SUMMARY: Energizing activities get you ready to tackle the rest of your day after a break. Use these break activities to improve focus and keep yourself productive.

Energy shake

Stand up at your desk, sit on your chair or in a place you’re comfortable, and shake all over!

Why this counts

Shaking all over can have the effect of energizing your body, releasing painful tension in shoulders and arms, and providing a positive mental health break too.

Ideas for this activity were contributed by:

Dr. Callum Peever, Erin Mills Optimal Health.

Play mini putt with coffee cups

  1. Strategically place cups around the office. Use duct tape to stabilize them.
  2. Using a point system for an individual or team challenge, create a course.
  3. Be inventive. You can use a golf club and ball or a stress ball.
  4. Putt the balls towards or into the cups.
  5. Award higher points for more difficult putts. Points can also be based on the number of attempts, therefore the fewer the points the better!

Why this counts

Finding time for playing together can energize a team and help to build camaraderie through healthy competition.

Ideas for this activity were contributed by:

Erika Caspersen, Healthy Workplace Innovator, Innovative Wellness Solutions.

Stairway/Activity challenge

Place a pencil and paper at the top of each floor in the stairway. Challenge team members to put their name on the list each time they pass or go to a different floor. The person who used the stairway most frequently would be recognized either through a staff bulletin or a prize. For those who cannot use the stairs, provide an alternate activity that counts for them.

Why this counts

Paying attention to our energy levels at work is important because it impacts our ability to stay focused, productive and positive.

Ideas for this activity were contributed by:

Angela Fraser, Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission; Liz Gilbert, Health & Wellness Coordinator, Government of Canada; Alan Caplan, Inner Odyssey Retreats and Coaching; Ellis Basevitz, PSB Boisjoli LLP; Kate Lekas, Health Enhancement Coordinator, City of Vancouver; Angela Martin, University of Tasmania; Richard Danielson, Laurentian University.

Mail delivery

Take a break during your workday to personally deliver interoffice mail to co-workers by walking or wheeling. This gives you the double benefit of some face-to-face time with people you might not see every day and an energizing break in your workday.

Why this counts

Just 10 minutes of exercise a day can have some real health benefits. In addition, strengthening work relationships is good for your mental health, giving you the opportunity to feel valued, supported and connected at work.

Ideas for this activity were contributed by:

Angela Marchbank, Fitness & Wellness Coordinator, University of Prince Edward Island.

Get twisting

There's nothing like a good old hula-hoop to get you moving and laughing. The hula- hoop can be used with arms sitting down or around the hips standing up.

Why this counts

Paying attention to our energy levels at work is important because it impacts our ability to stay focused, productive and positive. Laughter is great medicine!

Ideas for this activity were contributed by:

Sharon Stodel, Accounting, New Vista Society; Tracey Hawthorn, Work Re-Integration & Accommodation Program Coordinator, UBC Okanagan; Mirjana Jotovic, Return to Work Coordinator, University of British Columbia; Sandra Kokorudz, Human Resources Advisor, Engagement & Wellness, Coastal Community Credit Union.

Dance at your desk

Download some favourite tunes, put on some headphones and move – or dance – around your workspace. You choose the moves but enjoy the energizing, freeing experience of getting away from your work and moving to music you love. Remember to put a Do not disturb the dancing sign on your door!

Why this counts

Music, particularly music we love or that brings back fond memories, can inspire and energize us. Add in some exercise and you have a recipe for reducing stress.

Ideas for this activity were contributed by:

Catherine Droesbeck, Health Promotion Lead, Heart and Stroke Foundation Nova Scotia; Joan Burton, Co-chair, Ontario Healthy Workplace Coalition; Kathy Nolan, Health & Benefits Consultant, Kwantlen Polytechnic University; Sandra Kokorudz, Human Resources Advisor, Engagement & Wellness, Coastal Community Credit Union; Vivienne Welters, Executive Director Western Canada.

Benefits of water

Remember the 8 x 8 rule. Eight glasses of eight ounces of water each a day helps keep you hydrated and energized. In warm working environments using a spray bottle mister helps keep you cool and your skin hydrated.

Why this counts

Lack of water can lead to dehydration and can drain your energy making it harder to focus for the rest of the day. Spraying water on the skin by misting helps to cool the body and increase comfort.

