• Sophie H. Janicke, Ph.D.

The Importance of #RealBreaks at Work

Do you know anyone who eats lunch in front of their computer? Are you a person that handles private matters on their phones during lunch breaks? Are you on FB while sitting in the cafeteria? So really: Do you ever take a break and "just be" with what is in the present moment? No? Well, I wasn’t either until 2 years ago where I started a #RealBreak challenge for myself where I would eat away from my computer, if possible outside, and I would unplug from technology for at least 15 minutes. I would not read, not text, not call, not lurk around social media and it changed my life.

Not only was I more relaxed afterwards I also was able to concentrate much better, had more motivation to go back to work after lunch, and who doesn’t know the dreaded feeling of “oh no I don’t want to go back to work now, I am tired ect.” and I felt much more creative. The down time allowed me to come up with solutions for problems and thus made me much more productive overall.

I wanted to share my experience and created a FB group called #RealBeak and had a 2 week challenge for people to try the same thing. It turned out it was not easy at all. Everybody seemed so wired to their technologies and so busy constantly they could not make time for 15 minutes a day to unplug. WOW, I mean really? You have time to slack on FB for 15 minutes but not take a #RealBreak?

While the science speaks for itself, showing the importance of RealBreaks in the workplace to increase not only our attention and productivity and recharge our self-regulation batteries, but also problem solving and creativity.

So how can we bring a RealBreak culture into our workplaces?

How can we shift peoples consciousness from a FOMO to MOOM-Missing out on the Moment mind: Moments of the beauty of here and now, moments of relaxation, moments of being unplugged and having real f2f connections, awe experiences, silence, and even solitude.

Our culture hands out guilt tickets for people who work less, take breaks or, god forbid, a vacation. But the research is unambiguous about how our circadian clock works in terms of productivity that does not line up with the standard 8-5 work weeks we have implemented after the industrial revolution. I wonder if we can change the work culture like this from the inside out. Starting with taking RealBreaks without feeling guilty about them, realizing how much more fun and efficient the workflow is afterwards.

The Energy project is a company that is doing exactly that. They design ways for people and companies to work better, with more breaks and thus more mental relaxation in order to create even greater things. I wonder if we can create a movement around taking #RealBreaks at work.

In the end it comes down to a consciousness shift that eliminates the guilt that comes with what looks like slacking of, aka taking breaks.

And maybe technology can assist us here: It could remind us that we are Missing out on the Moment (MOOM). Maybe that could be a pathway to get us all more aware of the beauty around us that is non digital? The beauty of solitude and becoming aware how during breaks our mind is capable of amazing things? It is one thing to get employees on the meditation cushion (see also wisdom 2.0 conference for mindfulness at the workplace) but another to have them take an efficient unplugged #Realbreak which can include dancing around, talking to a friend over lunch, mindfully eating, going for a walk, doing chair yoga or meditating.

I want to see a world where MOOM comes before FOMO and RealBreaks before FakeBreaks.

So let’s do it. Iam now devoted to not only at least one #RealBreak during my work days, but also get others on board. So I created the group #RealBreak on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/RealBreak/ for you to change your habits towards not Missing Out on the Moments anymore.

Share your RealBreaks on Facebook or @SHJinspire (Twitter and Instagram) #RealBreak


Atsunori Ariga, Alejandro Lleras. Brief and rare mental 'breaks' keep you focused: Deactivation and reactivation of task goals preempt vigilance decrements. Cognition, 2011; DOI:10.1016/j.cognition.2010.12.007

Kalina Christoff, Alan M. Gordon, Jonathan Smallwood, Rachelle Smith, and Jonathan W. Schooler. Experience sampling during fMRI reveals default network and executive system contributions to mind wandering. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2009; DOI:10.1073/pnas.0900234106

#httpvimeocom38805205 #happiness #RealBreak #productivity #unplugging #eating

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