Taking Breaks At Work In 2021: The Secret To Productivity and Well-Being When You Work From Home

We’ve all sat through weary-eyed, leg-cramping power sessions at our desk, chasing a deadline, or busy dealing with endless tasks, emails, and meetings (now zoom meetings) back to back. 

If you are one of the millions moving to working remotely in 2021, you are probably working longer hours, putting in more continual desk time, and without the daily commute, more sedentary than ever.

In a recent report released from the National Bureau of Economic Research, researchers discovered that workers are working close to an hour more per day during lockdowns than they were before the pandemic. 

So, how do we navigate the new normal and restore our productivity, focus, and well-being? 

The secret is to take regular breaks at work

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes…including you.”
― Anne Lamott

If you listen to the experts, breaks are essentially little “interventions” that help us gracefully and productively manage the daily grind with rationale and perspective intact.

This complete guide covers all the nitty-gritty about taking breaks at work.

You will learn the importance of taking breaks, how to take effective breaks, what to do on your daily breaks to truly relax and boost your productivity, and a step-by-step guide on how to design a system so that you can easily make breaks a regular part of your routine and stick to it.

Sounds good?Let’s dive in.

Yes, it’s tempting to just want to “power through” one more hour of work. You don’t want to take breaks because you think you can get more done. But did you?

One day you started realizing that your neck, wrist, and back are hurting, despite being an otherwise health-conscious, active lifestyle advocate.

Whether you’re an employee or project stakeholder, hours spent sitting at a desk and staring at a screen puts a strain on your productivity and health.

Take a look.

Our Bodies Suffer

There is a lot of pressure to sit in the office – it’s how you get your work done. 

Now that you are probably spending more days working at home, where you don’t need to get up and walk around to talk to people. You are not walking to meetings, you don’t even need to commute. 

You are more exposed to the danger of sitting too much.

Researchers have linked sitting for prolonged periods of time to a significantly higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and depression, as well as muscle and joint problems. 

Toni Yancey, a professor of health services at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health, describes the process: “Sitting shuts down electrical activity in the legs. It makes the body less sensitive to insulin, causes calorie-burning to plummet, and slows the breakdown of dangerous blood fats, lowering ‘good’ HDL cholesterol.”

What’s noteworthy is that:

A recent science advisory from the American Heart Association has shown that going to the gym, running, or your favorite fitness class, doesn’t cancel out the negative impact of time spent being sedentary.

Radical as it might sound, you can’t undo sitting.

While working out and fitness are important if your goal is to maintain or get in the best shape of your life, it cannot reverse the harmful effects of sitting for the rest of the day and moving very little within your office or home.

So, what’s the solution?

To take regular breaks to get up and move.

Our Brains Depleted

Despite all the physical damage, what happens to your brain when you don’t take breaks: Your productivity goes downhill…before you notice.

Brain scientists are very aware of the fact that prolonged work is depleting. The “fading” that we experience creates declines in mood and performance.

“We don’t know exactly what in the brain gets depleted, but when you do a cognitively demanding task, it operates as though there’s a ‘mental fuel’ that gets burned up.”
– William Helton, PhD, a professor of human factors and applied cognition at George Mason University

Recent studies show that those who give in to some kind of break once an hour perform better than those who just keep at it without a break.

The Power of Taking Breaks

Many people experience “productivity breakthroughs” after going against their instincts to meet a deadline by taking a pause. We emerge refreshed and more resilient after getting up for both brain and movement breaks.

So, how do breaks help us? 

Here’s a quick look at the magic taking breaks does to our brain:

  • Improved focus.
  • Boosted creativity and problem-solving abilities
  • Better information retention
  • Improved productivity
  • Prevents decision fatigue
  • Reevaluate goals and seeing the bigger picture
  • Better stress management

Besides the juicy benefits that breaks have on our brains, now what if you can double the benefits? 

It’s simple – add movement to your breaks.

For those who get the least amount of physical activity, replacing a half hour of sitting time with physical activity was associated with up to a nearly 50% reduction in mortality, according to a new study from the American Cancer Society.

Breaks are a great opportunity to incorporate movement into our workdays to combat the setbacks of a sedentary lifestyle. 

Take a look at the most important benefits of movement breaks:

  • Improve energy levels
  • Boost mood and relieve stress
  • Strengthen weakened muscles and bones
  • Reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease
  • Reduces the risk of injury
  • Boost memory and focus

It’s pretty clear that taking breaks is a powerful tool that can make us better at what we do, feel physically better, and happier. 

High-performing people understand the power of taking breaks and know how to take advantage of effective breaks to become more productive while keeping their health in check.

So, how do you harness the power of taking breaks, so that you come back fully recharged both physically and mentally?

Continue reading to find out the strategy that actually works.

