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Breaks: The Definitive Guide to Why They Work and How to Use Them

Mar 8, 2022
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Table of Contents

Many of us find ourselves saying “Boy, I could use a break right about now” during the workday. When you get that feeling, do you actually take breaks when you feel like you need one?

According to CNBC, most workers don’t. If you are part of this stressed-out majority, you might not take breaks for a number of reasons. Perhaps you feel less productive when you incorporate them into your schedule, or maybe your schedule just doesn’t seem to have the room for breaks in the first place.

There are a lot of reasons people avoid breaks, even when a break would be incredibly beneficial. In this article, we’ll go over why exactly breaks are so important, and how you can fit them more easily into your busy schedule.

Why Do Breaks Matter?

There are plenty of advantages to taking breaks, and a lot of them are backed by scientific research. Let’s have a look at some of the top reasons why you should be taking more breaks.

They’re good for your health

Many of us discount taking a break because not working might stress us out. However, the opposite is true: studies have shown time and time again that taking breaks not only reduces work stress, but also that reduction in work stress can actually lower your risk for cardiovascular disease and sleep disorders! This isn’t to say that you should be on a break all the time or procrastinate; short breaks (when part of a productive schedule) can work wonders for your mental and physical wellbeing.

They Make You More Productive

We all know what this is like firsthand: you’re trudging along through your work, getting things done at a snail’s pace, unable to concentrate on the tasks at hand.

But all of a sudden you get distracted. Maybe it’s mealtime, or you have to go grab the mail or engage in a light-hearted conversation.

So deal with it, and find that you can work on tasks with a little more vigor and enthusiasm than before. After that brief moment of freedom, it becomes a lot easier to do your work all of a sudden. Sometimes, a few minutes break from thinking about the same task is all our brains need to get back on track.

Helps With Long Term Thinking

Being productive and honing in on one task at a time is fine, but there is something so…inorganic about the whole process. Our brains like to naturally drift off to other topics, what we’re having for dinner, long-term goals, or whatever.

This is why breaks are so amazing: they let us zone out from the specifics of our tasks and let us take it all in. When we aren’t forced to focus, we think about our future, we get to be spontaneous. Perhaps most importantly, breaks allow us to be spontaneous.

How do I fit effective breaks into my schedule?

Besides just having more time, there are a few key traits that separate people who take regular, high-quality breaks and those who don’t. Here are some tips to help you out.

Take a Full Break

It’s easy to get into the habit of taking a “half break.” This can look like eating while you work, starting on another task when you break from your first task, or simply not letting your mind relax away from what you’ve been doing. But if you aren’t putting yourself fully into the break, you won’t get all the advantages of it.

Our recommendation? Block out anything that feels remotely productive. The whole point of taking a break is to recharge instead of keeping at your work. Taking half breaks leads to a cycle of never really getting to stop one’s work and enjoy their surroundings. To avoid the sluggishness that comes with taking a half-break, invest yourself into the laziness of a good and proper break.

Find an Enjoyable, low brainpower task

If you’re not supposed to do anything related to productivity during a break, what exactly does an effective break look like?  

Anything that requires minimal thought and brings you joy is perfect. This can vary from person to person, especially depending on how active you like to be. If you aren’t trying to get your exercise in, you may enjoy reading a book or having a conversation with someone nearby.

Stay Away from Screens

Face it: screens aren’t that healthy as a break. You can spend your time mindlessly scrolling through social media on your phone or watching Netflix on your computer, but it won’t make you feel that much better when you sit down to get work done.

Plus, a quick break with a screen is never a quick break. Soon enough, you’re spending way more time than expected on it, and you might even find yourself trying to be productive.

So how can you stop this potent addiction? We offer software to block your screen time until you’ve taken a long enough break. It’s got a bunch of customizable features and we really encourage you to check it out if you’re serious about kicking your bad screen time habits.

Schedule Your Breaks

Another great feature our software offers is the ability to schedule breaks for when and how you want them. This is crucial for taking good breaks. We need a way to consistently reward ourselves and know that we will get to rest on a regular basis as we work.

Get the Blood Flowing

The modern workforce is full of dull, sedentary tasks. Sit at a screen all day and watch artificial lights, fold the laundry, and pay bills. All of this stuff is so tedious, and never really gets your heart beating.

Change the tempo with breaks that give you a rush of endorphins. Go for a walk or run. Take an ice-cold shower. Get some push-ups or yoga in. If you can get some adrenaline going, you’ll feel a lot better when you get back to the grind of productivity.

Mar 8, 2022

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