Allow Us to Introduce You to the Concept of “Rest Snacking” — Here’s Why You Should Be Doing It

published Jul 23, 2022
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Someone journaling
Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani; Prop Styling: Carla Gonzalez Hart; Nails: Mamie Onishi; Rug: Courtesy of Aelfie

Working is exhausting but, unfortunately for most people, it’s a total necessity. Come Friday evening, after spending 40-plus hours at an office or switching from Zoom call to Zoom call at home, most people are pretty wiped out. And though getting a full night’s sleep every night can ease some of this fatigue, it can also be helpful to take little breaks throughout the day to keep yourself motivated.

Enter “rest snacking,” a phrase we’re officially coining to encompass all the small ways you can rest throughout the day before getting a “full meal” of actual sleep at night. Whether you only have a few seconds between calls or a bit more flexibility, consider working a few of these rest snack breaks into your daily routine to feel instantly refreshed and a bit more rested.

If You Have 60 Seconds

  • Refill your water bottle. Hydration is important, so pull double-duty by using a quick break to stretch your legs and walk to the sink or water fountain to freshen up your water. 
  • Stand up and do a few stretches. Between back-to-back Zoom calls, take a moment to get up out of your chair and do some basic stretches. Touch your toes, bend side to side, roll your neck, arch your back — whatever feels best to you at that moment. “Taking a few minutes to notice where you might be carrying stress in your body and stretching through it is a great way to reset and refresh throughout the day,” says Laura Sgro, a licensed clinical social worker in California.
Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani; Prop Styling: Carla Gonzalez Hart; Nails: Mamie Onishi; Rug: Courtesy of Aelfie
  • Look away from your computer. Staring at screens for eight hours a day (or, let’s be honest, longer) can be neck and upper shoulders, and anywhere else that feels good.
  • Take a few deep, mindful breaths. Josephine Atluri, a mindfulness and meditation coach, recommends this quick breathing technique to help break up the day: Set a timer for however long you have, then close your eyes. Breathe in for four seconds, hold your breath for five seconds, then exhale for six seconds. Repeat the pattern until your timer goes off, then get back to work.
Credit: tetiana_u/

If You Have 5 Minutes

  • Meditate. Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down (ideally, somewhere that’s not your desk), then close your eyes and focus on your breathing, suggests Atluri. “Observe each breath as it moves in and out of your body,” she says. “Once you feel comfortable, call to mind things, people, or experiences that you are grateful for.”
  • Knead some sourdough bread. This one requires a little advanced prep work, but if you’ve always wanted to dabble in sourdough bread, here’s your excuse to try it. Most sourdough recipes require home bakers to do a quick kneading session — with a technique known as stretching and folding — every hour or so. If you work from home, start your bread in the morning, then set a timer to remind yourself to head to the kitchen to knead.
  • Listen to ASMR sounds or watch a funny video. Laughter may be totally absent from your workday, so give yourself a quick humor break by watching a comedian on YouTube. If ASMR is more your speed, pull up a short video to feel that signature tingling sensation.
  • Eat a snack. Your brain needs food to function at its best, so be sure to set aside time to dopamine boost.
  • Lie down and close your eyes. You don’t have to take a full-on nap — just find a comfy chair or head to your bed, then close your eyes for five minutes. This practice is known as quiet wakefulness and, though it’s not as beneficial as actually sleeping, it can still offer a momentary reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the day. You can also incorporate the mindfulness technique of visualization into this break. “Visualize your happy place,” says Atluri. “Imagine you are in your favorite vacation spot or a place that brings you comfort like your favorite park. Take in all the details in order to make the visualization come to life. Notice the sounds, smells, textures, tastes, and sights.”

If You Have 10 Minutes

  • Run through a quick yoga flow. Whether you’re an experienced yogi or more of a beginner, moving through a quick yoga flow can help get your blood flowing during a long day. There are lots of great videos online and mobile apps to help guide you through. 
  • Do a crossword puzzle. Bonus points if it’s on paper so you aren’t looking at a screen!
  • Chat with a coworker. Not every conversation or virtual interaction with colleagues has to be focused on work. Head to the break room or make a quick coffee run with a coworker simply to ask about their weekend or chat about their latest hobby, says Carly Harris, a licensed marriage and family therapist with Newport Healthcare. “In-person social connection can lower anxiety and depression, help us regulate our emotions, lead to higher self-esteem and empathy, and actually improve our immune systems,” she says. 
  • Grab a coloring book. Tap into your artistic side and blissfully zone out for a few minutes while sketching freehand or shading a picture in a coloring book.
  • Write in a journal. Take a few minutes to write about your feelings, how your day is going, or what you’re looking forward to in a paper journal — and give your eyes a rest from your computer in the process.
  • Pull weeds. Yanking out weeds is incredibly satisfying — you can see your progress as you go — and it’s also a good excuse to spend some time in nature, without your phone. If weeds aren’t part of your work environment, spend a few moments sitting under a tree or intentionally noticing the sights and sounds of nearby birds.
  • Walk around the block. You don’t have to run a marathon to reap the benefits of movement during the workday, says Harris. “A walk around the block, a bike ride, or even a quick virtual fitness class can help break up your day,” she says. “Plus, exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative moods and can boost self-esteem and cognitive function. Getting some exercise outside in the fresh air makes this even more beneficial.”
Credit: Esteban Cortez

If You Have 25 Minutes

  • Take a steamy shower. While working from home or on your lunch break, hop in the shower or the tub for a quick, thought-clearing, body-relaxing soak. Treat yourself to essential oils or a bath bomb so it feels even more like a treat.
  • Listen to a podcast or read a chapter of a book. Engage your mind in something you feel passionate about (just for fun, with no productivity goals in mind) by listening to a favorite podcast or reading a quick chapter of your current book.
  • Take a power nap. Sometimes, a short snooze is exactly what you need to feel re-energized for the rest of the day, says Harris. “This is a quick and proven way to refresh your brain when you hit an afternoon slump,” she says “Research has shown that a short nap can actually improve job performance, boost your memory and your mood, make you more alert, and relieve stress.”
  • Go for a bike ride. Hop on your bike and take a breezy lap around the neighborhood. Or, if you don’t feel comfortable riding in your area or you don’t have a bike, head to the nearest park for a barefoot (if you’d like!) stroll through the grass.
  • Jam out to some music. Throw in your earbuds, pull up the playlist that makes you feel the happiest, and just listen. Go ahead and dance if you feel so inclined or simply enjoy paying attention to the beat and the lyrics. This is also a great option while walking to grab lunch or meandering around the block.

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Here’s What “Rest Snacking” Is — and Why You Should Start Doing It