The Secret to Taking Effective Breaks at Work 

Although taking breaks at work might seem even harder when we are working from home and being “accessible” every waking minute, understanding how the brain works and taking the initiative to establish boundaries for effective breaks has quickly become the secret weapon to avoid burnout, improved productivity and personal well-being.

“Breaks are crucial,” says Cal Newport, author of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. “If you’re working day after day and not letting up, you will burn out.”

Understanding the Productivity Cycle 

Our focus, energy, and motivation moves in “waves”. 

Those cycles are known as biological rhythms.

Productivity cycle refers to working for evenly spaced periods of time, and taking breaks at that exact rhythm.

Understanding your productivity cycle can help you take more effective breaks at work. 

“Working for 75 to 90 minutes takes advantage of the brain’s two modes: learning or focusing and consolidation,” says MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Bob Pozen

According to Pozen’s findings, taking a 15-minute break following a productivity chunk allows our brains to better consolidate and retain information. Pozen’s findings echo the findings of research done by Tony Schwartz, the author of The Power of Full Engagement, showing that humans naturally move from full focus to fatigue every 90 minutes

How often should I take a break? And for how long?

There are many studies that have looked at optimal break schedules. Here are some of the most popular, science-supported methods which you could integrate into a workday:

  • Once Every Hour

Taking a 5 to 15 minutes break at the top of every hour like clockwork can get you ahead of the 75-minute fatigue curve. Plus, a top-of-the-hour break is easy to remember and execute.

  • Every 75 to 90 minutes

Following the brain’s “full-focus-to-fatigue” cycle, you can ride productivity waves all the way to the end before refreshing with a break for 5 to 15 minutes.

  • Pomodoro Technique

One of the most common ways to implement a schedule with breaks. Start with a to-do list and timer. After setting your timer for 25 minutes, focus on one task at a time until the timer buzzes. You will mark what you’ve completed before taking a non-negotiable 5-minute break. Enjoy a 30-minute break for every four pomodoros.

  • The 52:17 Method

Work in increments of 52 minutes before 17-minute breaks.

As you can see, all of these techniques essentially follow the same pattern of riding productivity peaks, followed by small breaks – typically 5 to 15 minutes. 

In doing this, we can build up new productivity cycles every 60 to 90 minutes without succumbing to the fatigue that naturally comes without breaks. 

However, how often you should take a break depends on the nature of your work and how your brain functions. Everyone is different. The key is to experiment and find your own rhythm.

Take breaks The Right Way

The Don’ts

Research shows that taking the wrong type of breaks could actually increase fatigue and steal your productivity, such as mindless snacking, online shopping, and mindlessly scrolling on social media. 

It’s also tempting to do some work during your breaks, such as checking your email or the message from your manager. It’s a no-no.

If these are the only breaks you are taking, keep reading to find out how to take breaks the right way.

The Do’s

To reap the maximum benefits of a break, you need to give your brain a chance to relax and your body a chance to recharge. 

The best practice is to incorporate activities into your breaks that bring you joy and positive vibes. 

For example, a short breathing exercise during your break can help lower blood pressure and relieve stress.‍

9 break ideas that boost your health and productivity

  • Simple stretches and mobilization exercises to relax and keep your body functioning, ease stiffness from sitting too long, and prevent injuries.
  •  (Home) office-friendly exercises to wake your sleeping muscles up, boost your energy level, and help you gain focus. Studies have shown that a moderate level of cardio activity can boost creativity and productivity for up to two hours.
  • A short walk outside. Despite the physical benefits, being physically detached from work, and getting some fresh air in your lungs improves your mood and lowers stress.Breathing/meditative exercise helps your body relax and is one of the most powerful ways to relax your brain and regulating your stress response.
  • Nap. If you are working from home, or work at a progressive company that affords you the luxury of taking a nap in the office. Take advantage of that. In several studies, a nap of as short as 10 minutes can improve your cognitive function and decrease sleepiness and fatigue. Having that afternoon slump? Nap it off. Be aware that naps that exceed 20 minutes might leave you feeling groggy and disoriented. It is best to limit your naps to 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Exercise your eyes to prevent eye strain, you can try the 20-20-20 rule.Healthy snacking. Replenish your brain with the right fuel. Here’s a look at some of the best snacks to eat at your desk
  • Talk to someone. Chat with a colleague or a friend (who is also on a break), grab a coffee down the street, take your dog on a walk, call your mom, or play with your kids if you are a parent working from home.
  • Laugh. Yes, go ahead and watch some funny videos of cats. According to a recent study, laugh breaks can improve your performance.

While it can be fun to work some creative activities into breaks, the goal remains the same if you want to maximize cognitive and physical boosts: 

1. Take your mind off work to give your brain a chance to truly relax;

2. Get up from your chair and move around to combat the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

The step-by-step guide to make breaks a regular part of your workday

If you’ve read this far, you probably have a pretty good idea of why you need to take breaks, what to do on your breaks and have a strong intention to do so. 

