My work in Chicago began with three months of probation.
I was petrified to leave my desk.
The company provided us with two breaks of 15 minutes and half an hour
for lunch, but I wasn’t having any of that. I researched, wrote and edited in
at full throttle, without interruption, eager to demonstrate my productive capacity.
After six weeks, my supervisor said my probation was over, in
half the normal time. I was in!
But my body was not happy. He had developed severe eyestrain. I had
constant headaches, and the muscles in my neck and upper back were
perpetually tight. My stomach ached from all the stress.
My heart wasn’t happy either, as I had never actually talked to anyone.
from my colleagues for any length of time. The entire social dimension of
work was missing.
But I had been too afraid to take care of myself until I felt my job was
Sounds familiar? Fear is just one of the factors that chain us to our desks.
Some of us have absorbed an ethic of overwork. Or do we feel the pressure of
work efficiently so that we can get home to our families.
But experts say that taking breaks can improve health and make us
more effective at work. Here are seven reasons to get up, stretch and
walking during working hours:
1. YOUR BODY WILL THANK YOU.
The human body was not designed to sit at a desk for hours on end.
The eyes, back, neck, shoulders and wrists benefit when we get up and
2. YOU WILL OPEN THE WAY TO CREATIVITY.
Very, very few good ideas have occurred to me while I’m at my desk,
pushing me to finish a project. Many ideas have come during the walks.
with my dogs, or while doing light housework. Other people get flashes
of inspiration while you shower.
Something about physical activity seems to free the mind to create.
3. YOU WILL FIND OUT WHAT IS HAPPENING AROUND YOU.
It’s amazing what you can learn about your workplace while chatting
with colleagues over coffee.
4. YOU WILL WORK MORE EFFECTIVELY.
“Work for a Living” author Joe Robinson cites several studies that show
Breaks improve productivity. Brief intervals of relaxation allow us
maintain high levels of effort most of the time.
5. YOU WILL LIKE YOUR WORK MORE.
If we never stop to take stock, savor achievements and maintain a
sense of fun, it is difficult to experience job satisfaction. Intense,
prolonged time on task can squeeze the joy out of work.
“One of the downsides of being eternal action figures is that you never
get anywhere,” writes Robinson.
6. YOU WILL TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE BENEFITS OF BUILDING A COMMUNITY.
Many of us grew up thinking that the workplace would reward hard work.
Then we were surprised to discover that the workplace rewards people who
they are well loved, regardless of whether they work harder.
When we take breaks to chat, we give others a chance to know
and like us, and we can get to know them and like them too.
7. YOU WILL FEEL BETTER AT THE END OF THE DAY.
It’s so much easier to enjoy family time when we come home with a reservation
of energy and without headaches or accumulated stress.
Sound too radical? It’s okay to start small. could you add five
take a minute break from your workday for a week or two and see what happens.
You may be surprised by the power of stopping to take you where you want.
I wanna go.
(c) Norma Schmidt, LLC
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