We tend to forget about the ubiquitous, elemental rhythms in our lives. The sun rises and sets, and the tides ebb and flow. We are awake and active, and then we rest. We inhale then exhale. These rhythms create an intrinsic tempo for our lives that is balanced and consistent. Yet, the pace we set for ourselves is all too often erratic and hectic.
Recent findings on happiness and well-being suggest that we ought to consider this essential reliability as we structure our days. Rather than pursuing all-out work for as many hours as possible, followed by break-neck fun in whatever time we have left in the day, we would better to pace ourselves. As such, scheduling “joy breaks” throughout workday can make you happier, healthier, and more productive.
Working for periods of time and then playing aligns with this fundamental tempo in the natural order of things. Aim for two to three hours of work, followed, ideally, by a fifteen-minute joy break. Setting aside the time for this kind of break can help clear your head, reduce your stress, and fill you with delight.
Here are some ideas for joy breaks to get you started:
Daydream: Haven’t had a vacation for awhile? Pick a favorite vacation spot and take some time to imagine how it looks, feels, smells, sounds, and tastes. Who is there with you? Is there music playing? What’s the temperature? While it’s no substitute for the real thing, daydreaming about that adored hideaway or beloved place at the beach can fill you with delight.
Be kind: Guess what? Performing random acts of kindness is one of the best ways to make yourself happy. Use your break to go out of your way to give a little help to someone. Pay a compliment to someone you don’t even know, or send a “thinking of you” email to a friend you haven’t communicated with for awhile.
Laugh: Read the comics or a joke book. Make up a silly song and sing it to yourself. Re-watch a scene from that movie or TV show that makes you cackle until you snort.
Move: Dance. Go for a walk. Jump up and down. Do some stretching. Depending on whether you need to de-stress or stay awake, do whatever feels relaxing or energizing to you–just be sure to make it fun!
Your workplace may not be conducive for all of these ideas, but you can adapt them to suit your needs and your workplace. You can create your own list of “go-to” joys.
Developing your list is easier than you might think. Begin by paying attention to the little things in life that always bring you pleasure. Is it listening to a certain song from your favorite summer growing up? Eating a certain kind of fruit? Petting your cat or dog? Looking at photos of your loved ones? Set a goal of coming up with ten “go-to” joys. You will have them in no time, and soon be adding more of them–along with better health and greater productivity–from high atop cloud nine!