Ideas for this activity were contributed by:

Sandra Kokorudz, Human Resources Advisor, Engagement & Wellness, Coastal Community Credit Union; Alan Caplan, Inner Odyssey Retreats and Coaching; Ellis Basevitz, PSB Boisjoli LLP; Kate Lekas, Health Enhancement Coordinator, City of Vancouver; Angela Martin, University of Tasmania; Richard Danielson, Laurentian University.

Energy drink

Bring that unused blender to work with fruits and veggies to whip up your favourite smoothie for a break time snack.

Why this counts

Healthy snacks made with natural ingredients can boost your energy and your hunger until mealtimes, helping you stay more focused and productive.

Ideas for this activity were contributed by:

Angela Marchbank, Fitness & Wellness Coordinator, University of Prince Edward Island.

Connect with loved ones

Take a moment to text or call a loved one.

Why this counts

Spending time connecting with those who love us can help boost our overall well-being.

Ideas for this activity were contributed by:

Valerie Hunter, Senior Rehabilitation & Work Life Consultant, University of Alberta.

Stretch at your desk

Some of the activities you can do in your workspace include:

  1. Adjusting your space so you can stretch and move as you work
  2. Doing arm raises with a heavy stapler or paperweight
  3. Sitting at your desk raising your legs

Why this counts

Paying attention to our energy levels at work is important because it impacts our ability to stay focused, productive and positive.

Ideas for this activity were contributed by:

Jennifer Krueger, Canadian Regional Director, Global Corporate Challenge (GCC); Jennifer Workman, Health Promoter, Region of Peel; Nicole Rusling, Health Promoter - Workplace, Niagara Region Public Health; Morris Lowe, Public Health Nurse, Toronto Public Health; Andrea Hamblin, Director - EAP Account Management, Morneau Shepell.

Play catch!

Keep a play box of simple sports activities in the office: Frisbees, foam balls, basketballs, soccer balls or even balloons. Take your breaks during the day to “play” for 10-15 minutes outside or if space allows inside during colder months.

Why this counts

Finding time for playing together can energize a team and help to build camaraderie through healthy competition.

Ideas for this activity were contributed by:

Duff McCutcheon, Human Resources Professionals Association; Kathy Nolan, Health & Benefits Consultant, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Anne Winters, Manager, Interior Health; Sharon Stodel, Accounting, New Vista Society; Tracey Hawthorn, Work Re- Integration & Accommodation Program Coordinator, UBC Okanagan; Mirjana Jotovic, Return to Work Coordinator, University of British Columbia.

Break away

Have your exercise gear at the ready. The idea is to sneak in an activity, 10 minutes at a time, whenever you can throughout your workday. This could include walking or wheeling to or from work, and during breaks or at lunch.

Why this counts

A little bit of fitness can go a long way to reducing stress and providing you with the energy you need to be more productive and happier throughout the day.

Ideas for this activity were contributed by:

Anita Sieben, Healthy Workplace Specialist, City of Brampton.

Walk or wheel to wellness

Put together a list of indoor and outdoor routes to suit different workday schedules and needs. Use pedometers or odometers to measure your distance and set goals for the distances you want to achieve. Your daily step-count goal should be:

  • Appropriate for your current life situation
  • At a realistic level that you can maintain over time
  • Recorded daily, to help keep you motivated to be active

Why this counts

Getting out for a walk or wheel every day on your way to and from work, or on your lunch hour or break, is a no fuss way to sneak some exercise into your day as well as a great way to catch up with your busy co-workers.

Ideas for this activity were contributed by:

Jennifer Gray, Physical Activity Specialist and Lisa Beaudoin, Workplace Health Promotion Specialist, Hamilton Public Health; Andrea Hamblin, Director - EAP Account Management, Morneau Shepell; Sarah Schuster, Client Relationship Manager, Global Corporate Challenge; Jennifer Workman, Health Promoter, Region of Peel; JoAnne Ramos, Senior Account Manager, Shepell.fgi; Katie Cino, Health Promoter, Niagara Public Health.

Exercise at your desk

Schedule time on your calendar every day to take a few minutes to stretch and relax with some calming and energizing activities. Invest in a set of headphones and follow the directions in each of these videos provided courtesy of the Alberta Centre for Active Living.

