Taking a break at work is not only beneficial for your physical health, but also for your mental health. This post elaborates the importance of taking breaks from incessant work.
Evidence that Breaks Help!
A recent study conducted at a call center had this to state. 50% employees who took short and regular breaks upped their performance by 33%. Apart from that, they were capable of dealing with a large volume of customers, giving them precise information.
Knowingly or unknowingly, many people who have desk jobs end up skipping their breaks or take very few of them. This habit of not taking breaks, actually affects their physical and mental health in many ways.
Many orthopedics and chiropractors encourage those who spend long hours sitting in an office chair to take short and frequent breaks so as to mainly readjust their posture.
Many employers discourage their employees from taking breaks, because they feel that going for frequent breaks reduces productivity. However, one important point that they completely forget is that, if their employees do not take breaks, they get bored sitting at the desk and get tired of staring at the computer screen.
The human mind starts to wander if there is no break to the monotonous work. That is why people who sit at their desk for long hours are more often than not daydreaming or looking up things on the web that are not really work-related, thus hampering the productivity.
Here, know why it is important to take breaks at work, and how effective will it be for an employee to take frequent breaks.
How Breaks Benefit Health
Taking short and frequent breaks helps to avoid many physical health concerns that are common with people who work for long hours at the desk.
When you sit at your desk for long hours in one position, your blood circulation gets obstructed.
This is bad for your overall health, as poor blood circulation is an underlying cause for many health concerns, like joint and muscle pain, hair fall, acne, obesity, low metabolic rate, lack of concentration, muscle soreness, cramps, etc. Taking a break for 15 minutes every 2 hours helps in increasing blood circulation and preventing these health issues.
Concentrating on one task for a long period of time takes a toll on your physical health and raises issues, like blood pressure, diabetes, poor fitness, low resistance to viruses, and bacterial infections.
If you are getting stressed out by sitting in the same place and maintaining a rigid posture that your office chair provides, then get up, stretch your muscles, and for sometime, allow your mind to wander and calm down.
Picture this: You are sitting at your desk, working, and slogging for hours on end. You feel sleepy, hungry, or thirsty, so you grab a coffee or something fried to keep you full.
This habit of consuming food or beverages may lead to a stroke, heartburn, excess cholesterol, etc. Taking a break to do a few breathing and stretching exercises, or eating a fruit away from your desk works wonders for your heart.
Having blurred vision, headaches, and watery eyes are signs that you are putting too much strain on your eyes. Staring at your computer or laptop screen perpetually is not good at all.
You should blink often, close your eyes for a minute every half an hour, and also keep shifting your visual focus from your screen every 5-10 minutes. Taking a bathroom break to splash water on your eyes is a very good idea, specially when you feel a burning sensation, dryness, or itchiness in your eyes.
Your office chair is definitely not the most comfortable seat in the room, but you have to endure it for the sake of your work. Choosing a chair that keeps your posture upright and well-balanced is a good option, but it is still debatable.
No matter how comfortable the chair is, people still tend to sit incorrectly, causing posture problems. Stress is put on the muscles of the back, shoulder, neck, legs, and arms, causing aches and pains.
Stretching and desk exercises are a good option if you are anxious about your posture. Getting up from your seat and walking for a small period (say 5-10 minutes) is good. These methods are supported and suggested by most orthopedics and chiropractors.
Sitting in the same place for long hours at a stretch will make anyone bored, mentally tired, confused, and frustrated. Taking breaks for the sake of your mental health helps in counteracting the following concerns.
Stress and Fatigue
The major anxiety attacks, mental burnouts and breakdowns, memory problems, chronic stress, mild cognitive impairment, etc., take place due to mental stress and fatigue.
To avoid this, one must take a small break to energize the mind, have a fresh outlook towards a task, and have a change in scenario so that concentration and focus are improved.
When you sit in one place for long hours, you tend to lose track of time, making you actually waste precious time on one task. Poor time management skills affect targets set for employees. Taking breaks helps in making people realize the importance of time and helps them manage their time better.
Creativity gets hampered when the mind is focused on the same topic for a long time. You end up having just one perspective on the task at hand, and thinking out of the box becomes difficult.
For a fresh approach to your work, taking a short break is the best solution. It helps you refresh your mind. Discussing ideas with your peers helps you get a better perspective on your task, thus helping you perform better.
Break Time Activities
Breaks taken should be short – ranging from 10 to 15 minutes, every 2 hours.
Activities that should be indulged in during your break are –
- Listening to some music
- Stretching taut muscles and loosening stiff joints
- Breathing and eye exercises
- Retrospection of the task from different angles
- Having coffee, tea, or eating a fruit
- Taking a short walk to breathe in fresh air
Activities that should not be indulged in during the break are –
- Idle gossip
- Disturbing other employees
- Talking on the phone on unnecessary issues
- Forcing others to take a break with you
Taking a break is important if you are in a job that requires you to sit at a desk for long hours, but taking one to avoid work is looked down upon.
Genuine reasons, like health and fresh air are acceptable every two hours, but taking one every hour for longer than 10 or 15 minutes is abusing the right to take your break. Take small breaks so that you are happy and healthy, and so is your employer.