Too much to do, with so little time? Do you feel like taking breaks during your work day will put you behind? After all, we live in a world that glorifies being “busy” like it’s a power player. If you’re not taking breaks, it’s likely you’re spacing out and being less productive. Breaks actually reboot your brain and help you to dive back in with greater focus.
Could “busy” be a trap?
Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.
Science shows that incremental breaks between longer periods of work are better for both body and mind. So here are 10 reasons you can take to your boss to make your case for more breaks.
A small diversion once an hour or so can actually help your brain perform better. Working for long periods without a breather can cause our brains to perceive the task as less important and we lose concentration. According to a study done by the University of Illinois, “brief diversions from a task can dramatically improve one’s ability to focus on that task for prolonged periods.”
Physical movement boosts health
Getting up throughout the day improves circulation and keeps your brain functioning optimally. This protects your physical health too and could mean fewer sick days.
According to the American Journal of Epidemiology, after adjustments were made for smoking, body mass index, and other factors, the time spent sitting was associated with higher mortality rates in both women and men.
Personal development time
Short breaks are a great way to switch tasks and do something for your personal growth. This can make you more valuable to your workplace over time and makes a great case for a stocked up break room.
Adding rockers and lounge chairs to your break room along with some well-stocked bookshelves will encourager breakers to read, learn, and grow. Motivation for a little office redesign.
Prevents employee burnout
Burnout is real and it is costing companies dearly. There will always be busy times where you have to put in extra hours and work a little harder to meet deadlines, but if you keep that up for too long with no end in sight, you’ll run the risk of burning yourself out. It’s important to know what you can handle so you recognize when it’s time to slow down. Taking regular breaks is an effective way to keep tabs on your own well-being and maintain a steady flow of productivity.
The psychological and physical problems of burned-out employees, which cost an estimated $125 billion to $190 billion a year in healthcare spending in the U.S., are just the most obvious impacts. The true cost to business can be far greater, thanks to low productivity across organizations, high turnover, and the loss of the most capable talent.Eric Garton, Harvard Business Review
Better retention rates
Breaking from focus mode helps our brains integrate the information we are working with and learning. This helps up to retain more information for later use.
That sort of downtime, when you’re not thinking directly about what you’re trying to learn, or figure out, or write about—that downtime is a time of subconscious processing that allows you [to learn] better.
Time for healthier fuel
Eating at your desk while you continue to work can wreak havoc on your waistline. The tendency is to chew insufficiently and pay less attention to what you are eating, leading to poor digestion—and maybe even poorer food choices.
Taking a lunch break away from your desk to eat a healthy meal can do wonders for your afternoon productivity, eliminating the inevitable sugar crash and the need for a nap later.
Improved emotional health
Staring at a screen all day not only takes a physical toll but affects your emotional health too. Get up and share ideas with a coworker. Give a word of encouragement. Do some stretching and check in with yourself. Take some deep breaths.
It only takes a few minutes to rediscover your purpose and connect back to your heart. It may sound a little out there, but you will be amazed at how much more motivated you feel.
Moments of respite may even be necessary to keep one’s moral compass in working order and maintain a sense of self.
Better stress management
Taking breaks helps you manage stress. Bonus points if you spend the time power napping. Studies have shown that taking a 20-minute nap in the afternoon actually provides more rest than sleeping an extra 20 minutes in the morning.
This reduces stress and gives both your mind and body a boost, which can lead to fewer errors in your work.
Ever had a creative brainstorm while out for a walk or fidgeting with items on your desk? Breaks offer the brain a chance to think differently. They allow all kinds of creative ideas to reveal themselves; ideas that could make your work environment a better place, boost income, and help you give back.
Taking group breaks or at least one on one breaks can help your teams collaborate and bond while building stronger relationships and boosting morale. This helps teams problem-solve better and can even help companies retain greater talent by helping employees feel well cared for and appreciated.
Maybe “those who break together stay together” could be the new mantra.
However you choose to take breaks, make them a priority. Your mind, body, and team will thank you.
Follow Cafe Quill for plenty more suggestions on how to stay healthy and productive when you have a desk job—like trying these healthy snack ideas to get you through the afternoon.