Bringing the benefits of vacation time into the workplace

By Audrey Murray

Spending time off work allows you to recharge your batteries and unwind, away from job-related stress. Studies have found, however, that the positive effects of taking a vacation don’t typically last beyond the first few weeks back on the job. The good news? By establishing some new habits at work, you can reap the benefits of your vacation time for much longer. First stop: the lunchroom!

Talk

Having lunch with co-workers is an excellent way to harness the positive effects of social interaction and lower your stress levels. A recent study suggests that oxytocin—a naturally occurring hormone involved in prosocial behaviour—combined with a social support network may have a protective effect on how we react to stressful situations. All the more reason to spend your lunch hour chatting with colleagues rather than sitting alone at your desk: it might protect you from some of the undesirable consequences of stress, such as cognitive fatigue, lack of concentration and memory loss.

Walk

Physical activity has numerous positive effects on the human brain. However, lack of time—or motivation—can be a significant barrier when it comes to adopting a more active lifestyle. But simply walking at a steady pace for 15 minutes once a day can noticeably improve your cognitive well-being, so why not take advantage of your lunch break to do just that? Ask your colleagues to join you! In addition to being physically invigorating, walking can increase your focus and improve your memory for the rest of the workday.

Relax

Taking a few minutes after lunch to plan the rest of your day is a simple strategy for getting into a calm mindset that’s conducive to productivity. Indeed, allowing yourself a moment to relax and reflect before getting back to work can have a noticeable effect on cognitive function, namely when it comes to emotional regulation, decision-making and stress relief. Techniques like deep breathing and mindfulness meditation are helpful for achieving a more relaxed state. For anyone wishing to try mindfulness meditation, the Headspace app, which offers a variety of short, guided exercises, is a good place to start.

Using your lunch hour to take on new habits at work is an effective and easy way to prolong the positive cognitive effects of vacation time. Get in touch with us to find out how nev can help you and your organization implement tools that foster cognitive well-being and enhance employee performance.