Now you’re thinking, “but how do I implement it to my workday and make it a habit?”

It is surprisingly hard for most people to make the change to integrate breaks into the day, even when it’s something that they intend to achieve.

The problem is that most people fail to follow the instructions that they give themselves.

Let’s be honest, it’s way easier to sit on your chair and mindlessly scroll through your phone, OR, you could be so deep in your work that you don’t have extra mental energy to come up with stuff to do or even think about taking a break.

This is when you need a system to, sort of, automate that part of your day. It’s like having your coach showing up at your door every day at the same time to keep you accountable.

So, how do you design a system that helps you achieve this goal?

The perfect behavior-modification technique for this case is what psychologists call implementation intentions. It is a self-regulatory strategy that has been found to be particularly effective when it comes to situations where there may be immediate costs but significant long-term benefits, such as taking breaks at work. 

An implementation intention supports our goal intention by setting out in advance when/where and how I will achieve this goal.

Here’s how :

Step 1: Specify your goal. For example, “I will take a break every hour at work”.

Step 2: Schedule them in your calendar (the When). Alternatively, if you prefer to work in “sprints”, set a timer on your phone or computer. You can set a timer for 30-minutes, go with the 52:17 method, or whichever time is optimal for you.

Step 3: Plan out your break activities ahead to avoid needing to “decide” what to do when it’s break time, such as “Go for a 5-minute walk at 3 pm” (the How)

Step 4: Follow the cues you have outlined in your plan

As a result, your goal will be performed automatically and efficiently, without conscious effort. 

What we love the most about this technique is that it frees our cognitive resources for other brain-heavy tasks like study & work, since we don’t need to think about when to take a break and what to do for that break. It’s already planned!

Once you take the first step of planning it out, the automated system that you designed helps to remove the hesitation and deliberation when you want to take a break. It’s like putting your breaks on auto-pilot.

And…if you don’t want to go through the hassle of manually scheduling breaks into your workday, or waste your mental energy on coming up with what to do for your breaks, there are tools that are designed to make your life easier.

Follow along.

“Are there any tools that can help me take breaks?”

We are glad that you asked. Yes, there are.

At StretchMinder, we are obsessed with great tools that make life easier. After all, that’s what we believe what technology should be – making people’s lives easier.

Here are 7 hand-picked tools that help you take breaks:

  • StretchMinder – A unique blend of break reminder and 7-minute workout. From putting your breaks on auto-pilot with pre-scheduled breaks to providing guided activity routines including Movement, Breathing & Walking exercises, the app takes care of it all with just a few clicks. It is perfect for those who want the easiest way to build a habit of taking breaks and moving more throughout the day. 
  • Focus To-Do – A app that brings Pomodoro Technique and To-Do List into one place, you can capture and organize tasks into your to-do lists, start focus timer and focus on work & study, set reminders for important tasks and errands, check the time spent at work.
  • Focus Booster – A simple and lightweight timer that automatically records each session. The app features a Pomodoro timer, a mini timer, customizable session lengths, report exports, and manual time entry. 
  • Flow Time – A Chrome Extension to boost your productivity. It works as a Pomodoro-like timer & website blocker that boosts your productivity by making your mind go into the state of flow faster.
  • Google – If you want to keep things simple, just type “set a timer for X minutes” into Google and set your timer.
  • Your calendar – Schedule your break slots and set reminders on your calendar to repeat every day.
  • Your phone – Set a timer with the native timer tool and repeat every day diligently.

Source: https://www.stretchminder.com

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Tanya Dalton

How taking breaks at work increases your productivity We try to work more efficiently and push ourselves at work, leaving less and less time for breaks and space to re-energize. Most people feel they never have enough time to take a quick break, or aren’t allowed to, but break times will boost your productivity and overall happiness. Increase productivity with these break ideas for work or home that are easy to implement. FREE Download: https://inkwellpress.com/breaks WATCH MORE: → 5 Habits to Embrace the Joy of Missing Out: https://youtu.be/DIJXnrmslz8 LISTEN to episode 082 of the Productivity Paradox podcast for more: https://ppx.inkwellpress.com/episode/… READ the Blog: → How to Build in Breaks to Your Work Schedule: https://wp.me/p9ZwEH-Ax → Got 2 minutes? Here’s 25 things you can do instead of scrolling your phone: https://wp.me/p9ZwEH-Av Say HELLO on social: Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tonyadalton… Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/inkwellpress/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/inkwellpress Group: inkWELL Press Productivity Co. – Our supportive, private Facebook group for everything productivity: https://inkwellpress.com/group

How to Keep Your Team Energized During the Holidays

This year, the holidays are different from any other that we have had in the past. Many families have been quarantined together all year long, struggling to balance the lines between work and home. Being on calls, virtual meetings, and attending online conferences, while feeding small children and pets is exhausting. Work feels like it is never-ending, and many are struggling with burn out. We all are due for a much-needed time off — to properly be strengthened as individuals, and as a team.

