The Importance of Taking Breaks
Breaks?! Who has time for breaks?!
Between running errands, getting the kids to school on time (cripes! Did they take their sports kits??), commuting to work, managing time at work and an overbearing boss, making sure to call the mother-in-law to check she’s booked that Doctor’s appointment she’s reluctant to book and a million and one other tasks on the ever-growing to do list, where on earth is the time to take a break?
I don’t know about you but taking a break feels ever more like a luxury just beyond reach whilst anxiety - and the washing mountain - pile up...
As someone heavily invested in and interested in psychology, I’ve done a fair bit of reading into the research behind breaks and want to help change your experience from a much-like-the-past-me, exhausted, perpetually tired and at-the-end-of-my-tether grump with the brain fog big enough to engulf Missouri to a more relaxed-yet-awake and wildly more functional human being.
Is that not a bit ’zen’ you say? Or at least that’s what past-me would have said... I can wholeheartedly, after reading the research and implementing it myself, say no. It’s achievable and readily achievable too!
I’ll come on to work-based break patterns and how to take an effective break in another post as for this one, I’d like to focus on the benefits of breaks and how to include them in your day.
The Benefit of Breaks
Breaks reduce stress - our brains need a change in scenery or task periodically to avoid boredom - yes, you can be busy yet bored! - which contributes to our stress levels. The reduction in stress levels can have a huge impact on other areas of our lives and overall wellbeing
Breaks increase creativity - have you ever experienced it when stuck with a problem, the solution randomly hits you whilst you’re doing a completely random task? Like that solution to a relationship issue or work challenge that hits you mid-shower? Well, that’s because even when taking a break from something (whether a rest or a different task) our brains are still working in the background
Breaks can give us more energy - can an athlete run at a consistent pace forever? No, we as humans simply weren’t designed to. We have internal rhythms that mean we experience ebbs and flows of energy. By harnessing the highs and recovering in the lows, we can feel like we have more energy and can accomplish more than we could by trying to hammer through the lows and scramble through the highs
Breaks increase metabolism and help alleviate back pain - when taking a break, we typically will move to another location or use some form of movement in the actual break which can all contribute to an increase in metabolism. For the very same reason, this movement can ensure we’re not stuck in the same seated position for too long which would likely contribute to back pain
Breaks can help our sugar levels - and thus productivity too. By not taking a break, we can forget to listen to our bodies and eat when we need to which can hamper our ability to focus as well as our mood (hangry anyone??). Getting into the routine of taking a break, we can schedule in time to eat and eat something that’s right for us whether that’s some pretzels or PB&J
Whether it’s taking a break from what you’re doing to do another task or taking a full break to relax, unwind and recover from the day, remember that you are a human being not a human doing and breaks are essential to our wellbeing. No guilt allowed.