Why It’s Important to Take Breaks at Work

Here we are, 2017. We’re hoping by now that more employees are starting to adapt to the “work smart, not hard” lifestyle. However, it seems that there are still too many workaholics out there that are still refusing to let themselves catch a break. A shockingly high amount of workers are eating while continuing to work, or not taking a break at all. Although you might not notice it at first, your productivity and efficiency work levels decrease and your mental and physical health worsen after non-stop work. So what are we saying here? Take breaks! (Yes, plural, if you can.)

Taking regular breaks throughout the work day will:

1. Enhance Creativity

Have you ever noticed that the best ideas come to you when you’re driving or out on a walk? Once you give yourself a break from thinking so hard, your brain switches to diffuse mode. When your brain is in this daydream state, your creativity juices start to flow giving you ideas you’ve been waiting for all day at your desk. Go for a walk to get coffee, or if you can’t leave, take a short walk to the nearest window for a quick change of scenery. A break away from your desk will spark fresh ideas.

2. Boost Happiness and Productivity

Some studies show that emotional intelligence is more important than IQ in order to be successful. Take some time out of your work day to meet a friend or family member for lunch. If you can’t get out that day, go wander to a coworker’s desk to chat for a few minutes. This will positively affect your mood, which directly boosts productivity. If you already deal with people all day, do something else that makes you happy. Watch a short video clip or listen to music away from your desk. Coming back refreshed with a smile on your face is bound to make you more willing to get your job done, and at a quicker pace.

3. Reduce Health Risks

And the hidden issue of avoiding breaks? Your physical health worsens over time. Prolonged sitting is terrible for your health and increases your risk of diabetes and heart disease due to lack of movement. Not only that, but staring at a computer screen for hours at a time can cause Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Remembering to get up and walk around will make you healthier in the long-run, even if it means just standing up to stretch. Get your blood and oxygen flowing! Your body will thank you later.

Feeling too overwhelmed to walk away? Write down everything you still have to do before taking a short break. This way, your mind isn’t racing the entire time you are away from your desk and you can eliminate the underlying fear of forgetting something. This will make you more relaxed come break time and the break will serve its purpose.

The trend of embracing and utilizing breaks during the work day starts with management. If upper level managers aren’t taking breaks, all other employees take note of this and feel guilty taking one themselves. Management should encourage breaks during the workday and publicize when they are stepping out. This makes all other workers feel safer to do the same.

Working 8+ hours straight without a break will cause you to lose focus on the task at hand, add unnecessary stress leading to unhappiness and burnout, and in the long run, cause major health concerns. You aren’t doing anyone any favors by skipping your break. Set alarms to remind yourself if you have to! That spreadsheet will still be there when you get back.