Thursday, 21 April 2022

The Importance of Taking Time off Work

Have you ever found yourself working through your lunch breaks or too afraid to take time off because the stress of catching up when you return to work can be so overwhelming? Often, we avoid taking time off because we feel as though we have to do twice as much work in the run-up to our holiday to ensure we’ve tied up any loose ends. However, it is vital for our mental and physical wellbeing that we regularly take a break from our job.

Although the human brain is capable of doing many wonderful things, it isn’t designed to be regularly overworked. This kind of constant pressure can be extremely damaging to both our mental and physical state. A study published by the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology showed that taking a relaxing or social break from work can help the mind to recover and can positively impact mood.

The effects of an overworked mind

  • Lack of focus, concentration and memory
  • Poor decision making
  • Symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Mental and physical exhaustion

It’s important that we regularly ‘switch off’ our brains to maintain a healthy mind and refuel our levels of cortisol, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins. All these hormones play a significant part in regulating our mood and make us more able to deal with stress.

Benefits of taking time off work

A happier, more self-confident and balanced you

The saying “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is certainly true. When we don’t take time to do the things that we enjoy and don’t have a healthy work–life balance, we can lose our sense of identity and it can also affect our personal relationships with friends and family. By taking time off to socialise, play a sport or enjoy a hobby, you will generally feel happier, and it can also boost your self-confidence and sense of belonging.

Increased cognitive function

Taking time off to rest our brain is integral to improving cognitive health so that we are better equipped to make decisions, concentrate and focus on any task at hand.

Improved mental resilience

When our brains are under ongoing pressure, it affects our ability to cope with stressful situations, which in turn can cause even more stress. By taking time off work to recuperate and regenerate our minds, we are able to deal with day-to-day stresses more effectively.

Increased productivity

Being overworked and mentally exhausted increases our levels of cortisol which can impact our motivation and productivity. A holiday away from the office either just relaxing or doing activities that we love can balance out our cortisol levels and boost our motivation, resulting in increased productivity.

Promoting time off

Time off work doesn’t necessarily mean going on a long holiday, it also means resting outside of your working hours, whether that’s in the evening when you’re at home, at weekends or even in your lunch break. Managers have a duty to look after their employees’ wellbeing and should encourage annual leave and regular work breaks to avoid work-related mental health issues and total burnout. Not only does this benefit the individual but it also creates a better working environment where everyone can perform to their full potential.

For more on holidays and the benefits of taking a break from work, read this article on vacation research  written by work and organisational psychologist Jessica Bloom and published in 'The Psychologist'  >

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