As 2020 ends and 2021 feels uncertain (work circumstances, vaccines, etc.), here are a few ways you can help your teams’ recharge and enter 2021 feeling refreshed and ready to handle any new (or old) challenge that comes.

Incentivizing health and wellness during the holiday season 

Balance is the name of the game. Think through the different policies and practices that have been in place this year and evaluate whether those have been working. 2020 has been the year of transition to remote working, and virtual collaboration. Workplace stress along with family/personal responsibilities can cause burn out and fatigue that affects productivity and effectiveness in all areas of life.

Related: Preparing Ecommerce for the “New” Holidays

As a leader, be willing to be generous and flexible. Take a closer look at your rules and norms and figure out the areas where flexibility is available. See if you can build in additional days off, such as mandatory mental health days. Or for the holidays, ask, can the team spare mandatory blackout periods i.e. no work emails after 5 pm during the months of November and December. 

Send out intentional and thoughtful notes to your employees for the end of the year. Acknowledge the struggles and imperfections with the transition and any new policies. Go the distance with a small, handwritten note dropped in the mailbox to your team mates. This will make people feel special and remind them that you are thinking of them.  

Provide gifts that encourage relaxation and recharge. For example, gift cards are a great way to deliver options for local massages, nail salons, float tanks. And if these shops are still not open due to COVID restrictions, your team members will have something to look forward to in the future, all the while supporting a local, small business.

In the upcoming months make connection a priority, and aim to conduct a few group activities, such as virtually led meditation workshops or virtual exercise classes. Teams could also hire a therapist and conduct a workshop to discuss tactics to monitor stress and wellness, especially with increased responsibilities around the holidays.

Make wellness a priority for your teams and prepare your people through the message that their well-being is important, and their ability to recharge in the next few months is a top priority. Employers that can do this successfully will reap the benefits of increased commitment and productivity as the new year comes around.

Protecting time and energy 

Research has shown that the priorities of younger women and men have changed, as they seek more opportunities for a flexible workplace. In 2021, it’s more likely that we can expect a hybrid solution between in-office and virtual working. The best way to adopt these new norms, and prepare teams is to open the lines of communication and reduce the stigma of having conversations around what a flexible work-life looks like. By hearing the concerns of people and teams, managers can problem-solve on challenges and focus on what is working for the future.

Now that most of the year has passed, take time to ask your employees if they have the proper tools for their home office. Engage, and see how as a company you can support their work environments through stipends for speedy internet, office supplies (paper, pens), and proper furniture (i.e. lumber supported chairs). Offer reimbursements or deals on chairs and tables that could be used in the home.

Related: 4 Tips to Fight Employee Disengagement During the Holidays

These upcoming months are also a perfect time for individuals and families to find ways to give back to the community and volunteer. Ask if your teams are interested in volunteering for the holidays and help source virtual or in-person events they can attend. Volunteering has been shown to increase a sense of purpose and fulfillment. You could also volunteer together as a team, to continue to build outside work relationships and connection. For example, our team had recently come together and wrote encouraging messages to seniors online. We were able to give back, while catching up with people on our lives outside of work.

And lastly, take this opportunity to reflect with your teams. Evaluate the office tools that have worked or ones that would be nice to have. This could be anything from virtual conferencing tools to online collaboration services. In addition, evaluate team communication and whether there needs to be changes or if things are working smoothly. Ask how people believe this last year went, and what they expect to happen in 2021. Encourage and support their views and show grace when at all possible. 2020 has been difficult, and this holiday is a great time to take time to breathe and recharge together.

By: Brenda Pak Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

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Work It Daily

NEW FREE MASTERCLASS: Laid Off & Looking – 6 Steps For Bouncing Back After Being Let Go: https://workitdaily.lpages.co/how-get… Resume Mistakes Guide FREE DOWNLOAD: https://www.workitdaily.com/free-resu… FREE Cover Letter Samples: https://www.workitdaily.com/cover-let… More FREE Career & Job Search Resources: https://www.workitdaily.com/resources In today’s video JT goes over some ways a manager can keep their virtual team motivated while everyone is working from home during quarantine. Working at home can be isolating and demotivating, so it’s important to build a strong bond with your team and keep checking in with them to make sure everyone is feeling ok. Get your daily career advice: https://www.workitdaily.com/https://twitter.com/workitdailyhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/jtodonnell/https://www.facebook.com/WorkItDaily/https://www.instagram.com/workitdaily…https://www.facebook.com/groups/WorkI…https://www.linkedin.com/company/work… ______________________________________ More from Work It Daily: Questions To Ask In An Interview: https://youtu.be/Y95eI-ek_E8 Common Interview Mistakes: https://youtu.be/6KnJtVnE_FA Answer – “Why Do You Want This Job?”: https://youtu.be/-1umUFfIicY Behavioral Interview Questions: https://youtu.be/gOBCQ9Di0Bo What Hiring Manager Want To Know: https://youtu.be/RTvYvZ9VHDc How To Write A Cover Letter: https://youtu.be/kdUafTx82OM#JTTalksJobs#WorkFromHome#VirtualTeam

