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Why it's important to take a break

A photo of a couple looking out to sea

As modern life makes our schedules busier and more hectic, it can be easy to forget to take some time out.

More people are sacrificing some, or all of their annual leave entitlement, so here’s three ways to get some down time into your diary.

Take a holiday

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance and taking the holidays that you’re entitled to can reduce the negative impact of work-related stress. Not only that, a holiday can leave you recharged and full of enthusiasm when you return.

Having a holiday on the horizon can help with your motivation, giving you something to look forward to. Research also suggests that taking a holiday may not only be enjoyable, but also good for your health.

Once you’ve booked your holiday, whether it’s a city break or a luxurious far-flung destination, use a picture as your screensaver to boost your motivation.

Make the most of your lunch break

If taking a holiday isn’t an option for you right now, maybe it’s time to reclaim your lunch break. An hour spent in the pub or surfing the internet are tempting choices. However, why not try one of the following to leave you feeling refreshed and energised for your afternoon’s work.

  • It isn’t always easy to fit the recommended 150 minutes per week of exercise into our busy lives. So make the most of your lunch break and get active. Join a local gym, start a running or walking club with your colleagues or even try a lunchtime yoga session.
  • Explore your neighbourhood by getting away from your desk and going for a walk or joining a walking tour. Why not download our Ground Miles app to help motivate you to keep walking?
  • Stimulate your mind with a bit of culture. Take in a lecture or visit a local museum.
  • Take yourself off to some greenery and enjoy the natural habitat. Bring along a book and immerse yourself in a good story.
  • Treat yourself to a relaxing massage. Massage is often used to reduce stress and increase relaxation.

How about a mini break?

The quality of your break is just as important as how long it is. Mini breaks are small amounts of time taken out from work or an activity that help your mind and body to relax and recover. In fact, as long as your attention is diverted from the work you’re doing, as little as five minutes can be enough.

There are a number of things you can do on your break.

  • Get up, stretch your legs and go and speak to colleagues rather than phoning or emailing them.
  • Make a drink – it doesn’t have to be tea or coffee, fill up your water bottle or make a herbal tea.
  • Practise some simple stretches or relaxation techniques that you can do at your desk or standing up.

Organise yourself

When planning your breaks, be as organised as you would with any other piece of work. This means planning ahead. Book your holidays at the beginning of the year or at the beginning of the week, plan your breaks and pop them into your diary.

Finally, try not to feel guilty about taking the holidays and breaks you’re due. All workers have a right to annual leave and by working hard throughout the year; you earn your allocation of time off. Taking a holiday helps to reduce stress within the workplace, making you more productive. A benefit to you and your employer, so it’s win win!

Why not start by making a wish list of places you’d like to visit or things you’d like to do. What makes the top of your list?

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Reviewed by Dylan Merkett, Bupa Health Information Team, January 2014.

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