Just 2 Minutes of Walking After a Meal Is Surprisingly Good For You

A new paper suggests that it takes far less exercise than was previously thought to lower blood sugar after eating. Walking after a meal, conventional wisdom says, helps clear your mind and aids in digestion. Scientists have also found that going for a 15-minute walk after a meal can reduce blood sugar levels, which can help ward off complications such as Type 2 diabetes. But, as it turns out, even just a few minutes of walking can activate these benefits.

In a meta-analysis, recently published in the journal Sports Medicine, researchers looked at the results of seven studies that compared the effects of sitting versus standing or walking on measures of heart health, including insulin and blood sugar levels. They found that light walking after a meal, in increments of as little as two to five minutes, had a significant impact in moderating blood sugar levels.

“Each small thing you do will have benefits, even if it is a small step,” said Dr. Kershaw Patel, a preventive cardiologist at Houston Methodist Hospital who was not involved in the study.

In five of the studies that the paper evaluated, none of the participants had pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes. The remaining two studies looked at people with and without such illnesses. Participants were asked to either stand or walk for two to five minutes every 20 to 30 minutes over the course of a full day.

All seven studies showed that just a few minutes of light-intensity walking after a meal were enough to significantly improve blood sugar levels compared to, say, sitting at a desk or plopping down on the couch. When participants went for a short walk, their blood sugar levels rose and fell more gradually.

For people with diabetes, avoiding sharp fluctuations in blood sugar levels is a critical component in managing their illness. It’s also thought that sharp spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels can contribute to developing Type 2 diabetes.

Standing also helped lower blood sugar levels, although not to the degree that light walking did. “Standing did have a small benefit,” Aidan Buffey, a graduate student at the University of Limerick in Ireland and an author of the paper, said. Compared to sitting or standing, “light-intensity walking was a superior intervention,” he said.

That’s because light walking requires more active engagement of muscles than standing and uses the fuel from food at a time when there is a lot of it circulating in the bloodstream. “Your muscles will soak up some of that excess glucose,” said Jessie Inchauspé, author of the book “Glucose Revolution: The Life-Changing Power of Balancing Your Blood Sugar.”

“You still had the same meal, but the impact on your body will be lessened,” she added.

Although light walking at any time is good for your health, a short walk within 60 to 90 minutes of eating a meal can be especially useful in minimizing blood sugar spikes, as that is when blood sugar levels tend to peak.

Ms. Inchauspé also recommended getting up to do housework or finding other ways to move your body. This short amount of activity will also enhance other dietary changes that people may be making to help control their blood sugar levels.

“Moving even a little bit is worthwhile and can lead to measurable changes, as these studies showed, in your health markers,” Dr. Euan Ashley, a cardiologist at Stanford University who was not associated with the study, said.

Mr. Buffey, whose research focuses on physical activity interventions in workplace environments, noted that a mini-walk of two to three minutes is more practical during the workday. People “are not going to get up and run on a treadmill or run around the office,” he said, but they could get some coffee or even go for a stroll down the hallway.

For people working from home, he suggested a short walk around the block between Zoom meetings or after lunch. The more we normalize mini-walks during the workday, Mr. Buffey said, the more feasible they will be. “If you are in a rigid environment, that’s when the difficulties may come.” If you cannot take those few minutes to take a walk, Dr. Ashley said, “standing will get you some of the way there.”

The benefits of physical activity are never all or nothing, Dr. Patel said, but instead exist on a continuum. “It’s a gradual effect of more activity, better health,” he said. “Each incremental step, each incremental stand or brisk walk appears to have a benefit.”

Source: Just 2 Minutes of Walking After a Meal Is Surprisingly Good for You – The New York Times

Critics By Sarah Garone

After a satisfying meal with family and friends, if a little voice inside tells you it’s time to head out for a stroll, you may want to listen. Not only is a walk after eating a pleasant way to enjoy social connection with others, it also offers surprising benefits for your health. From improved digestion to better blood sugar management, a lap around the block (or further) might just be the perfect finishing touch to a meal.

Read on for five reasons to take a walk after breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

May Improve Digestion

The internal nudge you may feel toward getting up and out after a meal might be coming from your gut. Research shows that post-meal movement can actually help you better digest your food.