6 Natural Remedies for When You’re Stressed About Work or Life

Let’s be honest: This is a tough time to be a business owner. Since March, the world has turned upside down. Your office is likely closed, revenue is disrupted if not massively down, business travel is mostly non-existent, keeping workers on staff is an issue, the future is uncertain — and let’s not even get started with the SBA Payroll Protection Program and other stimulus measures.

If stress is getting the best of you, here are six natural remedies that might help. As always, do your research and talk to your doctors about introducing supplements. 

1. Rhodiola Rosea

You may not have heard about this herb, but rhodiola rosea has been used by people in Scandinavia, Russia and China for years as a way to reduce fatigue and boost energy. Research has shown that among its other effects, rhodiola rosea boosts the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the nervous system that slows down our mental and physical processes. 

For most people who use it, this herb helps combat anxiety nicely. But it isn’t for everyone; some people actually report the opposite effect, with it increasing anxiety and irritability.When you give it a try, monitor your moods closely and ask those you live with to do the same. 

2. L-Theanine

One reason that some people drink tea is because it reportedly gives a boost without the buzz and anxiety that sometimes comes with drinking coffee. They can thank L-theanine for that, a compound in many teas that promotes focus and calmness. Studies have shown that L-theanine does more than just reduce anxiety, too; it seems to improve verbal fluency, executive function and sleep.

Tea is a common way to get a little L-theanine in your diet to reduce stress. But if you’re not a tea drinker — or like a bit too much sugar in your tea like me — you also can get this compound in supplement form.

3. CBD oil

Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is getting a lot of attention lately. Part of that attention comes from the fact that CBD is a natural extract from cannabis, the same plant that produces marijuana. Most of the attention, however, comes from the fact that this non-hallucinogenic part of the cannabis plant has a load of health benefits — including anxiety relief.

CBD targets the endocannabinoid system, the part of the body that is responsible for the feelings of relaxation and exhilaration after a strenuous workout. So just like a runner’s high, CBD brings a sustained calmness and focus that can be a major counterbalance to stress.https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Best yet, you can get this stress reliever in gummy bear form. “We sell CBD oil in a variety of forms, but the gummy bears might be the most popular,” laughs David Levitt, co-founder of CBD gummy maker bioMD+.

4.Omega-3 fatty acids

Your brain is very susceptible to inflammation, which causes anxiety and stress. One of the main drivers of inflammation are omega-6 fatty acids, which are found in cheap vegetable oils and refined carbs. A natural way to offset this is by consuming omega-3 fatty acids, which act as an anti-inflammatory agent in your brain and counteract the effects of omega-6 fatty acids. 

Omega-3s are naturally present in fish oil, so if you need a break from the stress of running a business right now, consider upping the amount of mackerel, salmon, herring or oysters you consume. If you want to avoid fish breath, consider adding omega-3 oil as a supplement. Make sure you get omega-3 supplements that come from fish oil, however, not vegetable sources. Although vegetable-based omega-3 supplements do work and are an option for vegetarians and vegans, a Harvard study showed that they aren’t nearly as effective as the fish-based variety.

5. Essential oils

Because you’re likely now working from home, another method to try for reducing anxiety is the use of essential oils while you work. There’s an entire industry built around using aromas and essential oils to relax and cut down on stress.

If you’re overwhelmed by the selection of oils out there, focus on lavender, chamomile and cedar wood, all of which are known to reduce heart rate, ease tension in the body, promote relaxation and improve sleep. You can smell these oils, burn them, diffuse them or even dab them on your skin when your stress levels start to feel like they’re getting a bit high.

6. Vitamin D

D is for de-stressing. As humans, we’ve evolved to expect a lot of sunlight. But when we work inside, we often suffer from a vitamin D deficiency that can lead to anxiety and stress. Turns out the stress you’ve been feeling the past few months might have to do with spending too much time indoors, not just the current state of the world. 

Vitamin D supplements can help, but there is some research that suggests they might not work as well as you think. A better way to get more vitamin D is the old-fashioned habit of going outside and taking a walk. You not only get a little exercise, which helps with anxiety, but also exposure to those valuable sun rays that naturally give you the vitamin D your body craves. 

You can’t really get rid of the stress from running a business during these times, but you can manage your anxiety with natural remedies. So carry on, but don’t forget to handle your stress.

