How Taking Breaks at Work Actually Makes You More Productive?
Work Wellness

How Taking Breaks at Work Actually Makes You More Productive?

|Jun 5, 2024
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Let's talk about something we all love but often feel guilty about – taking breaks at work. Yes, those precious moments when you step away from your desk, stretch your legs, and maybe even grab a snack or chat with a colleague.

Turns out, taking a break at work isn’t just for slacking off; they're super important for your productivity. In this post, we’ll explore why you should step away from the computer and how it can benefit you in the long run.

The Science Behind Taking Breaks

Ever feel like your brain's hit a wall, and no matter how hard you try, you just can't focus? Well, turns out, that's totally normal!

Our brains aren't built to concentrate for hours on end without a break. Research from Harvard Business Review (HBR) shows that taking a relaxing break can improve our focus, creativity, and overall performance. It gives your brain a chance to hit the refresh button.

The Science Behind Taking Breaks

Finding the Right Balance Between Break Time and Work

Now, we know what you're thinking – "How long should my break at work be?”

There’s really no one-size-fits-all answer. It depends on you and your work environment. Some folks swear by the Pomodoro Technique, where you work for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break. However, this method is usually ideal for WFH employees.

Others (those in a physical office setting) prefer longer breaks, like a proper lunch hour. 

The key is to find what works best for you and stick to it.

If you want to take a break at work, the rules will usually be decided by your company’s HR department, so keep that in mind.

The Benefits of Taking Breaks at Work

You’ve been staring at your computer screen for what feels like forever, and your brain is starting to feel like mush. Sound familiar?

Taking breaks can help boost your brainpower. As mentioned before, research shows that regular breaks improve focus, concentration, and creativity.

As a result, by giving your brain a chance to recharge, you'll come back to your tasks feeling refreshed and ready to tackle anything that comes your way.

Prevent Burnout

Raise your hand if you've ever felt exhausted at work. Unfortunately, it happens to the best of us.

However, here's the thing – taking breaks can help prevent fatigue before it even starts. When we push ourselves too hard without taking time to rest, we run the risk of becoming less productive in the long run.

By adding regular break time hours into your workday, you're doing yourself a huge favor in the burnout prevention department.

The Benefits of Taking Breaks at Work

Improve Physical Health

Believe it or not, taking a long lunch break at work isn't just good for your mental health – it's good for your physical health too!

If you spend hours on end sitting at your standing desk without moving, you're not doing your body any favors.

However, by taking breaks to eat and walk around, you can improve your posture and prevent those dreaded aches and pains that come from sitting too long.

Boost Mood and Morale

Work can be stressful sometimes. Building healthy office habits can boost your mood and morale, making the whole workday feel a little bit brighter.

Whether you use your break time to chat with a coworker or engage in active sitting, giving yourself a timeout can work wonders for your overall happiness and well-being.

Improve Relationships

The best part of taking breaks at work includes the chance to connect with your coworkers on a more personal level.

From grabbing lunch together to bonding over a game of ping pong, these moments of connection can help strengthen your relationships with your colleagues. It can also create a more positive and supportive work environment.

Improve Relationships

General Break Rules Employees Must Follow in 2024

We all know how important it is to give our brains and bodies a little rest and recharge during the workday. However, do you find yourself wondering what the rules are when it comes to taking breaks?

In 2024, the rules might vary depending on where you live and work. Most countries have laws in place that dictate how many breaks you're entitled to and how long they should be.

According to the United States, federal law doesn't need employers to provide meal or rest breaks, but many states have laws that do. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the rules in your area to ensure you're getting the breaks you deserve.

1. Meal Break vs. Rest Break

Let’s clear up some confusion – what's the difference between a meal and a rest break?

A meal break, also known as a lunch break at work, is typically a 30-minute pause that allows you to eat and take some time away from your work duties. However, you may not be paid for a lunch break since it doesn’t include getting any work done.

In contrast, a 15-minute rest or smoke break at work is a shorter paid period that's meant to give you a quick breather without necessarily eating a meal.

Both types of breaks are important for your well-being, so make sure you're taking advantage of them whenever you can.

Meal Break vs. Rest Break

2. Timing Is Everything

When it comes to taking breaks, timing is everything. You don't want to wait until you're completely burned out to pause, but you also don't want to take breaks so frequently that you're not getting any work done.

How do you strike the right balance? Well, it might take some trial and error, but it’s a good idea to take short breaks throughout the day to give your brain a chance to recharge. Don't forget to take a longer period for lunch – your stomach will thank you!

3. Communicate Clearly

Finally, don't be afraid to communicate with your employer about your break needs. If you're not getting enough time or if you feel like your breaks are being interrupted too frequently, speak up.

Your employer usually wants you to be happy and productive, so they'll likely be willing to cooperate with you to find a solution that works for everyone.

Communicate Clearly

The Different Types of Breaks You Can Take at Work

Microbreaks are short, frequent breaks that last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes.

While they might seem insignificant, don't underestimate their power. Incorporating microbreaks into your workday can help reduce fatigue, improve focus, and prevent burnout.

The next time you find yourself hitting a mental roadblock, take a quick microbreak to stretch. You should also take a few deep breaths and just close your eyes for a moment.