In a 2014 meta-analysis of 20 studies, walking was associated with faster gastric emptying (the rate at which the body moves food through the stomach).

Though some people may experience indigestion from working up a sweat after eating, overall, physical activity appears to have a protective effect on colon cancer risks, and possibly some other diseases in the GI tract.3 More research is still needed.

May Help Reduce Blood Sugar Levels

People with diabetes or other blood sugar issues could especially benefit from stepping out after mealtimes. A post-meal walk may help steady your blood glucose.

In a small 2013 study, older adults with pre-diabetes experienced better glycemic control from walking after meals than from merely taking a morning walk.

Another study yielded equivalent results, finding that people with type 2 diabetes had better blood sugar measures when they walked after meals, compared to a single daily walk. The most dramatic improvements occurred when walking after dinner.5 Sounds like good reason to take a quick stroll before settling into more sedentary activities for the evening!

May Help Regulate Blood Pressure

You’ve probably heard that exercise is a helpful means of lowering blood pressure. What you may not have heard is that timing brief walks throughout the day (such as after meals) could offer even more results for hypertension than one longer bout of exercise.

According to a 2016 study, the accumulated effects of 10-minute bouts of physical activity significantly brought down diastolic blood pressure in people with pre-hypertension.

Mealtimes can serve as a convenient trigger for working in these shorter bouts of light exercise.

May Reduce Heart Disease Risk

As you work to bring down your blood pressure with after-meal walks, you’ll do your body the additional favor of lowering your risk of heart disease. People who keep their blood pressure within healthy limits have less incidence of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Since 47% of Americans have high blood pressure (and only one in four has it under control), we’d all do well to squeeze in a stroll after mealtimes.7

May Lessen Bloating

Whether you suffer with bloating as a result of occasional overeating, food sensitivities, or irritable bowel syndrome, a walk could be just the thing to tame a distended tummy.

As discussed above, research indicates that the more steps people with IBS get in a day, the less likely they may be to experience adverse symptoms, including bloating. And it’s not just people with IBS who could calm belly bloating with a walk around the block. A four-week study from 2021 found that when people with non-IBS-related bloating went for a 10-15 minute walk after meals, they reported relief.8

When bloating has you feeling uncomfortable after eating, consider a walk as quick, side effect-free treatment.

Related contents:

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Walking club has so many benefits The Telegraph & Argus
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10 Most Important Leadership Skills For The 21st Century Workplace (And How To Develop Them)

With the rise of the gig economy and with many companies adopting flatter, more flexible organizational structures, now is the perfect time to refocus on what good leadership looks like. Because, in our rapidly changing workplaces, leadership will apply to more people than ever before. You may be overseeing a project that requires you to coordinate several team members. Or you may be a gig worker collaborating with other gig workers.

Or you may be occupying a traditional management role. Whatever your job title, this precious ability to bring out the best in people will be a vital part of success.Of course, being a good leader really requires us to polish up multiple skills at once. Here are ten skills that I think are essential for leaders – with a few pointers on how to develop them.

1. Motivating others

The ability to motivate others is all part of inspiring people to be the best they can be. So how can you better motivate others?

· Ensure people know how their role contributes to the company’s vision. That their work matters, basically.

· Be clear on what you need people to do, why, and when. But, importantly, give people the autonomy to accomplish those tasks their way.

· Show your appreciation and celebrate success.

2. Fostering potential

Great leaders look for potential, not performance. Here are three ways to foster potential:

· Don’t fall into the trap of getting people to think and act like you. Encourage them to think and act like them.

· Let people know that it’s okay to fail sometimes. This is all part of inspiring people to take risks, step outside their comfort zone and test new ideas.

· Don’t let people grow complacent. Encourage them to develop their skills and think about the next stage of their career, whatever that may be.

3. Inspiring trust

What makes a leader trustworthy? The following behaviors are a good start:

· Being ethical. This means being honest and transparent, keeping promises, and generally making sure you don’t say one thing and then do another.

· Making your values clear and, of course, living those values.

· Standing up for what you believe in.

4. Taking on and giving up responsibility

Good leaders take on responsibility, but they also know when to let go of responsibility and delegate to others. When doing this, try to:

· Play to the strengths of those around you and allocate responsibility accordingly.

· Ensure people have the knowledge, resources, and tools they need to succeed.