Jt Ripton Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Discover how to get more done in less time and overcome procrastination with my FREE guide: http://bit.ly/2996Y3X “Within every setback or obstacle there is the seed of an equal or greater advantage or benefit. Find it.” @BrianTracy (Tweet this: http://ctt.ec/3rjNb) ___________________ Learn more: Subscribe to my channel for free offers, tips and more! YouTube: http://ow.ly/ScHSb Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BrianTracyPage Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/BrianTracy Google+: +BrianTracyOfficialPage Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/BrianTracy Instagram: @TheBrianTracy Blog: http://bit.ly/1rc4hlg

4 Ways Gratitude Helps Entrepreneurs Right Now

In business, the return on investment (ROI) for your money is valued in terms of the ratio between your net profit and the cost of investment.  A financial analyst quickly calculates this value which generally reflects success, failure and or progress on the part of an entrepreneur or investor. 

The ROI for health and well-being, for entrepreneurs, investors and us all alike, is not as easily calculable. There is plenty of research in health and medicine that discusses how to improve health, regain health and sustain good health. A clear takeaway from the research on gratitude is that gratitude supports well-being in terms of physical, mental, emotional and social health, especially in the time of coronavirus.  In other words, the ROI for well-being from expressing gratitude is particularly strong at this time.

Related: Why Gratitude Makes Leaders More Effective

What are the benefits of expressing gratitude?  There are at least 4 perks of expressing gratitude that promote health and well-being.

1. Expressing gratitude strengthens our relationships

In a study demonstrating that gratitude strengthens relationships, the researchers write, “Relationships with others who are responsive to our whole self — our likes and dislikes, our needs and preferences — can help us get through difficult times and flourish in good times.”

Gratitude’s ability to strengthen relationships leads to strong support systems that boost overall well-being.  The next time you think of a close friend, consider showcasing your gratitude for them!  

2. Expressing gratitude improves our mental health

Gratitude has a positive impact on mental health, encouraging inspiration, motivation, wonder and satisfaction.  Looking for a boost to get your days started?  Expressing gratitude can help you feel inspired by scouring for things big and small to be grateful for.  Inspiration, in turn, leads to motivation which can help reach your goals. Regularly feeling gratitude about nature and connection helps reignite our sense of awe.  

3. Expressing gratitude helps relieve stress

Gratitude helps lower our levels of cortisol — a stress hormone — by about 23 percent, helping to prevent the health problems that stress can lead up to. What does that mean? You can help avert the negative consequences of stress including weight gain, anxiety, headaches, and even heart disease through mindfulness strategies such as a regular gratitude practice.  

Related: The Biological Reason to Practice Gratitude

4. Expressing gratitude curbs anxiety

The ROI on expressing gratitude includes help with anxiety.  A 2015 Italian study in Self and Identity showed that “being grateful renders individuals more prone to show kindness, comprehension, support, and compassion toward themselves when setbacks and frustrations occur.”

Related: How the ‘Gratitude Effect’ Can Reshape Your Life and Its Direction

By promoting self-compassion and self-understanding, gratitude helps reduce unbeneficial self-talk.  In turn, this alleviates anxiety, which 40 million American adults face. 

The ROI for expressing gratitude is real and tangible. Try three strategies to get started on your gratitude practice: 

1. Make a list of three things you are grateful for each day.

More specifically, pick out three different parts/things in each day that you can be grateful for and enjoy them. For example, you appreciate the peacefulness of the sun rising in the morning. Or you like taking your shower and feeling ready to start your day.  These could be regular things you savor or something different each day.

2. Write a thank-you note to someone you care about

Share with a friend why he or she is so meaningful to you.  Or, tell a loved one thank you for them just being who they are.  It might feel awkward, but the bonds you strengthen will leave you feeling satisfied.

3. Write and share an uplifting and inspirational social media post

Post an uplifting quote about gratitude with your friends on social media. Or, you celebrate a friend or loved one’s birthday with a loving and heartfelt status post on a friendly and uplifting app or platform. Enjoy these moments.

By engaging in gratitude regularly,  your ROI for well-being will be multiplied many times over.  Your relationships and stress and anxiety levels will improve.  Invest in gratitude today to see the dividends both now and later.  Coronavirus may have us socially distanced, but our gratitude for living and each other can bring us closer together in meaningful ways.


By: Najma Khorrami / Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

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The Importance of Maintaining Structure & Routine During Stressful Times

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Some people love to have a solid daily routine, while others shudder at the thought of having a predictable schedule. During times of great stress, however, maintaining structure and routine can help you feel more organized and in control.

Having a routine can be helpful at any time, particularly if you are trying to establish healthy habits, but these routines can be particularly important when aspects of your life feel uncertain.

The disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have dramatically altered many people’s normal routines, which makes it that much harder to cope with the stress that people are feeling.

