You probably know that seven to eight hours of sleep every night are essential to perform at your best. However, taking microbreaks throughout the day is equally important to your body and mind.
What Are Microbreaks?
Microbreaks are exactly what the term suggests: activities that take no more than five minutes and help you reset your mind and relax your body.
This type of break is important because focusing on a single task for a long period of time reduces your mental sharpness and can even have long-term consequences for your body.
In short, microbreaks are an easy and inexpensive way to stay connected, nimble, and productive at work.
Why Are Microbreaks Important?
A growing number of studies suggest that microbreaks are key to improve our performance.
For example, in a 2017 experiment, researchers divided participants into two groups and asked them to take a test where they had to monitor maps of railway lines on a screen. One group was allowed no break during the 45-minute task, while the other took a 5-minute break halfway through the task.
People in the second group were assigned randomly to different activities: sitting quietly, listening to music, watching a music video, or spending the break in any way they chose to without leaving the room. Regardless of what they did on their break, all participants in the second group performed better than the participants who received no break.
Some Ideas for Microbreaks
Here are some ideas you may find useful to apply during your microbreaks. Whether you want to rest physically or mentally, there are options for everyone.
- Body-focused microbreaks
- Rest your eyes with the 20/20/20 rule: every 20 minutes look at something located 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- Do some light stretching.
- If you forget to take microbreaks, consider building them into your routine by standing up every time you have to take a phone call or by placing your printer at a distance from your desk, so you have to get up whenever you have to print something.
- Mind-focused microbreaks
- Expand your vocabulary with Google Word Coach (just type “Word Coach” on Google—note that it may only work on mobile). Playing a round of five questions takes a minute or less.
- Get inspired with works of art. Just type “Google art game” on Google to play a round of five (mostly visual) questions. Again, it may only work on mobile.
- Soothe your mind with relaxing sounds like rain, or birds. Just type the “rain sounds” or “relaxing sounds” on YouTube and enjoy.