· Decide how you’ll monitor progress without micromanaging. For example, you can agree on how the person will report back to you and how often – as well as the best way for them to raise any questions.

5. Thinking strategically

Strategic thinking requires leaders to take a wider view, so they can solve business problems and make a long-term plan for the future. To enhance your strategic thinking skills:

· Remember the difference between urgent and important. Urgent fire-fighting tasks can suck up a lot of your time and energy, leaving very little bandwidth for those things that are important from a big-picture perspective but not urgent. Constantly remind yourself of your priorities, and manage your time accordingly.

· Use critical thinking to gather data and find solutions to your most pressing strategic questions. For example, “Where will our growth come from in three or five years’ time?”

· Don’t rely on assumptions or gut instincts when answering such questions.

6. Setting goals and expectations for everyone

Setting goals is a great way to drive performance. But have you considered a more dynamic way of setting goals?

· Instead of the traditional, top-down approach (where leadership sets strategic goals, then managers set goals for teams and individuals), you might like to consider the Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) approach.

· With OKRs, leadership sets some strategic OKRs for the business, then each team and individual designs their own OKRs that contribute to achieving the company’s strategic OKRs.

· OKRs should be simple and agile. Forget annual goal-setting; OKRs are typically set on a monthly or quarterly basis.

If you’d like to know more about OKRs, check out my related articles.

7. Giving (and receiving) feedback

Good leaders are able to give and receive feedback, both positive and negative (or, as I prefer to call it, constructive). When it comes to giving people constructive feedback:

· Don’t put it off. You don’t want to overwhelm someone with a loooong list of everything they’re getting wrong. Instead, have a process in place for regular catchups, where you can chat through progress and give feedback.

· Don’t dilute constructive feedback with praise. While it’s important to regularly give people praise, I wouldn’t do it at the same time as constructive feedback. When you sandwich negative comments with a positive comment on either side, there’s a risk the person may only hear the good stuff.

· Be specific, not emotional. Just treat it as a straightforward conversation, using specific, concrete examples instead of opinions or emotions.

8. Team building

A good leader is a bit like a football manager in that they have to pick strong players who perform different roles and then shape those players into a cohesive unit. As part of this:

· Remember, each person will bring their own unique skills and experiences, be motivated by different things, have different working styles, and so on. Embrace this rather than trying to get everyone to behave the same way.

· Model the behaviors you want to see: connecting as human beings, showing an interest, listening to each other, treating people with respect and dignity, and supporting one another.

· Give feedback and reward a job well done.

9. Positivity

If you show up with a negative “this won’t work, that thing sucks, why do we bother” kind of attitude, it’ll soon spread throughout your team. Here’s how to lead from a place of positivity:

· Think carefully about the language you use, verbally and in writing. Use words with positive connotations – turning a “problem” into an “opportunity” being a prime example.

· Celebrate successes, big and small. Highlighting the little wins frequently can be just as impactful as sporadically celebrating the big wins.

· Resist the urge to complain in front of your team. As Tom Hanks says to his band of soldiers in Saving Private Ryan, “Gripes go up, not down. Always up.”

10. Authenticity

For me, being an authentic leader is a key part of building trust. So as well as being ethical (see earlier), you’ll want to:

· Practice self-awareness. A good leader is aware of their weaknesses as well as their strengths.

· Be open about those weaknesses rather than trying to hide them.

· Bring your whole self to work, as opposed to having one persona for work and one outside of work.

To stay on top of future trends and future skills, make sure to subscribe to my newsletter and have a look at my new book, Future Skills: The 20 Skills & Competencies Everyone Needs To Succeed In A Digital World.

Source: 10 Most Important Leadership Skills For The 21st Century Workplace (And How To Develop Them)

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The 4 Digital Skills Everyone Will Need For The Future Of Work

Sound unlikely? I don’t think it’s as crazy as it seems, especially when we think of everything that has changed in the last ten years, like social media, artificial intelligence, and automation.

The work human beings do will continue to shift as some jobs become obsolete and new jobs emerge – and the experience and skill set we’ll need in the future look very different from the ones we need today.

