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5 Tips to Maximize Work Breaks

Not all work breaks are created equal.
Photo: Shutterstock

When was the last time you took a break from work and didn’t look at your smartphone?

Chances are that rarely happens, and now new research from Aflac, an American Insurance company, shows that checking your phone during your work break is one of the worst ways to recharge. 

The report found 9 percent of employees use their smartphones while on their break, which is not only one of the worst ways to recharge, but it can also actually have the opposite effect, leaving employees feeling more depleted and drained.

Furthermore, additional research from the American Psychological Association shows that not all breaks are created equally. For example, taking 15 minutes to go for a walk can significantly boost your productivity and energy compared to taking a 15-minute coffee break at your desk. 

Laura Putnam is a workplace wellbeing expert, international public speaker, and author of Workplace Wellness That Works. Working with hundreds of organizations and more than 15,000 CEOs and managers to implement workplace wellbeing strategies, she believes we need to shift our mindset from managing our time to managing our energy to get the most out of work breaks. 

To help people feel fully recharged after they take a break from work, Putnam has put together five tips to maximize their work breaks. 

  1. Consider the length and timing of your breaks.  
    Longer breaks are not necessarily better. Shorter, but more frequent breaks, also known as “micro-breaks” are generally better. However, the time of day plays a role. In the morning, it’s better to take shorter breaks. In the afternoon, as our fatigue builds, we need to take longer breaks.
  2.  Change your break location, get outside.
    Stretch at a desk versus get outside for a walk? The latter has a higher recharging potential. A growing body of research shows there are significant benefits to taking a break outside or along a body of water. 
  3.  Include exercise and physical movement in your break.
    Exercise is great for boosting our energy. The benefits are often short-lived, so it’s better to have more mini-exercise sessions over the course of the day as opposed to a once-a-day exercise time.
  4.  Take a break by socializing.
    Spending time chatting with colleagues or a friend discussing a topic unrelated to work can help break your thought process and re-energize you. 
  5.  Take a break with furry friend.
    Break time with a dog has been shown to reduce cortisol levels. Spending time with pets can boost our psychological wellbeing, which in turn boosts our productivity levels. 
About The Author

Julie is the co-founder of Well Defined and a longtime influencer and advocate in the wellness world. Along with her work at Well Defined, she is an executive recruiter and marketing specialist for Hutchinson Consulting. She is also a consultant and content strategist for numerous wellness brands. She is the former editor-in-chief and publisher of American Spa and was named a 2019 Folio Top Woman in Media in the Industry Trailblazers category and a 2018 winner of ISPA’s Innovate Award. She is also a seasoned journalist, specializing in spa, travel, health, fitness, wellness, sustainability, and beauty. She has been published in Departures,, E! Online,, Insider’s Guide to Spas, Luxury Travel Advisor, Marin Magazine, Ocean Home, Smart Meetings, Spa Asia, and Travel Agent.