Sometimes, you just need a break, a chance to clear your head. The American workplace can be just plain stressful sometimes—here are the signs that you’re probably more stressed than you realize. You should be standing up from your desk to stretch regularly for your health anyway, so you take a stroll around the office real quick. As you come to the elevator bank, Carol from H.R. asks “Going down?” You shrug, and think to yourself, sure, why not take a walk outside for a bit, what’s the worst that could happen?
Next thing you know, you check your watch and realize you’ve been out of the office for an hour and also you’re standing in the ball pit at a local McDonald’s. You might think that the work day is suddenly lost, your routine has been scattered and thrown out of whack, your productivity shot for the day. Not so fast, says Dr. Tara Stewart speaking to Fast Company.
Stewart, a neuroscience specialist, is a vocal advocate for the four-day work week, but until you can convince management of mega-weekends, she recommends playing hooky from work on the occasion. Work stress and perceived unfair treatment at work restricts blood flow in your brain and switches it into survival mode.
Ditching work allows blood to start flowing to other regions of your brain which are responsible for higher productivity and better interpersonal work habits. Stewart labels your brain as the CEO of your body.
“If you knew how your CEO thinks, what their values are, or how they like to work, you’d be able to give them the best piece of work that you can. It’s exactly like that with your brain. The more you know about how it works, the more you can get out of it,” says Stewart.
So, quick! Make use of that scarecrow you have hidden in your desk and head off to the arcade for a spell. If you have vacation days stocked up, use them (but only for a vacation of this length). Or, if your boss is watching you like a hawk, try out this stress-relieving activity right at your desk—it’s proven to work!