The American workweek can easily span upwards of 50 hours. Working this much can not only put people’s health at risk, but it can also be detrimental to productivity and quality of work. A lot of people think that if you put in more hours, you will be more productive – which is true some of the time, but research also shows that working straight through without breaks can lead to burnout.
In order to maintain efficiency during your day, you need to discover the ways to take breaks. While it’s not always easy to find the time, it will most certainly benefit you in the end. Take a look at the top five reasons to take breaks, as well as examples of five breaks you can easily take during the workday.
1. Breaks increase creativity and make you more productive
It’s so easy for us to get wrapped up in a busy day of to-do lists, meetings, and conference calls. For many people, getting into a routine can be a good and a bad thing. A routine is good because it’s important to stick to a schedule and adhere to deadlines, but a negative side effect of routine is that it can become monotonous. Creative ideas can take work to come up with and develop. When our brain power is being depleted by all of the tasks that make up our day, those creative ideas can be harder to come by.
Break Idea – Try meditating: People have been practicing meditation for centuries, which has shown to refresh their perspective and provide rejuvenation. In the work space, even something as small as a five minute meditation session several times a day has shown to get you into a “state of flow” where fresh ideas can come to the surface more easily.
2. Breaks refresh your attention and help you concentrate
During a period of rest the brain has the opportunity to play catch up and ingrain what it previously learned. Taking some downtime during the workday will help with resetting your brain so you will be able to store more information, as well as provide you with more motivation.
Break Idea – Get away from your desk during lunch: These days, only 1 in 5 office workers report that they take a lunch break away from their desk. Not only is eating a healthy lunch imperative to brain activity, but using that time to step away from your usual office setting is also proven to increase concentration. Try bringing your lunch with you and going to a local park to eat, or try a new restaurant close to your workplace.
3. Breaks make you healthier
Many organizations are now taking note of recent scientific evidence that proves sitting for extended periods of time is bad for your health. Add the strain to your eyes from looking at a computer screen and it’s not a good combination. It’s essential to find the time during the workday to do some type of physical movement or activity. Research shows that even a 5-minute walk can improve your overall well-being.
Break Idea – Take a walk or do some type of exercise: As mentioned, there are a number of organizations that are starting to make additions to their wellness plans that include benefits for active employees, such as gym memberships and extended lunch breaks to work out. If you don’t have this option, it’s still important for workers take their health into their own hands. It’s recommended that for every 30 minutes spent sitting, you should move for at least one minute to maintain your health.
4. Breaks improve inter-office collaboration
You typically spend Monday through Friday with the same coworkers and for a lot of jobs, it’s equally as important to work independently as it is to work as a team. Therefore, socializing with the people you work with can lead to both a higher quality of work and more enjoyment in completing projects.
Break Tip – Get creative with meetings: Next time you need to plan a meeting, change it up a bit. Invite your colleagues to meet over coffee at a nearby café or lead a walking meeting. This kills two birds with one stone – it gets the work done while also getting people moving and giving them a change of scenery.
5. Breaks lower your overall stress
Research shows that American’s work more and take less vacation than many other countries in the industrialized world. A recent report said that that 54% of Americans failed to use their allotted vacation time during the work year. As a result of this combination, Americans also have a much higher level of stress. While working hard can be rewarding, it can also lead to burnout. To prevent this from happening, you need to take at least some time away from the office or plan a vacation.
Break Tip – Plan time away for yourself: Planning time away from work can have physiological and psychological health benefits. Organizations include paid time off in their benefits packages for a reason and it’s important to utilize it in a way that decreases stress and gives your brain the chance to reset. Not only does taking a vacation give you the opportunity to spend quality time with friends and family, studies show that merely the act of planning a vacation gives people a better sense of well-being. If it’s not possible to leave town, more and more people are choosing to plan “staycations” when they take time off to simply stay at home.
Taking those needed breaks during your day is proven to improve your health, motivation, concentration, creativity, and job performance. It’s important to practice these healthy habits when it comes to your own workday and in effect, it will benefit the overall work you do.
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