Why Take Breaks?

By: Chelsy Swackhamer

Do you feel you get more done when you don’t take a break during the working day? For many of us, this is the case. As your to-do list is growing more and more, it feels nearly impossible to take a break. Unfortunately, this is a common misconception that many of us feel. It’s easy to believe that by taking breaks we are being “lazy” or losing time to get things done. But the reality is, that isn’t true. When we don’t take breaks we are more receptive to stress, burn-out, and lost productivity.

However, the majority of us aren’t productive for an entire workday. Honestly, we are far from that. An article by Inc. Magazine discussed that in an 8-hour workday, we are only productive for 3 hours. 3 HOURS, out of an entire work-day is productive. It's challenging to stay productive when their are a million distractions in your way. But there has to be a reason to why we need breaks and are less productive, right? 

Our brains need rest

Our brains need time to rest, and without a proper break, they aren’t able to do that. How often do you feel like you can just rip your hair out because you can't remember something? Or maybe you've been staring at the same problem for over an hour without a soultuion yet.  A study done by the University of South Florida found that our memory is better when we take breaks compared to when we don't.

While the University of Illinois also had a study that tested 84 subjects, who were divided into four groups that all performed the same repetitive, computerized task for 50 minutes. The results found that those who don't take breaks, performed  worse after 50 minutes compared to those who found time to take breaks. Breaks do really effect our overall performance, mental health, and physical health.  

So then what are some of the negative effects of not taking breaks? 
      1. More errors in our work - the longer we work on something without taking a break the harder it is to stay focused and avoid errors. 
      2. Risk for burn-out - those who come to work every-day and just sit at their desk without leaving are high subseptable to burnout. We need time to socialize, take breaks, and add variety to our working day.
      3. Muscle/Joint Pain - our bodies aren't built to sit for 8 hours a day. Much of our neck and back pain is caused from being sedentary. Your posture plays a huge role in all of this.
Positive effects from taking breaks.
      1. Creativity - when you spend a lot of time doing the same thing, it becomes challenging to find new solutions. Getting away from your workstation and moving to a new scenary can help your brain rest and find new and innovative ideas. 
      2. Less stress - multiple breaks throughout the day help employees to lower stress. By taking some deep breaths or even just getting up and walking around the office for 5 minutes, can have a huge impact on stress levels.
      3. More focus - with all the emails, meetings, small tasks, and constant distractions it's easy for time to pass quickly without feeling like you have gotten anything done. A break is a great chance to refocus on your daily goals and what tasks you need done.

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