Why You Should Be Taking Healthy Work Breaks
4 min read
You can improve your physical and mental health and your performance by taking the right kind of work breaks.Your work habits are your patterned behaviors you do during and outside of work. Creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle means making choices to cultivate healthy habits and that can’t wait until you are off the clock. Good work habits will increase your productivity and make it faster and easier to get your workload done.
Some of the Many Benefits of Taking Healthy Work Breaks as Part of Your RoutineThere are a vast amount of physical and psychological benefits to keeping intentional work breaks a habit:
- Increases productivity
- Improves mental health and well-being
- Increases job satisfaction
- Restores focus and attention, especially for long term goals
- Can prevent decision fatigue
- Increases creativity
- Promotes healthy habits
- Movement breaks are helpful for emotional and physical health
- Rest improves memory and learning
What happens when you don’t take work breaks?
- Decision fatigue: Working through your breaks wears down your ability to make good choice in and outside of work hours. You are faced with countless small and large decisions in a day’s work. Something as simple as replying to an email can take twice the time when you reach this stage of decision fatigue.
- Chronic fatigue and burnout: Over time you may start to experience ongoing fatigue and become at greater risk for burnout. Without moments to recharge the body and the mind, everything in life begins to feel more difficult.
- Decreased ability to focus: You may be tempted to skip breaks to get more work done but many studies show that focusing on one task for too long leads to less productivity and effectiveness.
- Decreased motivation after work: Sitting down, something many of us do 8 hours or more a day, might be the worst thing we are doing for our health! After a long and tiring day of work, you might find little to no time or energy to go to the gym to exercise or go for a run. And in such a tired state, you might find little motivation to eat healthily and instead gorge on anything you can get your hands on.
Not all breaks are created equal...You want to be sure to take breaks that help you psychologically and physically recharge. Things like social media, online shopping, complaining / gossiping or increased caffeine and unhealthy snacking on your breaks can lead to even greater fatigue and frustration. If these are the only breaks you typically take, it’s time to change your work break habits. Taking healthy breaks is an integral part of having healthy habits which can enhance your quality and enjoyment of your work.
Tips to getting the most out of your breaks:
- Do something completely different from your work. Don’t use this time to discuss or think about your work. Disconnecting even for a few minutes at time can enhance creativity and productivity when you return to your work.
- Get in short bouts of activity or stretching is one of the best ways to recharge physically and mentally. Take a walk, do a few sun salutation, or put on a favorite song and dance for a few minutes.
- Get mindful by taking a few minutes to turn off the brain, meditate, or practice deep breathing.
- Step outside in nature to recalibrate after long periods of screentime. Try to disconnect and add some activity or stretching for even greater benefit.
- Be social by calling a friend or walking with a coworker who always seems to lift your spirits.
- Daydream or journal to allow your mind to wander and even spark new ideas.
- Do or read something that make you laugh to increase your endorphins (those happy messengers in your brain.)
- Do an activity that uses a different part of the brain than was being used for work, which allows the part of the brain being used for work to rest. If your job doesn’t allow you tap into your creative side, take a short break to draw, paint or dance.
- Try a different setting than your work. If you are working at computer all day, get out and walk. If you are working in a noisy environment, find some quiet solo time.