“There is virtue in work, and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.” – Alan Cohen
In many cultures, the very best employees are expected to be working non-stop at peak performance. Taking breaks during work hours is often seen as a waste of time, but does that claim hold any substance?
Contrary to what you may hear in the professional world, taking breaks during work is actually an essential part of remaining productive and in good spirits. Employees require enough motivation and ability to perform their work tasks, and let’s be honest, work tasks can be pretty demanding.
Work tasks usually require employees to remain focused and productive amidst distractions for extended periods of time. It’s extremely important to carve out some time for a rest period in the middle of a productive day, primarily for your own health but also so that you remain productive at your job.
Not only can breaks replenish the psychological cost of remaining hard at work for extended periods of time, but they also boost energy and improve your overall work performance. How can you say no to that?
If you’ve been a hard-working employee for so long that you’ve forgotten the levity that a work break brings, we have just the article for you. In this article, we explain why rest is so crucial for your physical and mental health and how it can even make you a more efficient employee.
The Benefits of Taking Breaks
The importance of rest cannot be overstated in terms of its contribution to your overall well-being. In today’s highly connected world, there’s always something competing for your attention. No matter how busy you are or how extensive your to-do list is, taking time to recharge and relax is essential to your well-being in the long run.
Taking Breaks Can Heal Your Body
The human body was made to perform best in a succession of short bursts of high intensity. This is one reason why it’s important to take a break, even if it’s just for a couple of minutes — because it’ll give you the energy boost you need to keep going.
However, what constitutes a break? A break is a short rest from your normal routine, which may include a break from work, physical activity, or emotional strain. They improve one’s state of mind, inspire new ideas, spur increased output, lessen anxiety and depression, and reinforce bonds between people.
How much rest you need is conditional on your own personal requirements. In other words, everyone’s ideal break may look a bit different. If you haven’t gotten much rest and are feeling irritable or agitated, that may be a sign you need to take more frequent breaks. After adequate rest, your body is better able to kick off its own internal healing cascade and restore to homeostasis. During this time, your body can heal itself and recover.
Rest Reduces Stress
Unfortunately for most of us, stress can’t always be avoided. To some, this stress inspires them to work harder or operate more efficiently, but to others, it weighs on them like a heavy burden. The danger of getting sick and the effects of stress on the immune system are both exacerbated by prolonged stress.
When you’re under stress, your body goes through a state of physiological arousal known as “fight or flight,” which heightens your senses in preparation for action. There are a variety of physiological responses that can occur during this state, including an elevated heart rate and blood pressure, a delayed digestive system, and elevated hormone levels (including cortisol).
In the distant past, the body relied on the fight-or-flight response as its primary means of self-preservation. For our ancestors, this meant being able to take swift action in the face of unforeseen danger. This kind of reaction may have been helpful in the past, but today it happens all too frequently and in situations that don’t necessitate a fight or flight response.
When we take breaks, however, our parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated, allowing us to disperse the hormones caused by stress and turn off the “fight or flight” response.
Downtime Boosts Creativity
You’ll likely find that your imagination runs wild after some well-deserved downtime. This is because taking a break allows you to recharge. There’s time for thought and introspection amid the stillness, which might help you overcome creative blocks.
Data on the brain’s functional connectivity examines how well different regions communicate with one another while the brain is at rest. As a result, you find more and more ways to resolve open-ended issues.
Stepping Away From Work Improves Productivity
When your brain is tired or overworked, it functions less effectively, just like any other system in your body. Having high-stakes activities or meetings on a Monday is common practice since people know they will be at their most effective following a day of rest. Taking a break will help you perform better when you return to work.
If you want to be more productive and experience a greater sense of satisfaction in your work, unplug for a whole day at least once a week.
Breaking Away Enhances Decision-Making
The expression “sleep on it” exists when it comes to making decisions because rest enhances judgment. Working without breaks for too long diminishes your ability to focus and might wear you down emotionally. You can improve your decision-making skills by taking daily and weekly breaks at regular intervals. To truly benefit from rest, you must make it a priority.
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Never Feel Guilty About Taking a Break
Now we know that a break is the best way to re-energize, re-focus, and re-energize ourselves after a period of mental exhaustion. However, many people may feel guilty about getting out of the office for some fresh air and quiet reading in the middle of the day.
