Managing your energy throughout the day will determine if you feel good, get your work done, and have enough get-up-and-go left over to have fun with your family and friends after work. Believe it or not, your energy level is one of the only things you have control over. Some behaviors decrease your energy (like eating too much sugar or sitting in front of a computer for too many hours without a break) and some behaviors increase your energy (like taking time for a healthy lunch and positive self-talk). When we have energy, we will feel a lot of vitality. “Vitality” has been defined as having significant energetic resources and feeling enthusiastic and alive.
Most people I talk to say that their workday is too busy and they have too much to do—a set up for being burned out and fatigued. That’s why it’s more important than ever to find ways to replenish your energy on a regular basis. Taking “micro-breaks” that give you “momentary recovery” at work help you save time and energy in the long term.
However, not all breaks are the same. Research on breaks at work demonstrate that smoking and getting a cup of coffee is detrimental to your health and rest breaks and physical activity during breaks tend to improve your health. In fact, more frequent breaks that include rest or simple flexibility and strength exercises are associated with fewer injuries and accidents; less fatigue, anger, and depression; and increased mood.
And, meditation matters. According to a study in the Academy of Management Perspectives (Fritz, Lam, and Spreitzer, 2011), out of 22 other strategies, meditation was the only “micro-break” that increased a person’s vitality during the workday. Meditation was compared to things such as “drink water, have a snack, drink a caffeinated beverage, check and send personal emails and text, shop, nap, and physical activity.
In the same study, it was discovered that the work-related activities that improve vitality are to learn something new, focus on what gives you joy in your work, set a new goal, do something that will make a colleague happy, make time to show gratitude to someone you work with, seek feedback, reflect on how you make a difference at work, and reflect on the meaning of your work.
My suggestion would be to meditate for a few minutes at some point during the day. Afterward, spend your day learning, building positive relationships at work, and reflecting on the meaning of what you do. Oh.. and the thing NOT to do is “vent about a problem.” That apparently really sucks your energy. So the next time you feel like complaining, stop, close your eyes, and do a mini-meditation. Don’t you feel better already?