Lunch Break Leisure: 10 Activities to Relieve Stress During the Workday
For the next couple of weeks, we are doing a few extra blog posts as encouragement in these uncertain times. This extra blog has some great ideas to give yourself a break as we face added pressures of working from home, having children home from school, and being all under the same roof all the time. Be sure to do some self-care so you can do your best for your family and your job. Here is also a link to an interview on resilience that may give you encouragement as well: Five Lessons in Resilience: Overcoming Life’s Challenges with Kate Terrell.
If you’re like most Americans, you probably suffer from some level of work-related stress. According to The American Institute of Stress, 83 percent of workers report being stressed out from work, with 57 percent saying it’s so bad they feel paralyzed by it. The workplace tension is triggered by a number of factors, especially company culture, lack of work-life balance and strained relationships with bosses and co-workers. And it can have a detrimental effect, not only on your productivity during the day, but also on your overall health, well-being and mood.
Luckily, there are some simple things you can do to relieve some of the pressure during the workday. According to the experts, employees need short, periodic breaks to recharge their batteries, boost attention span and, ultimately, improve their job performance. Here are a few things you can do to tap into a state of leisure on your lunch break, even if you’re feeling totally zapped of motivation and energy.
- Watch a Funny Video—All those hilarious YouTube videos you saved for a rainy day may be just what you need for a midday destress. A 2015 study conducted by two psychological scientists at the University of New South Wales found that employees who watched an eight-minute video at work experienced an energizing effect that counteracted the effects of mental depletion. Yep, all those hilarious cat videos could actually be making you happier and healthier!
- Make Art—Creating something meaningful, whether it be a poem, a painting, a drawing or some gorgeous rhinestone art, can help you sink into a state of deep relaxation and focus on something other than work. At the same time, being creative serves as an act of self-expression, allowing you to offload some of the pressure or stress that tends to build up during the workday.
- Color—Studies show that adult coloring reduces stress and boosts creativity because it relaxes the brain, flows attention away from ourselves and provides a low-stakes activity that’s purely pleasurable. Another fun spin on adult coloring is the popular trend of making diamond art, which lets you color in complex designs with glimmering rhinestones, triggering the same calming effect. Grab a few diamond art kits to keep at your desk and work on each day during short breaks
- Take a Walk—We probably don’t have to cite any sources here! We all know that exercise is one of the best and most well-proven stress relief activities ever, no matter if you take a cycling class, learn some hip-hop moves on YouTube or practice outdoor yoga. Taking a midday walk around the office is the perfect lunch break activity because it’s distracting and boosts your mood but doesn’t leave you feeling sweaty or too tired to go back to work.\
- Stretch—Sitting for hours on end at a desk can cause you to store physical tension, tightness and pain in your upper back and shoulders. The physical effects of being stationary all day can lead to feelings of psychological stress, but you can counteract some of these challenges by taking two or three 15-minute breaks throughout the day to stretch and focus on something other than work.
- Knit—Knitting, crocheting, cross-stitching and other needlework activities are perfect for the workday because they’re fairly self-contained. You can keep all your tools and supplies in a small bag or container that you can either leave in your desk drawer for an anytime distraction or take to and from the office so you can also work on it at home. Needlework is similar to crafting and coloring in that it diverts attention away from the stress trigger and provides steady, calming focus in its place.
- Listen to Music—Music is the ultimate distractor, and it’s one of the few things in life that can instantly affect your mood in a million different ways. Keep some well-stocked playlists handy for those especially stressful days, with upbeat, energizing or relaxing tunes that take you to another place and help you unwind, even if only for 10 or 15 minutes while you eat lunch.
- Talk to Friends—Never underestimate the power of good conversation. Whether you meet an old friend for lunch or vent to your co-worker over a short walk, letting out your frustrations and listening to others can help you sort out your feelings and discover new ways to handle them. It also helps provide you with a different perspective, so you look at things differently and stress less.
- Write—There’s no denying it: Journaling, or even just jotting down your feelings, is good for the mind. In fact, a study from UCLA showed that putting your feelings into words actually produces therapeutic effects in the brain. Visualizing certain words on paper activates the prefrontal region of the brain and lowers its amygdala response, which tends to trip when your body is in danger. In other words, writing your feelings down literally calms the brain.
- Play a Game—Few things bring quite as enjoyable a distraction as playing a game. Whether on your phone, computer or tablet or even with a tabletop or board game, playing a game throws you into a totally different reality, effectively giving you some relief from the stressors of daily life. Consider looping in fellow gamers around the office so that you get both the benefits of gaming and the benefits of social interaction during a single lunch break.
Make Taking a Break a Priority
We’re all overworked, with tons of tasks, meetings and stressors to manage. The key to giving yourself some relief is to make taking frequent, short breaks a priority. You should be entitled to a certain amount of breaks each day depending on the laws where you live, so don’t be afraid to take them. It may be exactly what you need to be happier, healthier and more productive.
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About the Author
Vanessa Adams serves as the marketing coordinator for Diamond Art Club, which offers the highest quality diamond art kits on the market. She oversees all content creation from their West Hollywood, California Headquarters. In her spare time, she enjoys true-crime podcasts and pilates.