during your breaks?  Read on.

Break Tip #2: Move Away from Screens During Your Break

An ideal break is not trading one screen for another. In other words, don’t scroll through Instagram or Facebook on your break.  Although you’re moving to different content, you’re not moving away from a computer or smartphone screen time.

Use your break to do something non-screen-related. Do some stretches, loosening those muscles from desk work. Need to shower and change out of pj’s?  Use a break to do that. Grab some lunch, change the laundry over, unload the dishwasher. 

Break Tip #3: Get Outside

Piggybacking on Tip #2, use your breaks to get outside. Go for a walk. Sit on your porch and drink a cup of tea or coffee. Soak up some vitamin D. 

You can also use your break to combine exercise and the outdoors. Counteract the physical wear and tear sitting takes on your body. Go for a walk. Grab a quick run. Get that blood flowing with a change of scenery and watch your creativity and productivity soar. 

Break Tip #4: Take a Break in the Morning

We’re all familiar with the 3:00 slump.  That was with us even before the pandemic reared its ugly head. But instead of grabbing your 5th cup of coffee, schedule a break in the morning. 

A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that taking a break from work in the morning can prolong your productivity during the day. Waiting until 3:00 to walk away from your computer may be too late. More than likely, you’re too tired by that point and can only focus on administrative tasks. By taking a break mid-morning, you may find yourself more productive, even through that 3:00 witching hour.

Break Tip #5: Don’t Take a Break if You’re in the Flow

The flow of work refers to the “state of mind you achieve when you’re fully immersed in a task, forgetting about the outside world.” It is the utmost productivity achievement for many. When in the flow, you often feel in control and happy while enjoying increased productivity.

Since the flow of work doesn’t come every day, when it does come, don’t interrupt your flow with a break, even if it’s scheduled. Enjoy your flow. Get things done. And then take a break!

The bottom line? Any break – no matter how long – is better than no break at all. This is not about perfection. It’s about what’s best for you when you find yourself staring at your co-workers during a Zoom meeting. 

Understanding how to take a break from work is essential in today’s workday, filled with digital and video devices seemingly everywhere we look. Taking intentionally designed breaks can improve your engagement and job satisfaction. Imagine what it could do for the rest of your workforce?

Wanting to learn more about boosting your team’s workforce engagement? Contact Cangrade today.