Do you know that feeling when you’ve been working hard and you “come up for air”?
Suddenly, you realize you’re hungry. Ravenous, in fact. And you have to use the bathroom—urgently.
You’ve been so wrapped up in your work—you were in a state of flow—that you weren’t paying attention to your body.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with this. Being in the zone feels great and is often very productive. But it is possible to go too far.
When you come up for air, if you…
- feel your heart pounding
- notice that your neck and shoulders are stiff
- can hear yourself panting
- find yourself to be clumsier than usual
… then you’ve gone too far. These are stress symptoms.
Having an elevated heart and being out of breath are great when you’ve been playing sports—it means you’ve pushed yourself to be fitter. But they are signs of trouble when in fact you’ve been at work, especially if you’ve been sitting at a desk.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t move around at work. In fact, moving around lowers stress and increases your creativity. Rather, it is the pounding heart you get after sitting still and stressing yourself out that’s so toxic.
Consistently stressing your body and your mind while you’re at work will wreak havoc in the long run. That’s why it’s good to ask yourself, every now and then: do I need a breather?