Soft skills will grow in importance as the demand for the things machines can’t do continues to increase. However, the ability to understand and work confidently with technology will still be critical. With that in mind, here are four digital skills you need to cultivate to thrive in the new world of work:

Digital Literacy

Digital literally refers to the skills needed to learn, work, and navigate our everyday lives in our increasingly digital world. When we have digital literacy skills, we are able to interact easily and confidently with technology. This means skills like:

● Keeping on top of emerging new technologies

● Understanding what tech is available and how it can be used

● Using digital devices, software, and applications – at work, in educational settings, and in our everyday lives

● Communicating, collaborating, and sharing information with other people using digital tools

● Staying safe and secure in a digital environment

Data Literacy

We’re currently right in the middle of the fourth industrial revolution, a movement that is defined by many waves of new technology that combine digital and physical worlds. For instance, you’ve probably noticed the flood of “smart” everyday devices on the market today, from watches to thermostats that are connected to the internet.

All of that new technology is underpinned by data – and that’s why data literacy is one of the critical skills we’re going to need in the future.

Data literacy means a basic ability to understand the importance of data and how to turn it into insights and value. In a business context, you’ll need to be able to access appropriate data, work with data, find meaning in the numbers, communicate insights to others, and question the data when necessary.

Technical Skills

“Technical skills” is a broad category these days – it’s not just IT and engineering skills that will be needed in the workplace of the future. As the nature of work changes and workflows become more automated, a wide variety of technical skills are still enormously valuable.

In essence, technical skills are the practical or physical skills needed to do a job successfully. Demand for these skills goes far beyond coding, AI, data science, and IT – although admittedly, those skills are indeed in very high demand. If you’re a plumber, you have technical skills. Same for project managers, carpenters, nurses, and truck drivers.

We will need more specific technical skills in every industry as new technologies come on the scene, so you should be prepared to continually learn and focus on professional development through a combination of training, education, and on-the-job training.

Digital Threat Awareness

Cybercriminals are getting smarter and more nefarious as the world becomes more digital. This means new threats that could have enormous impacts on our personal and professional lives.

Digital threat awareness means being aware of the dangers of being online or using digital devices and having the tools you need to keep yourself and your organization safe.

With so many of our activities happening online (from making doctor’s appointments to ordering Friday night takeaway) happening online, our digital footprints are larger than ever.

Digital threat awareness means understanding the biggest threats in our everyday lives, including:

● Digital addiction

● Online privacy and protecting your data

● Password protection

● Cyberbullying

● Digital impersonation

● Phishing

● Data breaches

● Malware, ransomware, and IoT attacks

In general, lowering the risks of these digital threats means we all need to develop a healthier relationship with technology and teach others how to get the most out of tech and have it enrich our lives without being dominated by it.

To stay on top of future trends and future skills, make sure to subscribe to my newsletter and have a look at my new book, Future Skills: The 20 Skills & Competencies Everyone Needs To Succeed In A Digital World. Written for anyone who wants to surf the wave of digital transformation – rather than be drowned by it – the book explores why these vital future skills matter and how to develop them.

Bernard Marr is an internationally best-selling author, popular keynote speaker, futurist, and a strategic business & technology advisor to governments and companies.

Source: The 4 Digital Skills Everyone Will Need For The Future Of Work

Critics by Deloitte

EMERGING technology is reshaping the world of work. Automation is revolutionizing business models, tools, tasks and delivery modes. Workers can already see the transformation happening, as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and other digital innovations are being used increasingly in the workplace.1 The likely effects of automation are mixed. On the one hand, some jobs are at risk of being fully or partially automated and/ or replaced by robots and AI.

On the other hand, these changes could increase efficiency and access to services. Employers and workers require the necessary digital and soft skills to take advantage of the new opportunities they are expected to face.  However, almost half the population of the EU is considered as lacking basic digital skills3 and one-third of the European citizens reportedly have no or almost no digital skills at all.4 

Approximately 40 per cent of employers are struggling to fill their job vacancies due largely to a lack of necessary skills, while 30 per cent of graduates are working in a job where the competences they acquired at university are not required.5 This skills gap could threaten the stability of the labour market as well as the ability of EU industry to innovate. The challenges of upskilling and reskilling could be imminent for many individuals, businesses and governments.

The dignity, well-being and self-fulfilment of individuals as well as the prosperity of society could depend on it. Within this context, impactful public policies for workers’ inclusiveness are important. In this vein, the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders, including workers, companies, public authorities, education institutions, training providers and social partners6 can be crucial.

