“Is It Okay To Take A Break From Work?” The Benefits Of Taking Break + Ways To Take A Break!
“Sometimes doing nothing makes way for everything.” – Hiral Nagda
We all can use a break from work not only for our better productivity but also for our better mental clarity and health.
And when I say “taking a break” I don’t mean scrolling through your social media. Is taking a break from work by scrolling through your Instagram really a break?
When you take a break from your duties, you are not avoiding your tasks or neglecting your responsibilities. You are taking care of yourself and conserving your energy. When you’re constantly working to meet those deadlines, it can be a challenge to pause and relax. And trust me, while it may look tempting to force yourself, it can ultimately cause you an early burnout and chronic fatigue.
By taking a well-deserved break from work, you are increasing your focus. One, that can help increase your productivity and decrease the risk of burnout. Of course, the duration of your break can depend on your working conditions (we can’t avoid HR rules!) and the techniques you choose.
For example, if you choose the Pomodoro Technique, then you get to take a break every 25 minutes.
Here, let’s explore the benefits of taking a break from work, signs you need a break, what happens when you don’t take breaks, and ways to take a break from work. Plus, keep an eye out for special tips for those working from home!
The Benefits Of Taking Breaks From Work
When you take a break from work, you’re not only calming yourself down by giving yourself some downtime to breathe but you’re also taking care of your physiological needs. Other benefits of taking breaks can include;
1. Lower Stress Levels: You can’t work when you’re stressed, can you? So taking a break from work allows you to reduce your stress levels. Breaks help…break the cycle of continuous stress and help you not become too overwhelmed.
2. Gives You Rest: Once you avoid the cycle of stress, you give yourself space to rest – mentally and physically, allowing your body (and mind) to calm down and heal.
3. Better Thinking Ability: Well, it’s no secret that stress can trigger responses that can cause poor thinking skills, low creativity, poor memory, and other cognitive abilities. When you take a break from work, you allow your mind to restore your cognitive functions.
4. Improved Productivity: Decreased stress levels, rest, and better thinking can automatically raise your productivity levels, making you better at completing tasks at work. So all in all, taking a break from work is not good for your body but your mind as well.
Signs You Need A Break
Sometimes the need to take a break can be obvious but other times, it can be subtle. Sometimes, you may be able to recognize the signs of burnout and fatigue but other times, you may not realize you’ve been hit until your productivity and health starts to deteriorate.
Here are some signs that you need a much-needed break from work:
- Changes in appetite
- Increased cynicism
- Trouble concentrating
- Frequently falling ill
- Lack of energy
- Lack of motivation
- Continuous low mood
- Increased frustration
- Feeling unfocused
- Increased headaches or stomach ache
- Poor productivity
- Feeling too overwhelmed
- Sleep issues
- Turning to drugs or alcohol to cope
- Social withdrawal
Please note that some of these signs can be symptoms of mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. If these symptoms are prominent, it is recommended that you speak to a professional immediately. An early diagnosis and therapy can prevent a lot of distress, ease mental burnout, and save lives.
What Happens When You Don’t Take Breaks?
Our bodies are designed to respond to stress and the rush of hormones that follows. When the stress becomes consistent and the stress response aka the fight or flight response is constantly triggered then it can cause serious problems.
Chronic stress can increase the risk of headaches and migraines, gastrointestinal problems, blood pressure issues, heart attack, or stroke. Sometimes, this stress you may accumulate over time while working can even cause overwhelming emotions that may prevent you from enjoying the time with family and friends.
When To Take A Break From Work?
There’s not an accurate amount of time that you can take breaks in. However, there are ways you can approach your break timings:
- Try to take a 5-minute break every 25 minutes.
- Take breaks at least for 10-minutes.
- Take a movement break for at least 3-minutes every half hour.
When possible, leave your work desk during the breaks. Once you decide upon the timings of your breaks, you can pencil in break times in your daily to-do list. You can also set notifications on your phone to constantly remind yourself to take a break from work.
Why People Don’t Take Breaks When Working From Home?
Many of our workspaces have moved to remote working, some temporarily while others, permanently. No matter what your situation is, working from home has one thing that is a little difficult to clarify. Yes, you guessed it – Breaks.
During WFH, it can be hard to know when to take a break. In an offline workplace, you can just walk away from your desk and go out for a cup of coffee but what about WFH? These options are no longer valid when you’re working from home.
Most people, out of fear of being unproductive, don’t take any breaks from work. Also, there are times when you might fear what your manager would do or say if you’re unavailable.
Other reasons why people are not taking a break from work can include:
- They fear they’ll fall behind in their work.
- They believe that there is no downtime due to increased scheduled calls and meetings.
- They believe that there is hardly a structure that allows them to take a break while working from home.
- They fear not being able to manage work-life balance.
- Their other responsibilities make it challenging for them to take breaks.
Fun Ways To Take Breaks From Work
1. Get Moving!
Who says moving isn’t a great way to take a break from work? Use your break times to get moving and get physical. These physical exercises or breaks you take can be 1-minute long or 10-minute, depending on you and your ability. Some ways to get moving during your breaks from work can include:
- Doing some jumping jacks.
- Going on a speed walk.
Doing some squats.
- Climbing up and down the stairs.
If you can, it is suggested that you venture out into the sunlight during your break from work. Getting some fresh air and focusing on something other than your screen can also do well for your eyes.
One of the downsides of working from home (or office) is the single posture you sit in all day. This means hunched down and shoulders drooping. Bad postures can not only harm your physical health but can also cause other pain and increase distress. Taking a break in the form of stretching can work wonders for you! You can also check out some desk yoga poses to help those stiff muscles.
3. It’s Snack Time!
Yes, my friend. Eating is taking a break from work too! And this isn’t the break you’re hoping for. During this break time, no munching on cookies or unhealthy snacks. Instead, try to eat something that provides your body and brain with nutrients to keep sharp and increase concentration. Add some snacks such as dried prunes, nuts, or popcorn.
4. Stay Hydrated!
When you’re working with full concentration, you may forget to stay hydrated, right? (I’m guilty as charged). If you don’t stay hydrated, then your body can slowly shut down, causing fatigue and trouble concentrating. Take a break every 5 minutes to drink water. Drinking water IS a fun way to take a break, especially when you spruce up your water with some lemon, cucumber, or other fruit slices.
5. Play Games!
Did you know that playing games, online or offline, can also count as taking a break from work!? And what a fun break too! Playing games such as Wordle or solving puzzles can help increase your focus and clear your mind. So the next time you’re looking for a fun way to take a break from work, play some games!
Other Ways To Take A Break From Work
- Sending a co-worker a funny e-card
- Sending a thank-you note to someone
- Calling your loved one, family member, or friend to ask how their day’s been going so far
- Organizing your phone/emails/texts
- Take a topic and brainstorm on it
- Clear out or re-organize your work desk
- Scrolling through Pinterest and gathering ideas for hobbies
- Do nothing and daydream
- Find an interesting class or community group to join
If you’re looking for something social, try:
If you’re looking for something productive to do, try:
If you’re looking for something creative, try:
I hope now you understand how taking a break from work can be beneficial. If you find yourself saying, “I need a break from work” come back to these ideas, take inspiration, and really take a break. You deserve a break.
Is it okay to take a break from work? Yes, absolutely! Taking a break from work can help relieve stress, rest your body (and mind), allow you to get creative, increase your productivity, and most importantly, prevent the risk of early burnout.
Take A Break, Learn How
Share this article with your friends and colleagues and let them know how taking a break from work can help. If you think we missed your favorite break-time activity, let us know in the comments below. You can also share your ideas with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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