It’s easy to convince ourselves that there’s so much to do that we don’t have time to take a break. While skipping breaks saves you time and lets you finish work quickly, you might be sacrificing not just the quality of your work but also your physical and mental health. Truth be told, when taking a break, you are boosting your performance, which leads to a balance between well-being and productivity.
Defining a break
A break is a brief pause from an activity, whether physical or mental, with the intention of going back to it within a reasonable amount of time. It can be a holiday, a lunch break, or a quick break. These are found to reduce and prevent stress and help maintain performance throughout the day. According to studies, it can decrease exhaustion while increasing vigour and energy levels over time.
Benefits of taking a break
The benefits of taking a break are overwhelming. Here are some of them.
1. It is great for your physical and emotional health
Did you know that constantly sitting in front of your TV, at your desk, or in the office can increase your risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and depression? So, make sure to insert even a 5-minute break every hour every day to improve your blood circulation. Stand up and take a brief walk to the restroom or to the pantry for a glass of water. Instead of taking the elevator to see someone on the next floor, take the stairs. If you’re working from home, taking a break to check on your kids in the living room or tending to the plants is a good way to pause.
2. It keeps your decision-making skills sharp
Whatever type of work you do, there are always decisions to make. This can be exhausting, especially if you have to make decisions all day. However, by taking a break every now and then, you are letting your brain ‘recharge’ to avoid ‘decision fatigue’. According to a study, author S.J. Scott notes that more paroles were granted to prisoners when Israeli judges took their two daily breaks after they had been working for a while. It is said that a decision fatigue had already set in when the judges went for the easiest and safest option, which is to say ‘no’ to parole requests.
3. Taking a break improves creativity and productivity
Working endlessly without taking a break can only lead to exhaustion and fatigue. However, taking breaks in between can refresh your mind and replenish your mental sources. In case you haven’t noticed, we oftentimes find the answers and make brilliant solutions after taking a break. This is because our brains have recharged, and it’s as if we’re ‘writing on a clean paper’ again.
Ways to ensure taking a break is part of your daily routine
Oftentimes, taking a break is easier said than done, especially when we’re loaded with tasks and deadlines. Here are some ways to ensure that it remains a part of your daily routine.
1. Set an alarm
If you easily get engrossed with your tasks, it helps to set an alarm on your phone. A break every hour to keep you focused reaps good results.
2. Do something during your break
It sounds like there’s no point in taking a break if you’re going to do something during that time, right? However, what we mean here is doing something that you like in order to motivate you to take a break. Perhaps, you’d like to enjoy an iced lollipop, have a slice of cake or a piece of Snickers, or lie on the couch to nap.
3. Make reminders on your wall
If you have a corkboard on your wall, try to write a simple ‘TAKE A BREAK’ note on a flashy-coloured post-it to make it eye-catchy. That way, every time you look up, you are reminded to take a break.
When not to take a break?
Taking a break is essential; however, the timing of your breaks also affects your productivity. The only time you may not take a break is when the ideas are already flowing. This is because once you stop, you might lose the stream of ideas, which is sometimes hard to bring back.
Taking a break is important to your physical and mental well-being, so never skimp on it.
You can also read our article on how to relax during your hectic days.