Active Breaks

Who says breaks have to be sedentary? Not us, that's for sure! Active breaks are all about getting your body moving and shaking to get those endorphins flowing.

Whether it's going for a quick walk around the block or doing some standing desk exercises, engaging in physical activity during recess can help boost your mood and improve your overall well-being.

Plus, it's a great way to sneak in some extra steps and counteract all that sitting we do during the workday.

However, if you absolutely have no other choice than to spend the entire day sitting in one position, make sure you invest in an ergonomic chair. The S-curve lumbar design on such equipment will prevent strain on your lower back.

Active Breaks

Nature Breaks 

Are you feeling a bit stressed or overwhelmed? Take a cue from Mother Nature and head outside for a stroll.

Spending time in nature reduces stress, improves mood, and boosts creativity. All of these elements are essential for optimal performance at work.

Take advantage of nearby parks, rooftop gardens, and even that patch of grass right outside your office building. Even just a few minutes spent surrounded by greenery can work wonders for your well-being.

Social Breaks

Work doesn't have to be all business, all the time. In fact, taking breaks to socialize with your coworkers can be incredibly beneficial for your well-being and performance.

Whether you're chatting about last night's game or engaging in brain-break activities for adults, connecting with your colleagues can help reduce stress, build relationships, and foster a sense of camaraderie within your team.

Don’t be afraid to take a break from your work to connect with the people around you – it's good for your soul.

Mindfulness Breaks

In today's fast-paced world, it's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. However, taking a lunch break at work to practice mindfulness can let you slow down, center yourself, and recharge your batteries.

It doesn’t matter if you practice meditation, deep breathing, or simply take a moment to appreciate the present moment.

Adding mindfulness into your break time can reduce stress, improve focus, and enhance overall well-being. Most companies these days also have a modern office break room or pod where you can unwind and relax.

On the other hand, work-from-home (WFH) employees can check out prefabricated models. Such units are easy to install and are great for creating a separate space inside your property.

Not all breaks are equal when it comes to improving well-being and performance at work. By incorporating a variety of break types into your workday, you can optimize your productivity and boost your mood.

Mindfulness Breaks

A Few Things to Do When You Need a Break at Work

Are you feeling like your brain's about to explode from all those spreadsheets and emails? It's time to hit the pause button.

However, what should you do when you need a break at work? Don't worry, we’ve got your back! Here's a list of fun and refreshing activities to help you energize and come back to your tasks feeling refreshed:

Take a Walk

Step away from your desk and get those legs moving. Taking a brisk walk around the office or even just around the block can do wonders for your mood and energy levels.

Plus, a change of scenery can help clear your mind and give you a fresh perspective on what you're working on.

Take a Walk

Stretch It Out

Sitting at a desk all day can leave your muscles feeling tight and tense. Why not take a few minutes to stretch it out? Roll your shoulders, reach for the sky, and touch your toes – your body will thank you for it.

There are tons of non-equipment workout videos on YouTube as well, so you can always check those out.

Grab a Snack

Sometimes, all you need is a little pick-me-up to power through the rest of your day. Keep some healthy snacks on hand, like fruit, nuts, or yogurt, to give you the energy boost you need to tackle your tasks with gusto.

Although irresistible, try not to munch on refined carbs throughout the day. Foods like cakes, bread, pasta, potato chips, etc., can cause drowsiness.

Grab a Snack

Chat with a Colleague

Are you getting lonely or isolated? Reach out to a coworker and strike up a conversation. Whether you're talking shop or just shooting the breeze, as mentioned before, connecting with your colleagues can help boost your mood and build relationships. 

Listen to Music

Put on your favorite tunes and let the music work its magic. Listen to something upbeat to keep yourself motivated. On the other hand, play a soothing tune to help you relax. A good playlist can make all the difference.

Listen to Music

Do Something Creative

Flex your creative muscles and do something fun and creative during your break. Doodle in a notebook, write a silly poem, or brainstorm ideas for your next passion project – the sky's the limit!

Play a Quick Game

Who says breaks have to be all work and no play? Fire up your favorite game on your phone or computer and challenge yourself to a quick round of solitaire, Sudoku, or Candy Crush. It's a great way to give your brain a break and have some fun at the same time.

Our favorite thing to do during a smoke break at work is play Jenga. It’s a fun game where you can include colleagues. Playing in a group of four to six can make things interesting and positively competitive.

Daydream

Sometimes, the best thing you can do during a break is nothing at all. Give yourself permission to daydream, let your mind wander, and indulge in a little mental escapism. You'll be amazed at how refreshed and inspired you feel when you return to your tasks.

Go Outside

If you're lucky enough to have access to the great outdoors, take advantage of it. Step outside for some fresh air and sunshine and soak up the natural beauty around you.

Go Outside

Final Words

Taking breaks at work isn't just a luxury – it's essential for your well-being and productivity. When you're working non-stop, your brain gets tired.

It's like trying to run a marathon without ever stopping to catch your breath. Eventually, you're going to hit a wall. 

Thus, it’s necessary to give yourself a chance to catch your breath, stretch your legs, and maybe even grab a snack. When you come back to your tasks, you’ll feel energized.

On top of that, you might just discover that taking a break at work is the secret ingredient to becoming the most productive version of yourself!

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