Your boss just yelled at you for the third time, you missed a deadline, and you barely got any sleep for three days in a row. Lurking questions you’ve had about your career choice come rushing to the forefront of your mind, and your thoughts are inundated with yearnings to snap out at your boss, storm out of the office, and quit your job.
Don’t quit just yet. Why not? Quitting is rash, and despite how it might feel good in the moment, you’ll regret it if you haven’t thought it through. If you’re thinking about quitting your job, read ten good things about your job before you make the decision to jump ship. Jobs are good things, especially in this economy.
First, take a walk. Get up and leave the office for a few minutes. Get up from your desk – yes that’s right, get up right now and walk outside of the office. Open the door and leave. It’s more than likely that no one will miss you. If you need an alibi, pick up your cell phone, look apologetic, and mutter something about the doctor calling or a phone call you need to take. Regardless of how you do it, just get out of your office. When was the last time you took a stroll? Thoughtfully contemplated the world below your footprints? Many people suffer from “over sitting” – spending an agonizing amount of time sitting still behind a desk, only moving their wrists to click the mouse to the computer.
After work or during lunch, get outside and take a walk. Even take laps around your office if you must. Walking is therapeutic, rejuvenating, and basically just very good for you. Some of the best philosophers have professed to doing their best thinking while walking. The motion of the footsteps is rhythmical, repetitive, and meditative. Each step is a gentle massage to the ligaments and joints in our creaky bodies, reminding us that our ankles, thighs, calves (cankles anyone?), hip joints, bellies and shoulders have probably been held tightly up against that computer monitor for far too long.
Now, rest your eyes – or use them in a new way. Another reason to take a walk is to give your eyes a rest from the battery of stimulation assaulting your eyes. Walking is good for your eyes as well as your legs. In many work environments, people spend most of their days looking at things 12″ to 26″ away from them – for upwards of 10 hours per day. Research has shown that reducing the use of our eyes for long-distance horizons (looking at things far away) can weaken our eyes. In addition, too much close-up use or “screen time” can cause eye strain. In the landscape around us, broad panoramas, details in a mid-range (such as crowds, streets, and retail shopping), and in-person social interactions add variety to your eye movements and affect your health tremendously. Why is it that downtown streets are so exciting and popular? Streets provide a density and variety of activity that activate a multiplicity of our senses – visual, physical, aromatic, tactile. Get outside and start participating.
Get some sunshine and fresh air. If it”s possible, make sure you get outside at least once a day. If you’re in a job where you’re already outside, make sure to take some time away from whatever stimuli you’re surrounded by – whether it’s machinery, noise, loud crowds of people, or blank walls. Once you’re out of your office or work space, point your face towards the sunshine, lift up your arms, and stretch out your body. Maybe even bend over and touch your toes. If it’s a particularly stressful day, hang yourself in a body fold for a few minutes. If you can’t bring yourself to do some public stretching (I still laugh at the elderly ladies who do coordinating line dancing in Golden Gate park at 6 AM in the mornings, even though I secretly believe it’s unbelievably awesome!) – then point your feet in a new direction and start walking. Walk it out.
After work: do something different. Part of your rut – or frustration – may be non-work related. Seeking a stress-reducing outlet? Try out a new social group, join a class, or find a gym in your neighborhood. San Francisco is full of activity – finding your niche takes some exploration, but it’s worth it, especially if you’re in a work rut. Ultimately, having a lineup of stress-reducing activities can help boost your focus and enjoyment while at work.
Go back to work refreshed. So now that you’ve taken a break – and reading this article online, sitting in your chair, procrastinating from work DOES NOT count as taking a break (if you’re reading this, put your pencil down, step away from the computer, and go outside and get some fresh air). Now that you’ve actually done yourself the service of taking a midday break, come back, drink a large glass of water, and start at it again.
Taking a break from something is the best way to recover from the stress associated with it. Athletes rest between major workouts, writers rest and revisit (it’s called editing), and employees take paid or unpaid time off of work (also known as vacation). If you’ve been at work for several months without a vacation, look into setting one up – maybe you need a week’s rest from work. But first, try taking a 20 minute “midday vacation.” Go outside, daydream, wander, and return. Perhaps all you needed was to give yourself a few minutes.—
Get my monthly newsletter, not available anywhere else: The SKP Monthly.