According to a Staples survey of office workers and supervisors, more than a quarter of employees don’t take a break other than lunch, despite the fact that 66% of workers spend more than eight hours a day at the workplace. One-fifth of workers claimed they didn’t take breaks because they felt guilty about leaving their desks. What’s more, that’s despite the fact that 86% of workers agreed that taking breaks increased their productivity, and 90% of managers said they promoted breaks.
It’s commonly believed that working nonstop will lead to greater productivity, career advancement, and overall success. When the demand in our work life intensifies, most of us go into “hunker down mode” and push even harder. Unfortunately, when we do this, we only become less engaged with what we’re doing and more likely to make mistakes.
You should never feel guilty about stepping away from your tasks at hand to recharge, whether it’s a full 30-minute lunch break or a quick 10-minute walk around the block. Because of the productivity-focused, work-centric society we live in, it is normal to feel this guilt when taking a much-needed break, but it’s crucial you work through that and realize it’s for your own good.
Ideas For Productive Work Breaks
Everybody wants to make the most of their time because it is a limited resource. One of the most effective methods of gaining a sense of accomplishment is to learn how to maximize the time we have. Taking a break doesn’t have to feel like a waste of time. However, this doesn’t mean you should force yourself to work constantly either. Rather, it means prioritizing your own well-being so that you may perform at your highest potential in all that you do.
If you’re a hard worker on a tight schedule and you need to take care of yourself in order to keep going, take the following suggestions into consideration. Turn your breaks into a time to relax and recharge so that you can return to your work refreshed and ready to take on the world.
Keep reading for some great ways to turn your lunch break into much-needed, productive downtime.
Clean Your Workspace
Don’t discount the positive effects that a tidy workspace can have on your state of mind and sense of well-being. Maybe your desk always seems to have a bunch of random papers, post-its, and other odds and ends sitting on it. Leverage your break time to clear the clutter!
Cleaning up your desk or workspace for even just a few minutes can make a huge difference. Cleaning may be a meditative experience, and it will have a noticeable impact on the overall “vibe” of your office.
A significant portion of our lives is devoted to solitary screen time. In addition, we can’t overlook the fact that humans are essentially social creatures. By taking a break from work to chat with a coworker about a TV show or something else entirely, you can clear your head and return to your tasks with a fresh perspective.
In addition to having fun during your coffee break, this practice will help you and your teammates get closer, which will make it easier to communicate and work together.
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Take a break, go outside, and re-energize.
If there is a park close to your workplace, taking a short walk there is not only a great method to reduce tension but also to keep you healthy. Going outside and breathing some fresh air can also do wonders for your mood and mental health. Shifting your perspective sometimes requires exposure to the outside world, and recharging your batteries in this way will allow you to return to your work with newfound energy and enthusiasm.
Listen to Music You Enjoy
Does hearing good music leave you with a smile on your face? Simple as it may seem, listening to music has a powerful and immediate effect on one’s disposition. Consider what you’ll need for the day ahead, then select the right music to help you do it. If you’re feeling down during your break, rocking out to some upbeat, uplifting music might do wonders for your spirits. At the very least, it’ll get you thinking like a winner!
This is also an excellent suggestion for individuals who choose quieter tunes to listen to because listening to music prior to unwinding can increase the effectiveness of the process. Simply choose a song, close your eyes, and allow relaxation to wash over you.
It’s important to stay hydrated so you don’t end up with something more serious than a headache. Why not grab a drink of water to kick off your break? It’s important to take care of your body because it’s the vessel that will carry you through life, and your body does so much for you!
Spending the day hunched over a desk can increase stress levels and lead to muscle tightness. Taking a few minutes to stretch before you start to move about will help prevent muscular soreness. Even while seated, you can engage in some light stretching exercises. A person’s mental health, rate of aging, and risk of cardiovascular disease can all benefit from including exercise in their work schedule.
Use Rest as a Springboard Toward Greatness
The society we’ve built places so much emphasis on working yourself to the bone. We are taught from grade school onwards that we must keep our noses to the grindstone, and good things will follow. While it’s certainly important to do your best and work hard, it is equally as important to give yourself the rest you need.
Just like many things in life, this will be a work in progress. If you struggle to give yourself breaks without feeling guilty, be kind to yourself. Start small and just enjoy a quiet, 15-minute lunch break while listening to some of your favorite music. You may be surprised at how huge of an impact something so small has!
By following the advice in this article, you can begin your journey to feeling fulfilled and adequately rested at your job.