Have you heard of the term “microbreak” before? Perhaps not. This is a relatively new phrase but it is becoming increasingly popular in the workplace, especially for the office or sedentary worker. No matter if you are working from home or in an office space, anyone with a desk job can benefit from microbreaks.
What are microbreaks?
Microbreaks are exactly what they sound like: micro-breaks. These are quick, short breaks taken throughout the workday. Whether you simply stand for 30 seconds or take a 5 minute walk around the office, you are essentially taking a microbreak.
There is no real prescription for taking a quick intermission, as long as you are taking frequent short breaks throughout the day, you will benefit from the positive outcomes associated with microbreaks.
The key is to remember these are short and frequent versus one long break, or a handle full of medium sized breaks. Even if you have the option to take a long lunch with a few 15 minute breaks throughout the day, you should still take regularly scheduled microbreaks.
Why take one?
These brief pauses from work have so many benefits. Not just for your physical, but also your mental health.¹ Think of them as a moment to “reboot”, just like you would do for an overworked computer.
You are provided with the opportunity to get away from your desk, getting out of your prolonged seated position.
You can refresh your mind as you are taking your focus away from work.
All of your muscles and joints can move and stretch out of your sustained desk posture.
Even your eyes have the chance to take a break from straining as they stare at the computer screen.
Research after research is proving that microbreaks really are the next best thing. Anyone from surgeons to typists are benefiting from these. From improved mood and productivity to decreased aches and pains, microbreaks are sure to help, not hurt your work experience.² ³ ⁴
How to take a microbreak?
One of the best ways to go about taking a microbreak is to take a 1-2 minute break every 20-30 minutes. But they can range from 1 to 5 minutes, taken at least once an hour.
The key is to engage in a non-work-related task. Research has found that it is best to stop work, not switch to another work-related activity.⁵
To best implement a microbreak, follow these 5 tips!
Set yourself up for success.
Make it easy and necessary for you to frequently get up and away from your desk. Try some of these ideas:
- Move your printer, copy machine, or fax into a different room, or at least not in reaching distance from your desk.
- Stand up while you are talking on the phone.
- Enjoy your lunch away from your computer screen.
- Use a small cup or bottle of water so that you need to get up several times a day for a refill.
- Set a timer on your phone or computer to go off every 20-30 minutes for a reminder to take a microbreak.
Get some fresh air!
Research shows that 40 seconds of nature is more effective in improving and restoring your attention than a city or concrete scene.⁶
- Go look out a window.
- Even better, go for a walk around the building.
- Use an active sitting chair. Active sitting chairs, like the Symbiotic Chair, allow for micro-movements all day long! While actually getting up and away from your desk is very beneficial, if this is not feasible for your workplace, the Symbiotic chair will help you obtain all of the benefits that microbreaks provide.
- Use of a balancing mechanism on these chairs allows you to constantly move around in your chair, using your core muscles for movement and balance, while your “sit-bones” stay supported on a comfortable chair.
- Plus, without the use of a sculpted backrest, you can move around with the support you need, while also being provided a counter-force as you lean against it.
Incorporate stretches or light exercise into your microbreaks. Exercise performed frequently, in short bouts, throughout the day has been proven to be effective in:
- Improving one’s mood and well-being.
- Improving energy and decreasing hunger.
- Without negatively impacting productivity.
Try some light stretches, squats, lunges, or brisk walking on your next microbreak!
Don’t engage in work tasks during your microbreak.⁵ Going from typing up a report to responding to emails is not considered a break! If you don’t feel like getting away from your desk, at least try one of these activities:
- Watch a funny video.
- Scroll through your social media.
- Read a news article.
- Call a family or friend.
- Engage in a conversation with a coworker.
Microbreaks may seem silly and perhaps even a waste of time. But the research cannot be ignored. These short, quick, non-work-related breaks allow you to briefly disengage from your task at hand. Add these up throughout the work day and you will find yourself more productive, with more energy, less pain, and overall happier with your work-life balance.
Even if you simply start incorporating microbreaks through use of an active sitting chair, you are on the right track.
These small intermissions at work have the ability to improve the quality of our entire life. There is no denying the fact that our work spills over into our personal life. So why not do all that you can to improve your work experience, and therefore, your entire life?
Get started today! Try active sitting and set that timer to help keep you accountable!
Author: Adria Biasi
Author is US based Doctor of Physical Therapy and Board Certified Orthopedic Specialist