HomeBlogLeadership Mental Health & WellbeingTake a Break! Leaders Need to Decompress During Meetings

Take a Break! Leaders Need to Decompress During Meetings

In the relentless pace of the business world, where back-to-back meetings have become the norm rather than the exception, leaders often find themselves depleted, significantly impacting their decision-making abilities, creativity, and overall performance. The art of decompressing mid-meetings thus becomes an essential skill for maintaining effectiveness throughout the day. Here are several strategies aimed at helping business leaders stay refreshed and focused, even on their most hectic days, now refined with additional insights on their benefits, including statistical validations where available.

1. Implement Mini-Breathers in Business Meetings

One of the most straightforward ways to decompress without leaving the meeting room is to practise mini-breathers. This involves taking deep, slow breaths for a minute or two, focusing on your breathing pattern to help clear your mind and lower stress levels. Mini-breathers can be done discreetly and are incredibly effective at resetting your mental state. Research suggests that controlled breathing can reduce cortisol levels, the stress hormone, thus enhancing your ability to think clearly and remain calm under pressure.

2. Leverage the Power of Visualisation

Visualisation is a powerful technique for relieving stress and improving focus. During short breaks or in moments when you’re not actively engaged, visualise a calming scene or a successful outcome of your meeting day. This mental break can help reduce anxiety and boost your confidence. Studies have shown that visualisation can improve mood and reduce heart rate, signalling a decrease in stress levels.

3. Incorporate Physical Movement

Whenever possible, incorporate some physical movement between meetings. Stand up, stretch, or take a brief walk around the office. If you’re attending virtual meetings, you might do some quick exercises like jumping jacks or a brief yoga sequence. Movement helps to release tension, increase blood flow, and reduce the physical symptoms of stress. According to a study by the a leading Psychological Association, short bouts of exercise can improve mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood by improving self-esteem and cognitive function.

4. Practise Mindful Listening

Mindful listening is not only beneficial for effective communication but also acts as a form of decompression. By fully engaging with the speaker and focusing on understanding their perspective, you can shift away from your stressors and give your mind a break from the pressures of leadership. This requires discipline but can be highly rewarding. Mindful listening has been associated with improved emotional intelligence and greater empathy, enhancing leadership qualities.

5. Use Tactical Hydration

Never underestimate the power of hydration. Drinking water throughout your meetings not only keeps you hydrated but also offers a moment of pause and refreshment. Consider infusing your water with lemon or cucumber for an added refreshing effect. Hydration is linked to improved concentration and cognitive function, making it easier to navigate through demanding schedules.

6. Optimise Your Schedule

While not always within your control, optimising your schedule to include short breaks between meetings can make a substantial difference. Use this time to step outside, meditate, or engage in a brief activity that you find relaxing. Even a 5 to 10-minute break can significantly enhance your ability to decompress. A study published in the “Journal of Applied Psychology” found that short breaks during the workday can significantly reduce stress and improve overall job satisfaction.

7. Employ Technology Wisely

There are numerous apps designed to aid in relaxation and stress management. Utilise technology by setting reminders to take breaks or by using a mindfulness app for a quick mid-meeting meditation session. These tools can be especially helpful in maintaining your decompression routine. Regular use of mindfulness apps has been shown to decrease stress and improve wellbeing.

8. Cultivate a Supportive Environment

Finally, the importance of a supportive meeting environment cannot be overstated. Encourage open communication, mutual respect, and the sharing of decompression techniques among your team. A supportive environment not only aids in individual decompression but also enhances team cohesion and productivity.

My Final Thoughts

For business leaders, mastering the art of mid-meeting decompression is crucial for maintaining peak performance. By integrating these strategies into your daily routine, you can mitigate the toll that a packed meeting schedule takes on your mental and physical health. Remember, the goal is not just to survive your meetings but to thrive within them, bringing your best self to every discussion and decision. The benefits of these practices are clear, leading to reduced stress, improved cognitive function, and better overall wellbeing, enabling leaders to navigate their demanding schedules more effectively.


A Leadership Mental Health Advocate and Inspirational Speaker, Gary works with businesses and leadership teams to break the stigma and begin prioritising their own mental health and wellbeing. Reach out today to discover how Gary can support your team in cultivating a culture of wellbeing and effective leadership.

Leadership Mental Health Advocate & Inspirational Speaker

About Gary


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