Most Danes have a 37-hour working week. Some claim that we during that amount of time could be more productive, while others praise the Danes as being particularly effective. Either way, being effective and productive during a day’s work requires a break. Yes, a break.
“It’s important to take a break – 10 minutes several times throughout the day. A break can make us better at solving different tasks, we get a cognitive break and this is important if things turns into a deadlock,“ says Janne Skakon, Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychology at University of Copenhagen.
Janne Skakon’s main research fields cover stress prevention and management and healthy psycho-social work environments – including how breaks can make us more productive.
A break is more than looking out the window
You might think that looking out the window for a brief moment or checking Facebook for the 30th time works fine as procrastinations and breaks, but Janne Skakon points out that you have to put some more effort into your break to benefit from it.
“If it’s possible to be both physical and social during a break it’s worthwhile. In this way, you can strengthen the relationship between colleagues, and going outside makes us relax and calm down. So, ask a colleague if they want to join you for a walk, and you’ll get all the good aspects of a break,” says Janne Skakon.
When asked, why it’s not good enough to just take a break by one’s workstation, Janne Skakon replies that you need to get away from what you are doing for a short while, to be able to return with new energy
You have to be a super-human to both perform and deliver well on all fronts without feeling stressedMaribel Blasco, Associate Professor CBS
Also, you shouldn’t even think about consuming your lunch by your computer if you have a wish of getting that office-body of yours ready for the beach.
“Some research points that if you eat your lunch by your workstation or laptop it’s more fattening. If you have lunch with your colleagues away from your laptop, you become more aware of the eating situation – so called mindful eating,” says Janne Skakon.
It’s okay to say no
What usually makes a day hectic and stressful is the imbalance between the number of tasks and the time given to solve those.
Maribel Blasco, Associate Professor at the Department of Management, Society and Communication at CBS is currently looking into, why students are so stressed out, and she points out that they have too little time during their studies to actually reflect upon what the books and lecturers try to teach them.
Something that is not very different from her own work life.
“Just like the students I feel pressure from outside to publish articles and and come up with relevant research, and that produces anxiety. I have very little time to go into depth with what I’m doing, and it’s the same for the students,” says Maribel Blasco.
She explains to CBS WIRE what she has done to create more time during the day.
”Creating space in your workday requires that you prioritize and that you have to say no to things that on the face of it seems attractive or prestigious. But saying no opens a window for thinking.You can so easily get caught up in this productivity-machinery, and you have to be a super-human to both perform and deliver well on all fronts without feeling stressed,” says Maribel Blasco.
Everything will go swimmingly
Even though Janne Skakon asks us to go outside or socialize during a break, we have to be honest and admit – it’s not gonna happen. At least not every day. But there are other ways to relief yourself from your workload and gain new energy.
CBS WIRE introduces you to our gold-framed aquarium on the website. Here you can watch beautiful fish calmly swimming around while you take a break and you actually gain something.
“Many studies show that significant health and well-being benefits can be obtained from viewing simulated representations of natural environments, such as art, photographs and video, although the outcomes tend to be stronger for real settings,” says Deborah Cracknell, PhD Student at University of Exeter to CBS WIRE.
She is currently looking into how it affects people’s physical being and mental health after a bit of aquarium-gazing. And it seems that it has a positive impact.
“Only five minutes of aquarium-watching is enough to experience a notable drop in heart rate, and thereby, you would feel more relaxed,” says Deborah Cracknell, who has published her study in the scientific journal, Environment and Behavior.
She explains that they did the experiments in collaboration with National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, England, but they are also looking into the exact benefits from watching a movie of aquarium fish.
“Overall, personally, I say that people could gain some relaxation benefits from viewing a video of aquarium fish,” says Deborah Cracknell.
So, even though you think you don’t have time for a break, it might help you work better and faster. Be selfish – take a break.
(Video: Look at these beautiful fish, while you take a break. CBS WIRE will regularly change the videos and provide you with other amazing sea creatures to gaze at.)