The ‘future of skills’ receives considerable attention from governments around the world and stands high on the political agenda of many international organizations. As an example, the EU has adopted an overarching strategy – the New Skills Agenda7 – to tackle a wide range of skills-related challenges. Many of the tools contained in this initiative aim at empowering individuals to develop new skills or to exploit the skills they already have.

Nevertheless, even with the most innovative policies in place and the mobilization of huge public resources,8 the success of any skills strategy depends heavily on the motivation of individuals and their decisions to take a step forward.  Hence, it is of great importance for policymakers and other stakeholders to understand the impact of technological change from the perspective of workers in order to develop effective policy tools to create a future that works for all.

A number of academic studies already shed light on the potential changes in the labour force of the future. This article which presents the opinions of more than 15,000 workers across ten European countries, was designed to contribute to the overall debate by giving voice to the workers themselves and potentially bring them closer to policymakers. This paper provides insights on how the workers surveyed view the impact of new technologies on their work, how they perceive their own preparedness for automation and technological change, and which policy measures they expect from governments and others.

Building on the analysis of workers’ attitudes, the paper concludes with a number of suggestions for further consideration at policy level to address the skills gap and its challenges. Both the EU and national governments aim to close the skills gap and increase digital skills significantly through a wide range of initiatives, one of the most important being vocational education and training. But how do European workers see the need for action in order to equip themselves with all the skills necessary for Industry 4.0?

Even if workers do not perceive a threat of losing their job due to automation, most still expect some changes in the nature of their job and the skills required for it.About 50 per cent of workers surveyed across all sectors believe that automation will give them an opportunity to develop their skills. This is particularly true among respondents with higher levels of education: 57 per cent of those with a university degree hold this view, compared to just 41 per cent of those surveyed with lower educational attainments.

When asked about the expected impact of automation on the nature of their skills, more than 35 per cent of respondents do not think that it will make their current skills outdated, whilst 28 per cent believe that it will. This divergence of opinions may be explained partly by different expectations across occupations.For instance, in the survey results, workers in elementary occupations (e.g. manufacturing labourers, agricultural labourers, etc.11) show a greater tendency to believe that technology will reduce their job opportunities, whereas workers in other occupations tend to disagree with this statement (figure 4).

The expectation among workers that some of their skills may be outdated by technology could influence both the self-perception of their level of preparedness and their motivation to engage in training activiti…

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How To Deal With Work Stress and Actually Recover From Burnout

Mindfulness, detachment, selecting off-time activities with care: Here are evidence-based strategies to achieve healthy work-life balance. There’s job stress, and then there’s the crushing pressure paramedics went through during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. The uncertainty, the dread, the constantly changing protocols, the shortages of personal protective equipment, the multiple calls to the same nursing home — it was almost too much for Kate Bergen of Manahawkin, New Jersey.

“It felt like everything was closing in around us,” Bergen says. “At some point I knew that I couldn’t take any more. Was I headed for a meltdown? Was I going to just walk off the job one day? I was getting very close to that point.”

Instead of quitting, Bergen found a calling. One day while waiting for the next emergency call, she took a picture of herself in her full PPE. The image inspired her to paint a self-portrait poster in the style of World War II icon Rosie the Riveter. The message: “We need you to stay home.”

It was the first in a series of “Rosie” posters of women first responders, an ongoing project that has helped Bergen calm her mind during her downtime. Ultimately, she says, the Rosies helped her withstand the stress of her job and allowed her to show up to work each day with new energy and focus. “They made it possible for me to keep going.”

While workers like Bergen are responding to emergency calls and saving lives, many of us are doing things like responding to emails and saving receipts from business trips. But even for people with jobs in offices, restaurants and factories, there’s an art and a science to making the most of downtime, says Sabine Sonnentag, a psychologist at the University of Mannheim in Germany. The right approach to non-work time can help prevent burnout, improve health and generally make life more livable.

“When a job is stressful, recovery is needed,” says Sonnentag, who cowrote an article exploring the psychology of downtime in the 2021 issue of the Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior.

