How to prevent afternoon & post-work fatigue

How to prevent afternoon & post-work fatigue

Achieving the ultimate levels of wellbeing and work-life balance is an enigma HR is constantly trying to crack.

And whilst workplaces are introducing measures to ease pressures, with subsidised gym memberships, free coffee and flexible work patterns, tiredness still manages to impede lives after work.

A new study in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology may have found the remedy to banish those post-work yawns – and it’s all about how lunch breaks are spent.

The researchers surveyed 100 workers in a range of sectors about their lunchtime routines, and questioned their levels of wellbeing, how much they enjoyed their lunchbreaks and how much they were able to detach from work during their break.

They were then asked to change them for ten days in a row - half of the group took a leisurely stroll through a nearby urban park and focused on their natural surroundings, while the other group found a quiet place inside their office building to do a series of relaxation exercises, including deep breathing and mindfulness techniques – TIME reports.

The activities took 15 minutes and were done after the participants ate a quick lunch. 

People in both groups reported that they concentrated better, had less strain and had higher wellbeing on the afternoons they walked or relaxed, in comparison to their usual routines.

Those who walked in the park enjoyed their breaks more. In contrast, those who undertook relaxation exercises didn’t enjoy their lunch breaks any more than their former routine.

Lead Author Marjaana Sianoja, a Researcher at the University of Tampere, said: “We were not sure beforehand whether the benefits would be observable some hours after the break.” However, researchers found that the effects carried into the late afternoon, about 30 to 60 minutes before people left work to head home. These recovery breaks may also help people leave work with more energy, says Sianoja.

The researchers advise those without access to a green or natural environment, to undertake the relaxation exercises as an alternative.  For those who feel their workday is too hectic to take 15 minutes out, Sianoja recommends that: “These types of activities might have potential in maintaining productivity throughout the working day.”

HR Grapevine spoke to Amanda Cullen, an Executive Coach about why it’s important for HR to encourage staff to take a break, to prevent them from suffering from stress: “It’s crucial to make time for lunch and go outside. It’s all too common for busy workers to have desk lunches, but our bodies need regular nourishment and fresh air to function well, so make sure they get fresh air at some point every day, even if it is just a quick walk around the block.”

Comments (1)

  • OT in OH
    OT in OH
    Fri, 14 Apr 2017 6:43am BST
    Relaxation exercises directly after eating is not advised. Your body is trying to digest the food and therefore cannot relax at the same time. That may explain the lack of benefit at lunchtime.

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