5 Reasons Taking a Break at Work Boosts Productivity and Mental Health
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5 Reasons Taking a Break at Work Boosts Productivity and Mental Health

Mental health has taken a front seat in the world of work, especially since so many employees have discovered what it's like to work from home for the first time.

5 Reasons Taking a Break at Work Boosts Productivity and Mental Health

With greater control over their work-life balance, they've had the opportunity to find out what works best for them.

Conversely, there remains the issue of productivity. Monitoring output becomes more challenging without direct oversight, and it's an issue that can affect employees and management teams alike. Most supervisors can accept that employees won't be constantly switched on and operating at their total capacity all day. Still, there's also a level of trust involved as they can't watch everyone all the time.

Some employees will retain their remote working status, while others will return to offices, at least on a staggered or part-time basis. Some industries are keener to get people back onto company property than others. At the same time, some big names, including Adobe, Dropbox, and Amazon, have put forward plans to make remote work the standard for those in a position to take advantage.

No matter where an employee ends up working, it's essential not to overlook the importance of regular breaks, both from mental health and productivity standpoints. Here's why.

1. An Opportunity to Process Information

Even the most creative jobs involve mundane, repetitive periods, and it's easy to switch to autopilot. While that certainly passes the time, it does little to help workers refine processes and develop new ideas they can deploy to become even more effective. Moreover, doing without thinking inevitably results in information entering memories but not sticking around for long.

Therefore, taking a break and doing something completely different can be all it takes to ensure that the mind can process new information and use it again in the future. It brings to mind many employees' study habits of years gone by. Most guidance suggests that scheduling breaks is every bit as important as the study periods themselves. Doing so enables people to absorb the information on which they've been working.

It's one study habit that shouldn't be lost upon entering the world of work, as there's always an opportunity to find a way to do something quicker or more effectively when someone takes the time to understand what they've achieved so far.

2. Breaks Boost Creativity

When they step away from a task, many people find that their mind turns to thinking about what's next. This can serve as a fantastic opportunity for a more creative approach. Writers that stand up from the keyboard and take a walk find themselves playing the following few lines in their head and often come up with something inspired. Likewise, designers visualize what they've worked on but with different colors and shapes and often make a breakthrough.

This suggestion applies perfectly to those already in creative fields, but it's not exclusive to them. Following on from the first tup above, it can lead to coming up with new solutions to boring problems, or a chance to organize upcoming tasks in the mind to decide which ones need to take greater priority over others.

3. It's an Opportunity for a Mental Reset

Well-timed breaks are an excellent opportunity to reboot the brain. It's nothing groundbreaking to suggest that the brain fatigues relatively quickly, especially in times of heavy focus. There's a reason why while the typical working day lasts for eight hours or more, research suggests that there's no way to be fully productive throughout all of them.

One result of fatigue is that the brain becomes accustomed to doing things the same way as before. As a result, people start to do something slightly worse than before as time goes on because their mind is tired. That doesn't always necessarily mean physical tiredness – it can just as easily mean brain fog and difficulty concentrating.

One of the best ways to take a break to reset the brain is to do something slightly different without breaking the flow entirely. For example, if you're working at a computer, you don't necessarily need to get up and go somewhere else. Instead, you could just as easily quickly browse social media or fire up a simple online game to pass a few minutes without breaking the flow of being at your desk.

The same technique applies no matter what you do. The key is to use the same tools and remain in the same space but do so in a completely different way from what you'd typically work on.

4. Breaks Will Reduce Stress

On days when there's a lot to do, it's easy to become overwhelmed. You'll be working away and watching the minutes and hours tick by, potentially wondering if you'll ever reach your end goal in the time you've planned. Breaks are a critical component of reducing stress, no matter the task at hand.

Taking a break allows you to think about what you've achieved and organize everything else you need to do in your mind. During work periods, the brain focuses primarily on the task at hand. As a result, there's less energy available to accept you're making progress, and stress levels can quickly rise.

A break is a time to shut off from that task – although not to the point that it becomes difficult to restart it once the break is over. Once you dedicate time to gathering your thoughts, it becomes easier to see the bigger picture, and that stress will no longer impact the effectiveness of the work you do in the time you have.

5. You Can Take Time to Focus on Healthy Habits

For many busy people, mental health suffers because they don't feel they have the time to focus on their health. Work, productivity, and getting things done all have to take priority. That does make sense, but it's all the more reason to schedule breaks as part of the working day.

Just five or ten minutes can be enough for some TLC for mental faculties, and it can be whatever works for you. Meditating at your desk is one option, while taking a brisk walk in some fresh air can work exceptionally well too. If you haven't yet found something that works for your mental health, take the time you've scheduled during breaks to find something. There's no single ideal solution for everyone, but there is at least one thing that will work, no matter who you are.

Wrapping Up

It's common for people with ambitions and aspirations to fall into the trap of thinking that time spent on anything but productivity is time wasted. However, it can also be a judgment call. For example, four hours of peak productivity can often yield better results than eight hours of grinding through. "Work smarter, not harder" is a famous phrase for a reason, and it's time to get away from the idea of measuring output by the hours spent.

Getting more done in less time should be a priority for everyone. Time is then freed up for other things beyond work, and mental health and productivity can benefit tremendously from greater balance.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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