Time is money, and whether it’s yours or someone else’s, it’s valuable. That being said, you’re not at your most effective when you’re constantly focusing on tasks without stepping away. It used to be that when we left our jobs, we were done working, but that’s just not the case anymore.
You may not have the time to unplug, unwind, take a week’s walk through the Pyrenees or even a two-hour candlelit bath, but if you have seven minutes, you have enough of a break to make a difference.
-Mini-meditation: sit comfortably, and breathe in slowly. Hold it for four counts, release it for four counts, and breathe in again for four counts. As you continue to do this, visualize each vertebrae and muscle from your tailbone where you sit up through the crown of your head, unhinging, relaxing, loosening. Seven minutes of this should have you feeling nice and relaxed.
-Fantasy trip: Spend seven minutes googling (and oogling) your dream vacation spots. Studies have shown that test subjects that viewed pleasing images of travel destinations showed lower pulse and blood pressure. Bonus points for actually planning the trip [For a list of apps to help you plan that trip in less than 7 minutes, click here!]
-List-making: some people find this relaxing. You might see it as an additional task that keeps you tethered to working, rather than a break. Seeing everything laid out in front of you might make it easier to prioritize, and take some of the anxiety away. Try this approach: if you’re overwhelmed, write down everything that needs to get done. Then write down everything you’d like to do (that you’d ENJOY doing). I guarantee that within about seven minutes, you can cross one item off of each side, and that overwhelming sense of accomplishment just might be relaxing too.
-Get physical: in seven minutes, you could do all but the last sixty seconds of that perennial favorite Eight Minute Abs, you could take your dog for a walk, you could run up and down the stairs a few times and really get that heart-rate going, or any number of brief yet demanding physical activities. Research suggests that any physical activity that raises the heart rate for minutes at a time can improve mood, relieve depression, and increase feelings of well-being. No need to train for a triathlon, just get moving!
It’s daunting to think of walking away from your work, especially if you’re on your own clock as an entrepreneur, but by taking a step back and returning refreshed to the task at hand, you’ll be doing yourself (or your employer!) a favor.