Stress & Anxiety | Written by: Keely

How Taking Breaks at Work Can Make You More Productive

Many of us have a tendency to doubt the concept that we could actually become more productive if we take a break from working every now and then. After all, our natural reaction to work is that being busy is always positive, while idleness is almost always a taboo. We have this ready notion that we will almost always be satisfied once we have chopped a sizable chunk from the huge iceberg that is our workload; and the sooner we do this, the better.

However, you’ve probably also felt that hollow feeling at the end of the day. When you finish a task but don’t in any way feel like you’ve accomplished anything.

Most of time, you feel this when you have been working continuously, and all the while, there’s that nagging thought at the back of your head that there will be more to come, and that you’re not really making any significant progress. Pay attention to these feelings for it is during these dreadful days that rest becomes a great necessity.

Why Your Body Needs Short Breaks at Work

From the outset, you have to accept the fact that continuous work only ever leads to boredom. The brain, after all, can only focus on doing a single activity for a specific period of time. Once you start to get bored, everything falls apart and you start losing your focus, no matter how hard you try to convince yourself that you are already on the final leg of your current task.

The human brain is simply not able to handle long periods of focusing on one activity. The very act of concentrating and exercising self-discipline already provides a significant strain on your brain. What makes matters worse is that the slow and steady buildup of stress and fatigue only ever adds to your overall physical and emotional burden.

In the end, staying attentive and solving problems become a herculean task, grinding all your work gears into a complete halt.

A Brief Break from Work Can Do Miracles to Productivity

This is why experts have long advocated short rests as a potent solution for work overload. After all, even Sisyphus, who was condemned by the gods to roll a boulder up a hill for all eternity, was afforded short breaks from his absurd, endless work every time he comes down from the hill’s summit.

In fact, one can imagine that it is those short breaks that fuel him in the first place, as they give him the time to aim his thoughts towards other things and, ultimately, to be happy.

We, the mere mortals that we are, can definitely learn from him and realize the value of taking quick rests from work. In fact, a study has even shown that these breaks become more efficient and more re-energizing if you also do something that you particularly love. This is because rest doesn’t necessarily entail doing absolutely nothing.

Doing an activity that makes you happy and satisfied not only reduces stress but it also provides your mind with an opportunity to focus on something new and refreshing. Without a doubt, the boost in mental and physical stamina you would definitely get is proof enough of just how effective this practice is.

Other Proven Benefits of Taking Breaks at Work

1. Your creativity is stimulated every time

If your work entails coming up with highly original ideas and exercising your creativity to the fullest, shifting your attention to other endeavors (e.g. watching a short video, walking in the park, or taking a stroll in the beach) could serve as fuel for your creative fire.

These activities and settings shower you with images and objects from which you can readily draw inspiration from, unlike in your enclosed office that is as intellectually stifling as its walls. Sometimes, all it takes to come up with ingenious idea is to have a new perspective.

2. Physical activity reinvigorates your mind

You also have to accept the fact that desk jobs only ever promote a sedentary lifestyle. Try sitting and concentrating on an activity for 8 hours straight for a whole day, and it certainly won’t take long for that all too familiar mental stagnation to set in.

How could you possibly continue working if your brain is in such a feeble state?

A 15-minute walk could do wonders in helping your circulation in good condition again, and taking in that fresh, outdoor air is sure to provide your brain with refreshing oxygen, which would help restore it to ready-to-work mode again. Even better is the fact that it could also keep you fit in the process.

3. Short naps boost your memory and learning capabilities

Various tasks require us to memorize data and information. However, it could also prove to be taxing to your brain, which is why experts suggest that you take brief naps in order to improve your memory.

In fact, 25 to 30 minutes of nap time is enough to do the trick; stretching it to an hour or an hour and half could merit you with extra benefits as it would pretty much ensure that your concentration and creativity would be optimized.

4. Healthy lunch breaks keeps your functioning brain in tip-top shape

Many people tend to overlook lunch breaks, ignoring the fact that they’re legally required for a reason. In fact, the midday meal is arguably just as important as breakfast, as it keeps you fueled for the rest of the day.

Without it, your productivity levels would surely diminish. Make sure make the meals as healthy as possible, though, particularly those that won’t leave you feeling sluggish after eating them.

5. Breaks are essential for eye health

Your eyes, besides your brain, are one of the organs that is readily affected by long hours of staring at a computer screen. Computer vision syndrome is but one of the common hurdles faced by office workers, and it has symptoms that range from neck pain and eye strain to blurry vision and headaches.

Of course, you won’t be able to work at your best if you have the said symptoms, which is why you should definitely take some time off from your screen to give your eyes the rest they need.

Let’s face it. Working all day without breaks is bad for your health, productivity, stress levels and overall happiness. Do yourself a favor the next time you’re dead-set on working for multiple hours non-stop. Take a short break every now and then. You’ll get more accomplished and feel better at the end of the day. Just forward this article to your boss if they’re wondering why you’re taking more breaks!

If overworking yourself is causing you stress, check out our list of 170 stress management techniques.


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