A Sudden Lack of Structure

Many people are either working from home or faced with the prospect of an unknown period of unemployment. Those working at home may quickly discover that the constant isolation and lack of a normal schedule can be mentally taxing.

“When people don’t have a routine or structure to their day it can cause increased stress and anxiety, as well as overwhelming feelings, lack of concentration, and focus,” explains Dr. Rachel Goldman, psychologist and clinical assistant professor at the NYU School of Medicine.

This lack of structure and routine can actually exacerbate your feelings of distress and make you pay more attention to the source of your problems. “If people don’t have structure and are sitting around with less to focus on, then they also probably will find themselves thinking about the stressful situation more, which can also lead to additional stress and anxiety,” Goldman explains.

One way to get out of this cycle that promotes ruminating over the source of your stress is to maintain some structure and routine throughout your day.

The Benefits of Having a Routine

Research has consistently shown that routines can play an important role in mental health. One study, for example, found that routines could help people better manage stress and anxiety.2

Having a regular routine can help you:

  • Lower stress levels
  • Form good daily habits
  • Take better care of your health
  • Help you feel more productive
  • Help you feel more focused

Getting necessary tasks out of the way can also help you find more time for healthy behaviors like exercise and leave you more time to enjoy fun activities and hobbies.

Some things that you can do that will help you maintain a routine when you’re stressed:

Focus on Things You Can Control

Managing your own behaviors can help you feel more in control of the situation. Goldman recommends focusing on the things that are within your power to control. “A good place to start with creating a new routine is to set wake-up and bedtimes, as well as meal and activity times,” she suggests. The key is to create a routine that adds structure and a sense of predictability to your day.

Of course, your schedule may change somewhat depending on the day of the week, but sticking to a basic structure for when you will wake, eat, work, do activities, and sleep can help you feel less stressed out and more organized.

Structuring your day also ensures that you accomplish those basic tasks that must be done, which will leave you with the time to schedule in other things that you want or need to accomplish.

You’ll feel more organized and productive with a regular routine, which will help you feel more proactive and in control in the face of a stressful situation.

Follow a Routine That Supports Your Health

There are some things that you can make a part of your daily routine to help manage stress levels. These include:

  • Staying active and getting regular daily exercise
  • Making sure that you are well-rested
  • Eating healthy meals on a regular schedule
  • Setting realistic goals
  • Trying to stay positive
  • Preparing for challenges but not ruminating on things you can’t control
  • Staying in touch with friends and family members
  • Setting aside time for activities that you enjoy

Of course, the situation you personally are coping with can also affect how easy or hard it is to stick to a daily routine. Stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19 have left many people with blank schedules, which can be a daunting prospect for many people. It’s important to find things to fill your time so you don’t end up engaging in unhelpful or unhealthy behaviors.

Make Your List

One helpful activity is to make a list of the things that you normally do during the day. Include everything from work to meal preparation to household chores. Once you have an idea of the basic tasks you need to accomplish, you can start creating a general outline for what you might need to accomplish each day to stay on track.

Stress can make it hard to concentrate, so outlining these daily activities can help you better focus on what’s important.

While its important to get the essentials done, be sure to find things that you can look forward to, whether it’s watching a favorite television show or calling up a friend. Making these little rewards a part of your routine can help you stay upbeat and focused when you are working on a task that you might not enjoy as much.

Find What Works for You

Is it better to have a structured daily schedule or just a general to-do list for the day? Some people might thrive with a highly structured daily schedule that outlines activities in specific blocks of time, while others might do well with a loose list of things they need to get done in the day.

How do you decide which approach is right for you? Consider your motivations as well as what you need to get done. “If it is something that is of high importance and needs to get done on a specific day, then scheduling it into your routine and carving out that time may be necessary to make sure it gets accomplished,” Goldman recommends.

In other words, deliberately schedule a specific time to take care of those high priority tasks. Knowing that you have that time set aside for those tasks will leave you free to focus on using the rest of your time effectively.

She also suggests that it may be helpful to schedule things that you may not be motivated to do. “When we don’t feel motivated to do things, it is very easy to procrastinate doing them and they will continue to get pushed for the next day and the next day,” she explains. Knowing that you need to do those tasks at a certain time on a certain day will help keep you on track and hopefully overcome the urge to just keep putting them off.

Remember It Takes Time and Practice

Just like trying to create a new habit, starting and sticking to a new routine takes some time and effort. You know yourself best, so if something doesn’t seem to be working, try tweaking your schedule to make it work for your needs.

Goldman recommends paying attention to how you feel throughout the day in order to determine what times of day you are the most productive.

“If you feel like each day you feel unmotivated and lethargic at a certain time, then that is a sign that you may need a mental break at that time,” she says.

When you find yourself in those moments, think about what you might need to feel better and get motivated. That might mean that you need to take a break, go for a walk, have a snack, or spend some time working on a hobby.

