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Taking Breaks at Work for Healthier Hearts

Aug 17, 2007
We've all been there.

Bombarded by work, email, phone calls or tedious tasks.

Some of us find time to relax on weekends, but the majority of us need a little R&R periodically throughout the week.

MSNBC did a little researching on the topic with an editorial called "Relax or Die: Lack of Weekend R&R puts Hearts at Risk". This article suggests that those who are not able to (or just plain don't try to) relax on the weekends are more likely to die from a cardiovascular disease, such as heart disease or stroke.

Researchers in Finland studied a group of nearly 800 workers for 28 years. Their study reveals that out of their subjects, those who failed to find time to recover from their workweek on weekends were more likely to eventually die of cardiovascular disease.

The theory, as related by Dr. Mika Kivimaki, the leader of the study, is as follows:

If people are not able to relax periodically or on weekends, plaques can build up in their arteries (major channels that blood is pumped through), leading to blockages (bad), which contribute to potential heart attacks and or strokes (dangerous and often fatal), a culmination of events known in the medical field as underlying atherosclerosis.

This may take years to build up, and there are many factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease. However, this study did not take the usual suspects that lead to heart risk into account such as cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, inactivity, or mental and emotional strain such as stress or depression.

I'm not a doctor by any means, but I think that we could all take small steps each day to avoid stress or at least counteract it.

What can do you to relax when you are at work?

A brisk walk on a lunch break, deep breathing exercises, laughing, prayer, and surrounding yourself with calming elements, for example, family photos or ambient music, are excellent ideas.

Cut down on caffeine, think positive thoughts, and take a minute for yourself when you need one.

Something that I do every so often is visit a blog that is completely unrelated to the voice industry, the field that I work in.

My sister-in-law Lisa, a graphic designer, introduced me to a series of blogs from the design industry that she researches on a regular basis.

While she prefers to gather information and ideas, I just let the colors, patterns, images, domesticity, and design layouts entertain me and alleviate any minor stresses that crop up.

If you need to get away for a minute or two and can't leave your desk, try visiting websites that cater to your hobbies or lifestyle.

Take a moment to unwind each day while on the job. Your heart and loved ones will thank you.
About the Author
Stephanie Ciccarelli is the VP of Marketing with Voices.com, the voice over marketplace hosting more than 7,000 professional voice talents. Stephanie is also the author of The Definitive Guide To Voice-Over Success.
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