Need a break at work? Don’t feel guilty!
More often than not, people think that the best employees are the ones who work non-stop — who maintain high standards of work and always seem to be juggling multiple projects at once.
But, is this really true?
Research has actually proven that taking breaks at work boosts your productivity, motivation, and ability to perform to your full potential.
Working hard? Take a break
According to Larissa Barber, organisational psychologist, assistant professor, and writer, our work is demanding. It requires us to focus on projects for long periods of time, avoiding distractions, and sometimes repeating our actions over and over. Taking a break can actually help to replenish the mental and emotional costs related to working too hard and help to boost your energy.
At some point, employees need to stop working to recharge their batteries. Short breaks during the work day can actually boost mental resources such as attention, ensuring good performance. — Larissa Barber
The main reason why people avoid taking breaks is “guilt”. Companies can solve this by promoting a pro-breaks culture; setting up game rooms, a meditation corner, a library, or even a pet zone in the company works wonders in helping employees relax and unwind.
Make sure it’s the right break
The one thing you need to consider when taking your work breaks, is to make sure you’re taking the right breaks — breaks that actually support your emotional needs and boost your energy.
That means no negative gossiping by the water cooler for 15 minutes or downing a double shot of espresso.
Larissa adds, “Employees tend to choose breaks that often do not work to their benefit. Some of the most popular breaks — like having a snack, drinking caffeine, or venting about a problem — are actually associated with more fatigue. This is because employees turn to these activities when they are already tired as a way to cope.”
The key is to make sure you use your breaks as way of building positive energy and emotions to help you return to your work tasks refreshed and energized.
Positive break activities
First things first, you need to make sure you’re actually scheduling some time in for your positive breaks. At Flock, we are encouraged to take regular breaks and play a game of foosball, hit the gym or take a power nap that replenishes the mind and body.
Other positive break activities include:
- Taking a walk — Stepping away from your desk and going outside for a walk is a great positive activity. It helps increase blood circulation and recentre your focus. You can also squeeze in a quick stretching routine to release tension.
- Meditating — Taking some time to meditate helps clear your head and refocus your thoughts. Find a peaceful corner in your office or if you’re a master, you can meditate amid noise and distractions as well.
- Speaking to a friend — Find some time to catch up with a friend outside of work. See if you can arrange to meet for a coffee or have a phone call. This will help increase feelings of social connectedness and be a positive distraction from work.
- Listening to music: There’s no doubt music is relaxing; but it also helps our creative juices flow, powers us up for physical tasks, and well for some, helps them take on the world. So plug in your earphones and pick a genre that suits your mood.
- Taking a quick nap: Taking a quick 15-minute nap will reboot your mind and energize you. Different duration of naps has different effects on your energy and mood.
- Getting artsy: Doodling, decorating your workstation, brainstorming with the design team for some projects are a great way for the creative and artsy to take breaks.
These ideas aren’t exhaustive, but when taking a break at work, make sure you’re consciously choosing activities that will leave you feeling positive, re-energized, and ready to focus — so you can make sure you’re working to your best ability.
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