Structure your day to make the most of the natural ebb and flow of your energy levels. You’ll get more done and ensure that you’re getting what you need in terms of rest and relaxation.

While having a routine is important, give yourself some flexibility and don’t beat yourself up if you have trouble sticking to your own schedule. Everyone copes with stress differently. Having a routine can help you maintain a sense of normalcy and focus through tough times, but don’t stress yourself out more if you sometimes deviate from your plans.

 “Plans don’t always go as planned though, so remember to be kind to yourself,” says Goldman. “This is not the time to put extra pressure and expectations on yourself. It’s not easy to create new routines, or add structure to a day, when our lives feel completely disrupted and turned upside down, so it may take some time to get used to this “new” routine and be able to feel accomplished.”

Source: https://www.verywellmind.com

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Effective Ways To Manage And Relieve Your Stress

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Whether it’s related to work, your personal life or finances, stress is a part of everyday life. According to the 2019 Stress in America Survey, “More than three-quarters of adults report physical or emotional symptoms of stress, such as headache, feeling tired or changes in sleeping habits.” The overwhelming effects of stress can take a toll on your mind, body and overall well-being. While the situation you’re in may be out of your control, how you choose to manage your stress entirely up to you. Find out how incorporating a few healthy habits can help with relieving your stress.

Prioritize Movement And Exercise For Stress Relief

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, your natural inclination may be to focus on the issue that is causing you to react. However, the best thing you can do is to get up and put your body into motion. Your mind, body and heart are interconnected. According to an article published by Harvard Health, “Regular aerobic exercise will bring remarkable changes to your body, your metabolism, your heart, and your spirits.” Exercise reduces stress hormones by releasing endorphins. Often considered the body’s natural pain killers, endorphins can help elevate your mood, produce feelings of optimism and help your body relax. Try to incorporate as much movement in your day as possible. If you can’t make it to the gym, go for a walk during your lunch break, practice yoga at home or dance in your kitchen. Every bit of movement can help in relieving your stress.

Create Boundaries And Learn When To Switch Off Work 

Work is a major source of stress for most people. In fact, an annual survey from the American Psychological Association revealed that, “60 percent of people in the United States consider their job a major source of stress.” Before you start considering a career change, try managing your stress by setting a few boundaries. Creating a healthy work-life balance is as much in your control as it is your employer. Set a rule for yourself that your work will remain in the office. Being able to switch off work mode is an important aspect of self-care. When you’re off the clock, do things that make you feel good, like cooking, spending time with friends or watching a movie. Those hours that you spend taking care of yourself will help give your brain a much-needed break from constantly having to think about work.

Stay Hydrated

A simple solution to stress reduction is proper hydration. Amanda Carlson, director of performance at Athlete’s Performance told WebMD, “Studies have shown that being just half a liter dehydrated can increase your cortisol levels.” The National Academy of Medicine recommends that you drink one milliliter of water per each calorie of food consumed. To help reach your total daily intake, opt for a glass of water in lieu of your morning coffee or afternoon soda.

Get Quality Sleep 

Stress is one of the largest culprits of poor sleep quality. Without adequate rest, you may begin to exhibit greater agitation and impatience — especially in the face of hardship. The Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night. If you have trouble fulfilling these daily recommendations, try implementing evening routines, like:

  • Going to bed at the same time every night
  • Turning off digital screens in the evening
  • Avoiding caffeine in the afternoon
  • Writing down your thoughts or to-do lists before bed

Reassess Your To-Do List And Set Goals

One of the most effective ways to combat stress is to address it at the source. Begin by identifying external triggers – like your career, relationship or finances – and determine ways in which you can alleviate some of the pressure. Maybe it’s asking for support on a work project or setting a monthly budget to manage your money. By creating a plan of action, you’ll be better equipped to tackle stress the next time it transpires.

Reach Out For Social Support

Confiding in a friend or family member about your hardships may not always feel easy, but it can provide you with a sense of encouragement and relief. In fact, creating an emotional support network is crucial in stress management. According to Newcastle University epidemiologist Nicole Valtorta, PhD, “loneliness has been found to raise levels of stress, impede sleep and, in turn, harm the body.” Rather than keeping stress to yourself, talk through it with a relative, phone a friend or meet with a therapist.

Incorporating these stress-relief habits into your everyday life can help you stay calm and prevent chronic stress from developing over time. Remember, stressful situations are always going to arise, but you have the power to control how you react.

Amway helps people live healthier, more confident lives through innovative nutrition, beauty, personal care and home products. Find ways Amway can help you live your best life at www.amway.com/en_US/amway-insider/amway-voice

Source: Forbes.com

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Stressed out? Can’t seem to relax? Take a deep breath in… and don’t forget to breathe out. Here’s a way to relieve and manage your stress levels. This video is brought to you by Changi General Hospital. For more health tips, visit https://www.healthxchange.sg
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