The Keys And Importance Of Taking Breaks

How hard do you work? We are in a constant battle with ourselves on feeling guilty of taking breaks. Asking ourselves if we’re lazy for doing this is a common occurrence. The truth is, taking breaks is essential for happy humans. Very few people know how to take breaks the right way. They should be intentional to help with your habits, creativity, longevity, and happiness. It’s the classic case of working smarter not harder. When was the last time you checked yourself on how often you take breaks?


Photo by Aaron Barnaby on Unsplash


The Benefits Of Taking Breaks


Is Taking a break being lazy? Absolutely not. It’s important to take breaks in work and outside of work for your productivity. When you work long days and nights without stopping, it’s easy to forget why you do what you do. You don’t give your brain the time it needs to rest and recover. Two key important benefits of taking break are;


Prevents Decision Fatigue

Roy F. Baumeister, a social psychologist defines Decision Fatigue as the deterioration of our ability to make good decisions after a process of constant decision making. This means that the more decisions we need to make, the worse off our educated decision making will be. What’s the result? Low self-control and willpower, which is why it’s important to take breaks. 


Restoration of Motivation & Goals

When we are faced with long tasks such as tedious hours working at a computer screen, or studying for an exam, research shows that prolonged attention hinders optimal performance. It’s best to impose brief breaks for yourself to bring yourself back to an attentive state. We can all attest to getting distracted and losing our attention span when working for too long. By imposing short mental breaks on ourselves, we can stay focused and be more productive. Mental breaks replenish our attention and solidify memories.


The Warning Signs Of Needing A Break


Subconsciously, we all know that overworking ourselves causes burnout and fatigue. It’s important to check ourselves when we become aware. Below are five important warning signs you need to chill out and stop what you’re working on to freshen yourself up. 

  • Lack of motivation
  • You are constantly tired
  • Your social life is non-existent
  • Careless mistakes are made
  • What used to bring joy now becomes something that interferes with you


Types Of Breaks


Movement Breaks

A lot of us sit at an office desk all day or work in a sedentary environment. Even if you’re a tradesman doing manual labour, you will still need ‘movement breaks’. Movement breaks are those in which we take time out to get moving and to focus on shifting our mind outside of work. Whatever physical activity you do for the benefit of yourself, whether it’s a 5-minute work or an hour workout session, if your body is moving and your mind becomes clearer, you are having a movement break. These types of breaks should be taken daily. It reduces stress significantly and improves your wellbeing and health overall. 


Professor Dov Eden from The University of Tel Aviv in Israel, who is an expert on how refuelling affects performance has documented that vacations ease “the effect of stress on well-being by punctuating the otherwise constant aggravation caused by incessant job demands”. Holidays have been shown to cure burnout by re-gathering crashed emotional resources. The time away from the stressors and immersing ourselves into a recreational state cures burnout. One of the best things about a holiday is we learn how to live in the moment and be engaged, which is optimal for human performance and life.

Alone Breaks (Mental)

Solitude increases productivity. There’s a common misconception that people who like to be alone or take breaks alone are lonely or have social issues. Being by ourselves with no distractions allows us to clear our minds from work and other stressors. When we remove as many distractions and interruptions from our day, we can concentrate better which helps us achieve more in a shorter time frame. When spending alone time of value, where we disconnect, our quality of life enhances, along with our productivity. Mental breaks replenish our thoughts and productivity. 


How To Know When To Take A Break


There’s no right or wrong answer on knowing when to take a break as we all have different attention spans, needs, and each individuals’ work differs from the next. Our focus comes in waves, where we generally find ourselves least productive at a certain time each day. A good rule of thumb is to get into a habit of scheduling your days and put yourself into a routine state. Understand when you’re most productive and when you’re least productive. Your short breaks should be when you’re least productive, which you’re flow isn’t interrupted. Ensure that you are doing anything but work during this time.