The Smoke-free Smoke-Break

When I started working in the 1970’s smoking was permitted at your desk.   I remember huge computer monitors coated in yellow smoke residue and overflowing ashtrays.

In the mid-1990’s, when smoking in offices was banned in most US states, the smoke-break was conceived.  A few times a day, smokers would get up from their desk and go to the break-room (at first) or outside (after people realized that smoking anywhere inside just moved the smoke around) to have a cigarette or two.

For the most part, I was resentful since I didn’t smoke. How come they get to have breaks?  I don’t smoke, so I don’t get a break? Interestingly, my friend Lori noted that the concept, if you remove the cigarette smoking, was really an excellent idea:  You go outside.  You stare off into the distance.  You take some deep relaxing breaths.  If others are there, you chat a while, then go back inside. Genius!

This is what I now call the smoke-free smoke-break and you need to add some right now to your calendar if you’re working at home.  Set the recurrence for every work day. Use the initials SFSF if you like (it’s not trademarked). It will be only for a few minutes.  I have mine at five minutes before the hour since most of my meetings don’t last the full hour, but usually start at the top of the hour.

Set the timer on your phone for three minutes to start, and you’ll be surprised how long those three minutes will seem.  Don’t do anything else.  Don’t put a load of laundry in.  Don’t wash up the breakfast dishes.  And for sure DON’T LOOK AT YOUR PHONE.

  1. Set a timer for three minutes
  2. Go outside
  3. Stare off into the distance
  4. Take some deep, relaxing breaths
  5. Repeat until the timer goes off

I feel better already!

Photo by Vinicius Altava from Pexels

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