It’s the middle of the afternoon and you’re weary. You’ve just re-read the same paragraph three times and you still don’t know what it means. You look up at the clock on the wall only to have all your hopes dashed when you discover there are still two hours remaining in the work day. You want to go home but you really need this job – so you settle for a tea break instead. If this scenario is familiar to you, you’re not alone.
According to a recent survey conducted by Lipton Tea, a large majority of Australians (82 per cent) feel they can’t keep focused at work for the whole day, and 53 per cent feel they can’t keep focused for a total of five hours over the entire day.
The survey also revealed that when faced with the option of losing either a regular tea break, a gossip with work colleagues or Friday night drinks, more Australians would prefer to give up their after work drinks or gossip.
The *Lipton T.E.A. (Tea breaks for Every Australian) Report says Australians are taking up to three tea breaks a day. Forty per cent of those surveyed said they take tea breaks with friends or colleagues, a further 40 per cent take tea breaks while working or multi-tasking, and 18 per cent take tea breaks alone as time out to enjoy silence and solitude. Only one percent of those surveyed said they felt guilty about taking a tea break at work.
Nutritionist Catherine Saxelby says the mid-afternoon slump is a universal experience. The Italians and the Spanish take a siesta, whilst the rest of us dive into the biscuit tin.
“The mid-afternoon slump is when a lot of chocolate and biscuits get eaten as people look for a quick energy boost,” Catherine said in a recent telephone interview with Australian Women Online.
The *Lipton T.E.A. Report also shows that work related stress is on the increase in Australia. Nine out of ten Australians say they experience some level of stress during the work day. And for many the stress of the work day begins the moment they leave the house.
Catherine Saxelby says with so many of us spending an hour or more sitting in traffic or riding on crowded public transport, it is not surprising that people need a lift during the work day.
“I think another reason so many of us are experiencing a mid-afternoon slump is because the emphasis is on using our brain (as opposed to manual labour). What I’ve noticed as a Nutritionist is the increasing emphasis on how food can affect your mood and what you need to eat for brain power as opposed to just looking after the physical body,” she said. “We are seeing a shift in focus toward optimising brain function and concentration.”
“Tea is an important source of fluids and is a source of flavonoid antioxidants. Tea also contains theanine which helps you to feel relaxed and yet alert throughout the day”.
Catherine Saxelby added, “Diet is only one part of managing stress. Much depends on how much exercise you do, what type of music you listen to and how much stress you have in your life – these are also important.”
Catherine Saxelby’s top 5 tips to get you through the working day with focus and concentration:
1. Stop for a tea break to refresh and revive. Tea’s theanine works to keep you alert yet relaxed over the day.
2. Take a stretch break every hour you work on the computer. This sends fresh oxygenated blood to your head, neck and shoulders.
3. Take time to really relax during your lunch break. Take a power nap or visualisation break for 10 minutes. Simply lie your head down on your arms on your desk, close your eyes and either sleep (if you can) or do a quick meditation to clear your head. Visualise yourself somewhere relaxing (such as a beach or a running creek) and allow yourself to relax and unwind in nature.
4. Give your eyes a regular break from the computer screen. Gaze far away onto the horizon. Or rub your hands together to warm them up and hold them over your eyes for a few minutes. You’ll feel recharged!
5. Don’t email your colleague across the room. Get up and talk to her/him.
* The Lipton T.E.A Report, conducted by Galaxy Research, July 2008. The Lipton T.E.A. Report was based on a survey of 407 full time and part time employees aged between 25-49 years.