In today’s fast-paced and highly competitive work environment, it can be easy to fall into the trap of working non-stop without taking any breaks. In fact, breaks can feel like a luxury at these points, a luxury we just don’t have time for.
However, research has shown that taking regular breaks throughout the day can actually help us in many ways.
1. Increased productivity
It might seem counterintuitive, but taking breaks can actually help you be more productive. Research has shown that when people take regular breaks, they can maintain their focus and concentration for longer periods of time. When you work for hours on end without taking any breaks, your brain can become fatigued, and you’ll start to lose focus. By taking short breaks every hour or so, you can give your brain a chance to recharge and come back to your work feeling refreshed and energized.
2. Improved Quality
Do you notice the more tired or busy you are the more you may make mistakes? We then may start to feel guilty about these mistakes and push ourselves to do even more – thus perpetuating the vicious cycle!
3. Reduced stress
Working for long periods of time without taking any breaks can lead to increased levels of stress. When you’re constantly working, your body is in a state of constant stress, which can lead to physical and mental health problems. Taking regular breaks throughout the day can help reduce your stress levels and give your body a chance to relax and recover.
4. Improved creativity
When you take breaks, you give your brain a chance to think about things other than work. This can actually help improve your creativity and problem-solving skills. By taking a break and doing something different, you can help your brain make new connections and come up with new ideas.
5. Better health
Sitting at a desk for hours on end can be bad for your health. It can lead to back pain, neck pain, and other health problems. Taking regular breaks throughout the day can help reduce your risk of these health problems. By taking a break and getting up to move around, you can improve your circulation and reduce the strain on your muscles and joints.
6. Improved mood
When you take breaks, you give yourself a chance to do things you enjoy. Whether it’s taking a short walk, chatting with a colleague, or reading a book, taking a break can help improve your mood and make you feel happier. When you’re in a better mood, you’re more likely to be productive and enjoy your work.
Don’t just take my word for it, the evidence says so!
A study by Levy & Wagner (2011) found that train dispatchers who took breaks throughout their workday had fewer errors and better performance than those who worked without breaks. Sonnentag & Fritz (2007) and Trougakos, Hideg, & Cheng (2014) both found that taking breaks improved employees’ mood, energy, and productivity/overall job performance. Furthermore, Sung & Choi (2015) found that taking breaks during a creative task led to better performance and more creative ideas compared to working on the task continuously.
There is also evidence that being mindful on your break reduces emotional exhaustion and improves job satisfaction (Hulsheger, Alberts, & Feinholdt, 2013) so if this is something you’d like to learn more about you might like to read our blog – Mindlessness vs Mindfulness as a starting point.
So basically, breaks are essential, rather than an indulgence! It’s important to remember that breaks don’t have to be long – even taking a five-minute break every hour can make a big difference. So, the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, take a break and give your brain and body a chance to recharge. You might be surprised at how much more productive and energized you feel afterwards!
Written by: Dr Gurveen Ranger
Clinical Psychologist at Sage Clinics