Yoga @ your desk
Stretching at Your Desk

Why this counts

Paying attention to our energy levels at work is important because it can have an impact on our ability to stay focused, productive and positive.

Ideas for this activity were contributed by:

Jennifer Gray, Physical Activity Specialist and Lisa Beaudoin, Workplace Health Promotion Specialist, City of Hamilton; Vancouver Disability Management Services Office, The Canada Life Assurance Company.

Brainstorm while you walk or wheel

When you're really busy at work you can combine the need to talk about issues or share or create ideas with a walk or wheel in the fresh air or a designated indoor walking route.

Why this counts

Everything is better with a clear head. Briskly walking or wheeling increases blood flow and may actually help generate ideas. You can even carry a recorder to catch it all.

Ideas for this activity were contributed by:

Sandy Richardson, Public Health Nurse, Middlesex London Health Unit.

Move to the music!

Download some favourite tunes, pick a regular meeting spot and time, and then get the gang together for 10 minutes or so to twist and shout together. Get different team members to lead in their favourite style. Maybe it's a Congo line or a Zumba break!

Why this counts

Moving to music energizes our bodies and our minds. It can help us to see each other in another light with good-natured humor. It defuses stress and allows people to get on with their day.

Ideas for this activity were contributed by:

Catherine Droesbeck, Health Promotion Lead, Heart and Stroke Foundation Nova Scotia; Joan Burton, Co-chair, Ontario Healthy Workplace Coalition; Kathy Nolan, Health & Benefits Consultant, Kwantlen Polytechnic University; Sandra Kokorudz, Human Resources Advisor, Engagement & Wellness, Coastal Community Credit Union; Vivienne Welters, Executive Director Western Canada.

Compliment a colleague day

Set a day in your calendar each week to think about the positive things your colleagues have done and send a compliment to them by email, voice mail or walk over to them to do this personally.

Why this counts

Receiving recognition for the work we do or just how we've helped others can lift our spirits and reduce our stress levels. When we give compliments, we also experience a boost to our own well-being, which can have a positive effect on our mental health.

Ideas for this activity were contributed by:

Halifax Disability Management Services Office, The Canada Life Assurance Company.

Go the distance

Make choices that take you away from your desk. This can mean sending your print job to a printer at the other side of the office, using the washroom farthest from your desk, planning a face-to-face meeting with a colleague on another floor, or keeping your water bottle half full in order to get up and fill it more frequently.

Why this counts

Those extra steps you take can help contribute to better health by making you more active and giving you an energizing break throughout the day.

Ideas for this activity were contributed by:

Carla Hanna, Health Promoter, Halton Region Health Dept.; Dianna Conley, Director, Human Resources, George Derby Centre; Mary Beth Doyle, EAP Coordinator, Public Service Commission, Gov NL; Charlene Mo, Workplace Health Consultant, Alberta Health Services.

Practice strengths spotting

Take a few minutes to think about then write about a colleague’s character strengths. Are they kind? Are they fair? Do they show their creative side?

  1. Labeling. Name the strengths you notice in them. What do you observe?
  2. Explaining. Give an explanation/rationale for the strength. What is the evidence you observe?
  3. Appreciating. Express appreciation/affirmation. How might you convey that you value the person’s strength expression?

Why this counts

Positive relationships. Connection. Strengths spotting helps us to focus on what is good in others and ourselves.

Don’t know your character strengths? Take the free assessment.

http://beingpukka.pro.viasurvey.org

Ideas for this activity were contributed by:

Susan Kuz, BComm, CAPP, Positive Psychology Practitioner, http://beingpukka.com/

Virtual scavenger hunt

While working virtually, pull together the team for an energizing 10 to 15-minute virtual scavenger hunt. Create a scoring sheet in advance with the names of participants and items that might be found in each participant’s home and are relevant to the team. Use a timer set at 60 seconds to know when the time’s up. You can play for points or play for fun.

Why this counts

Connection. Exercise. Togetherness. Breaks like this can promote team connectivity as well as promote movement in a work-from-home environment.

For the full activity, directions and rules - download our digital break box.

Ideas for this activity were contributed by:

The Workplace Strategies for Mental Health team