Workers everywhere are feeling frazzled, overwhelmed and ready for the weekend. With that backdrop, researchers are doing work of their own to better understand the potential benefits of recovery and the best ways to unwind. “Work recovery has become part of the national conversation on well-being,” says Andrew Bennett, a social scientist at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. “There’s a growing awareness that we can’t just keep working ourselves to death.”

At a time when many people are rethinking their jobs (if they haven’t already quit), they should also be thinking about their quality of life away from work, Sonnentag says. “People should ask themselves, how much free time do I have and how much energy do I have for my free time? How do I want to continue my life?”

A weekend paradox

We can all use a chance to unplug and unwind, but here’s the rub: Recovery from work tends to be the most difficult and elusive for those who need it most. “We call it the ‘recovery paradox,’” Sonnentag says. “The odds are high that when a job is stressful, it’s difficult to have an excellent recovery.”

That paradox was underscored in a 2021 analysis that combined results from 198 separate studies of employees at work and at home. Workers with the most mentally and emotionally draining jobs were also the least likely to feel rested and rejuvenated during their off time. Interestingly, people with physically demanding jobs — construction workers, furniture movers and the like — had much less trouble winding down. The surest way to feel lousy after hours, it appears, is to think too hard at work.

Sonnentag authored a 2018 study published in Research in Organization Behavior that helped to explain why the paradox is so hard to escape. People who were more stressed out at work tended to get less exercise and worse sleep, an ideal scenario for feeling less than great. In other words, stressful work can disrupt the very fundamentals of healthy living.

To help workers break out of that destructive loop, researchers are pondering both sides of the work/life cycle. As Sonnentag explains, certain tasks, obligations and workplace cultures make it especially hard to unwind when work is done. Time pressure, the feeling that one is constantly under the gun, is especially disruptive. Jobs in health care, where that time pressure often combines with life-and-death stakes, tend to be especially taxing. Working with customers can be exhausting too, Sonnentag says, partly because it takes a lot of focus and effort to act cheerful and friendly when you don’t always feel that way deep down, a task known as emotional labor.

The demands of work vary widely from one person to the next, and so do approaches to downtime. Recovery is highly individual, and different people will have different strategies. “We don’t have a single prescription,” Bennett says. Researchers have grouped approaches into broad categories, including “relaxation” and “mastery.” Relaxation, a concept that’s easier to grasp than it is to achieve, includes any activity that calms the body and mind, whether it’s walking through a park, reading a good book or watching a zombie hunter movie on Netflix. (Note: The latter may not be an ideal choice if your actual job involves hunting zombies.)

Mastery, meanwhile, can be achieved through any activity that challenges a person to be good (or at least passable) at a new skill. Just as painting helped Bergen cope with stress, workers can find relief in their accomplishments. “Anything associated with learning can be helpful,” Sonnentag says. “It could be some kind of sport or exercise. It can be something like learning a new language or trying new cuisines when cooking.” A 2019 study that followed 183 employees over 10 workdays found that people who achieved some sort of mastery during their off time were more energetic and enthusiastic the next morning.

For people who need a break, the “why” behind a particular activity can be as important as the “what.” A 2013 study that followed 74 workers for five days found that people who spent their off time with activities and tasks that they actually wanted to do — whatever they were — were more lively and energetic the next day than those who felt obligated or forced to do something.

Whether they’re relaxing or creating during their time away from the office, Bennett says stressed-out workers should strive to think about something other than their jobs, a process that psychologists call detachment. (The TV show Severance takes this concept to extremes.) It’s OK to have great ideas in the shower and regale your partner with office anecdotes, but research shows people with stressful jobs tend to be happier and healthier if they can achieve some mental and emotional distance from work.

The benefits of tuning out became clear in a 2018 report involving more than 26,000 employees in various lines of work, including judges, teachers, nurses and office workers. The analysis, coauthored by Bennett, found that detachment was a powerful buffer against work-related fatigue. Workers who said they were able to think about things other than work while at home were less worn out than their colleagues. On the other hand, workers who carried on-the-job thoughts throughout the day were more likely to feel exhausted.

Vacations can also help erase work stress and prevent burnout, to a point. Sonnentag coauthored a 2011 study that used questionnaires to track 131 teachers before and after vacations. The teachers returned to work feeling refreshed and engaged, but those benefits tended to fade after only a month. The post-vacation high was more fleeting for teachers with especially demanding jobs, but it lingered a bit longer for those who managed to fit relaxing leisure activities into their regular routine.

