We’re all different, so choose breathers that you like and know work best for you. Here are some to get you started:
- Before joining a meeting, take three slow breaths. This slows down activity in the part of the nervous system associated with the stress response. It’s calming, clarifying and you’re now best prepared to actively listen and respond appropriately.
- Before answering your phone, wait for two to three seconds. This will help you ground yourself. You’ll separate your mind from what you’ve just been doing and focus on the conversation you’re about to begin.
- When scheduling meetings allow for a five to 10-minute breather in between. This will help you and your exec to rest and reset (a study from Microsoft has shown how back-to-back meetings, especially Zoom calls, elevate stress and reduce your ability to pay attention).
- Honour your boundaries. It’s reasonable to stay behind sometimes to complete a task or help – but not every day. If you expect to work an extra hour or three regularly, you will. And it will easily fill with ‘stuff that must be done’, becoming your norm. Productivity has been shown to take a nosedive once you’ve put in more than 45 to 50 hours per week. Remember, being busy does not equate to being productive. Your new mantra is that less is more.
- Plan regular pit stops. A race car driver knows that to make it to the end of the race, it’s essential to allow for pit stops – they could be the difference between winning and not finishing. For you? This could be refilling and drinking an extra glass of water, taking your lunch break away from your desk or getting outside for five minutes of fresh air and sunshine.
- Go green. You don’t need a green thumb to benefit from spending time in a green space. If your office space permits, having a pot plant in the periphery of your vision has been shown to help address attention fatigue, as does having a window overlooking a green space. That 30-second glance outside the window is all it takes to restore concentration for the next couple of hours.
- Meditate to reconnect with feeling grounded, present and calm. There is no known minimum dose and studies have shown even five minutes will bring cognitive benefits and lower stress.