Friday 26 April 2024

Why Taking Breaks at Work is Crucial for Wellbeing

Often when we’re working in demanding work environments, taking breaks at work can be perceived as a weakness or a sign of inefficiency. However, it’s important to recognise that our mental and physical wellbeing heavily relies on incorporating breaks into our daily work routine. It’s important that managers ensure their teams are taking regular breaks, no matter how busy they are, otherwise it can lead to employee burnout.

A study published by the National Library of Medicine, found that “when attempting creative problems requiring a wider search of knowledge, individuals benefit from a period of time in which the problem is set aside prior to further attempts to solve it. The effect of breaks also tends to be better reflected in subjective evaluations of performance and actual creative outputs. Therefore, micro-breaks make individuals feel more vigorous and less fatigued and stimulate them to feel more productive after the break.”

Reasons for taking breaks

As well as providing employees with physical rest, even just a short break at work can help preserve mental wellbeing and increase levels of motivation.

1. Increased productivity
Contrary to popular belief, taking regular breaks at work can actually enhance productivity. Research has shown that our brains have a limited capacity to sustain attention, and prolonged periods of focused work can result in reduced concentration and cognitive overload. By incorporating breaks into our work routine, we give our minds the opportunity to rest and recharge. This, in turn, improves our cognitive functioning, enhances creativity and boosts productivity levels.

2. Improved focus and concentration
Continuous work for long periods can lead to mental and physical fatigue and decreased focus. By scheduling regular breaks, we allow our minds to reset and refocus, enabling us to maintain a higher level of concentration throughout the day. Short breaks, such as taking a walk, doing light stretching exercises or simply enjoying a chat with our colleagues, provide the necessary distraction for mental rejuvenation, resulting in improved focus when we return to work.

3. Stress reduction
Work-related stress has become increasingly prevalent in today's society. Over time, overwhelming workloads, tight deadlines and demanding responsibilities can take a toll on our mental health. However, incorporating breaks into our work routine can significantly alleviate stress levels. Breaks function as a mechanism for stress relief, allowing us to distance ourselves from work-related pressures momentarily. Engaging in relaxation activities during breaks, such as deep breathing exercises or mindful meditation, can further enhance stress reduction and promote a sense of calm.

4. Improved physical health
The benefits of taking breaks extend beyond mental wellbeing. Integrating short breaks throughout the working day can have a positive impact on our physical health as well. Prolonged periods of sitting or engaging in repetitive tasks can lead to musculoskeletal issues, eye strain and reduced overall physical fitness. Regular breaks provide opportunities for movement and physical activity, helping to reduce such risks. Taking short walks or engaging in some form of physical exercise during breaks not only energises the body but also improves blood circulation and posture.

5. Enhanced work-life balance
By prioritising breaks and establishing boundaries between work and our personal life, we contribute to achieving a healthier work-life balance. Continuous work without breaks can blur the line between professional and personal life, leading to burnout and strain on relationships both inside and outside our place of work. By ensuring we take regular breaks, we acknowledge the importance of self-care and allocate time for personal rejuvenation, resulting in a more fulfilling and balanced life overall.

So, let us embrace the notion that by pausing to recharge our minds, we are actually optimising our performance and cultivating a positive work environment. Remember, a healthy mind is a productive mind!

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