How much vacation is enough? That question is hard to answer, Sonnentag says. While many European workers expect and demand four- or five-week breaks, she says there’s no evidence that such long vacations offer any more chance for recovery than a vacation of one or two weeks. She does feel confident saying that most workers will need at least occasional breaks that are longer than just a weekend, especially if that weekend is largely eaten up by household chores and other non-work obligations.

Perhaps an extra day off each week would make a big difference. That’s the premise driving an ongoing four-day-workweek experiment involving 70 companies in the UK. The businesses, including banks, robotics manufacturers, and a fish and chips restaurant, are all expecting employees to maintain their productivity despite working one day less each week.

The full results won’t be available until 2023, but early data suggest that the four-day workweek has decreased signs of burnout and stress while improving life satisfaction and feelings of work-life balance, reports Wen Fan, a sociologist at Boston College who is helping to conduct the experiment. “The results are very encouraging,” she says.

Fan says it’s too early to know if the employees and companies were able to stay as productive as ever during the experiment, but she notes that most jobs could be done more efficiently with a little extra planning and streamlining. “A lot of time is wasted on distractions and meetings that go on too long,” she says.

No matter how many days a week a person has to work, minibreaks during the day can help, too. A 2020 survey-based study involving 172 workers in the US found that subjects tended to be in better moods and were less emotionally exhausted toward the end of the workday if they had breaks that allowed them to briefly detach from work. The study also tracked mindfulness, the degree to which people are conscious of their present emotions and circumstances.

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They did this by asking the participants how much they agreed with statements such as “Today at work I was aware of different emotions that rose within me.” Employees who were the most mindful were also the most likely to truly check out and relax during their breaks from work.

A 2021 study of college students took a closer look at relaxation and exercise during work breaks. Those who tried progressive muscle relaxation, a low-stress activity that involves tensing and releasing muscles, reported more detachment during the break, while students who got their blood pumping on an exercise bike had more energy for the rest of their day.

Study coauthor Jennifer Ragsdale, now a research psychologist at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Cincinnati, says that a better appreciation for the nuance of work breaks can help people choose the right approach for a given day. “If you need some sort of pick-me-up, you can walk round the building to get your energy going,” she says. “If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can relax.”

As many people have discovered during the pandemic years, it can be challenging to fully check out from work when your living room is also your office. Speaking with at-home workers, Bennett has collected tips for separating work life and life life. Something as simple as wearing a collared shirt or other office attire during work hours and changing into casual wear at the end of the day can help establish boundaries, he says. Using a dedicated laptop for work and putting any work-related materials out of sight at the end of the day can also create much-needed distance.

Ragsdale says that technology can be both an escape and a tether. The same devices that help us play games, listen to podcasts or struggle with online word puzzles also make it possible to receive work emails and other reminders of life outside of the home. Ragsdale cowrote a 2021 commentary calling for more research into the impacts of cell phones on work recovery. “When you’re continuing to be exposed to work through your cell phone, it’s harder for that recovery process to unfold,” she says. The very sight of a work email can trigger thoughts that are just as stressful as the actual job, she adds.

Not many people can completely let go of their phones when they’re at home, but they can take steps to protect themselves from intrusive work pings. “You can adjust your settings in a way that make your phone less appealing,” she says, including turning off notifications for things like email and Twitter.

Bergen can’t be away from her phone when she’s on call, but she can still feel like she’s in her own world when she’s working on a new “Rosie” painting. Psychologists may call it mastery, but for her it’s a validation and an escape. She has recently started painting women first responders who were on duty for both 9/11 and Covid. “I started out painting one thing for myself and it blossomed,” she says. “It’s turned into something beautiful.”

Source: How to deal with work stress — and actually recover from burnout

Related contents:

Bad bosses: Dealing with abusive supervisors

What will it take to fix work-life balance?

Is it time to bring data to managing?

MJ Williams on pre-season ‘stress‘ and working towards Bolton’s Ipswich opener The Bolton News

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How Collaborative Intelligence Can Boost Business Innovation

Source: How Collaborative Intelligence Can Boost Business Innovation – SPONSOR CONTENT FROM MURAL

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