Take 5 for Performance and Personal Well-Being
By Annemarie Spadafore, June 18, 2020
We don’t have the natural boundaries and endpoints created by our morning and afternoon commutes. It’s tempting to stay in front of the computer much more right now as there is so much to do and we want to demonstrate our value. However, this is counter-intuitive to support our health and well-being and may drain our motivation to achieve our goals.
Working from home means that we don’t get our normal coffee breaks, bio breaks, and opportunities to chit-chat with colleagues. It’s up to us to manage our well-being and create healthy boundaries. We can intentionally replicate these activities at home to take care of our brains and bodies by taking five:
1) Take a Stand: Aim for every 50 minutes or every 100 minutes. Set a timer on your phone to remind yourself and when it goes off, pause. Look away from your computer, stand up, stretch, and observe your non-screen surroundings. Give your eyes and your body some non-screen time.
2) Take a Breath: Practicing proper breathing is a proven way to reduce stress, and it doesn’t take the expertise of a guru. Most adults are shallow breathers; reverse this with a few simple techniques: breathe in deeply through your nose, allowing your stomach to expand (avoid raising your shoulders; hold for a count of five to 10 seconds; breathe out through your mouth for the same count. Repeat five times or until you feel relaxed.
3) Take a Break: Grab a glass of water, a nutritious meal, or a snack but don’t just take these back to your computer. Enjoy them without screen time. Consider visiting with your partner, children, or pets or send a text or make a quick call to someone you care about (but avoid getting buried in your phone). Have a conversation about something fun and irrelevant (or irreverent) and enjoy the boost from the connection.
4) Take a Walk: Regardless of the weather, it’s essential to move your body and get some time outside. Consider taking some phone calls each day while walking or listen to some music that makes you feel good.
5) Take Stock: Create meaningful structure for yourself by beginning and ending your workday intentionally, much like your commute bookended the beginning and end of your time in the office. Give yourself a brief morning and evening transition period (many of the activities above would work). Consider jotting down a short list of accomplishments or highlights from the day or mentally close out your to do list by writing it down and noting that it will be accomplished another day. Be intentional about ensuring you have time for yourself, loved ones, hobbies, and other activities after work.