Introducing "the Pause" As A Step Towards Wellness

Issue 46

It is no surprise we are seeing an increase in work related stress and illness. With redundancies happening all the time, more and more companies seem to be operating on skeleton staff.

Pressure is high, budgets are tight and there seems to be a palpable air of tension within most organisations. There is a big call to action asking for companies to engage in wellbeing services for their staff. Big corporations, with larger budgets, have successfully implemented a range of workplace wellbeing services, leaving the smaller companies struggling to keep up. Cost effective steps that implement workplace wellbeing strategies can be introduced effectively without costing too much money. In a previous article we introduced the concept of the ‘quiet room’. Today we would like to introduce ‘the pause’.

The pause is where staff take a five minute pause from their activities, a minimum of three times a day. Research has shown that sitting in the same position for an extended period of time, causes strain within the musculoskeletal system causing ligaments and other structures to compensate for poor posture. This causes more wear and tear, increasing inflammation resulting in discomfort and pain throughout the body. ‘The pause’ will not only help employees manage symptoms arising from physical stress, but will help them navigate through some of the emotional responses they are experiencing due to it. Instilling a culture where employees understand the importance of stepping away from their desk when they feel the pressure is rising for them can be invaluable. Stepping away gives their body a physical break and a mental break from the stress and helps them re-charge for the rest of the day. This is content which is delivered in our posture lunch and learn – which is a great way to deliver informative wellness messages to employees, helping them make small changes which have an impact on wellness.

Studies have shown that taking regular breaks can:

– Increase productivity. While taking breaks might sound counterintuitive when it comes to boosting productivity, it’s one of the best ways to do so. Employees gain focus and energy after stepping away from their desks. A lunch break can help prevent an unproductive, midafternoon slump.

-Boost creativity. Taking a break can give employees a fresh perspective on challenging projects. It’s hard for employees to develop new ideas or solutions when they’ve been looking at the same thing all day. A lunch break will most certainly help get those creative juices flowing.

-Boost motivation. Overwhelming feelings drain our passion for the work we are engaged in.

-Improve job satisfaction. Stress reduces our feelgood hormones resulting in less joy and satisfaction at work. When an employee is experiencing low job satisfaction, their job engagement also reduces.

Changing the work mindset around taking breaks is important for this model to work as studies show that:

-Nearly 20% of workers worry their bosses won’t think they are hardworking if they take regular breaks, while 13% worry their coworkers will judge them.

-40% of employees are opting for reduced work hours instead of a lunch break.

We are not designed to work under high stress levels for the length of time we do. We need short, regular breaks, through the day to help us reset and recharge, as without these we will be seeing more work-related physical and mental health problems.

During ‘the pause’, employees can practice healthy habits like, stretching, going for a brisk walk along the corridor or climbing a flight of stairs, rehydrating with a glass of water, mindfully sipping their tea/ coffee, practicing relaxing breathing techniques or meditating.

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