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The Importance of Taking Your Scheduled Breaks at Work

27 August 2021

Avoid the burnout of your 9-5 by taking time for yourself

Let’s face it, we all forget to give ourselves a little time to take a breath and unwind. With things constantly coming at us during our daily work life, the most needed break tends to become a distant memory. There is always a need we have to strive to be noticed or rewarded for going the extra mile. 

Work is just that, it’s work. Working hard is ingrained into us since the dawn of time. Working hard and doing things efficiently is what helps us pay our bills and feed our family. It is necessary to always be on your A-game and continue to climb up the corporate ladder. There is a sense of pride we all get when getting noticed for doing a good job. Even the perks behind it such as raises, more benefits, or the occasional small reward is something that puts a jump in our step.

Before long we start to feel the weight of all that hard work on us by the end of the week, or sometimes during the middle of the week. If we continue to work and keep our nose to the grindstone without a moment to ourselves, we tend to get burnt out fast. It is like staying up all night and still trying to tackle the next day as if you had a full 8 hours of rest. Much like staying awake for more than 24 hours, or taking a break for yourself could cause you to crash physically as well as mentally.

Crashing will always hit us harder than it should, especially if you are putting that added pressure on yourself to keep going. Imagine pushing a boulder uphill without taking a moment to rest. You are more likely to get the boulder up that hill faster with a couple of breaks mixed in as opposed to continuously pushing it uphill non-stop. 

The thing out about our bodies is it has limits. While pushing those limits can sometimes benefit us, constantly pushing those limits will end up hurting you in the long run. We forget to remember the fact that any companies we work for want us to take breaks, it’s why they offer them. Companies want their employees to do well at their job. That usually starts with making sure their employees are happy and healthy. 

Businesswoman laughing during conversation with co-worker

A happy, healthy, and well-rested employee is more likely to do their best work 5 days a week

This is especially true when compared to someone who is constantly pushing themselves without some time to mentally unwind. Your mental health is another thing to take into consideration with breaks. How you feel mentally will overall affect how you can potentially feel physically. 

Your physical and mental health being affected while you work tends to make you want to work less, focus on the tasks you are doing and sometimes even want to get out of bed the next day. Considering the current state the world is in with the continuing precautions we are taking against COVID-19, many people are still stressed every day they work. 

There have been many people who have their mental health slowly dwindle due to lack of socializing with their co-workers, feeling cut off and isolated while they work from home. Mental health should always be a priority. How you feel mentally affects how you can feel physically. Granted physical health should be a top priority as well. 

If your mental health starts to dwindle it could affect your focus, your motivation, and even start to affect the way your body can feel. Stress is a hard thing to avoid, but with the right tools, you can keep a great balance between your mental health and physical health. 

This feeds into the need for breaks. If you have a way to shut your brain off, chit chat with friends or maybe enjoy that mobile game you have been itching to play, when you’re back working it will feel just as good as the moment you started. We all take breaks in our ways. Some of us enjoy a light snack while we are on our breaks while others feel the need to get in a little bit of exercise. 

Both can be quite effective but a nice walk on your 15 minutes or longer break is a great way to refresh. Pop in your favorite playlist, podcast, or audiobook and take a stroll. Whether it be around your office or your neighborhood if you are working from home, a brisk walk can do wonders for your mental health. 

Again, everyone tends to relax differently. The best thing to do is to find a great balance of healthy and entertainment. Breaks are all about finding those little moments in joy during your workday. The key to a break that truly affects the rest of your workday (or until you get to your next break. Don’t just take one a day) is to find a synchronized balance between everything. 

If on this particular day you are over-stressed and just want to work through the day to get it over with, don’t. Stressful days like this are absolutely a HUGE reason for you to enjoy a break or two. Subconsciously that stress will still be boiling up in the background of your mind while you are trying to work your frustrations out with work tasks. Before long the day will arrive and on your drive home, you will realize you are still stressed. No one wants to bring work stress home with them. It is never good to mix that with home life. 

We all know that happy home life is very important. Carrying all that restlessness, stress, and whatever your workday brings on your shoulders when you get home will just keep cycling to the next day. Breaks at work enable us to enjoy our drive home from work, our night at home, and even much-needed relaxation on the weekends.

Weekend breaks are such a stretch goal when it comes to working. Some may even pine for it at 9 AM on a Monday (we have all been there), but setting that goal of enjoying your first break is much better for your mind. If you tend to be eager for something so far away, it tends to eat at you until it finally gets there. 

Happy tired businesswoman stretching arms in modern office

Incorporating these mini stretch goals throughout the day will also be hugely beneficial for you mentally. We tend to hold onto anything that will make us happy or motivate us, so why not aim for something a little more within arms reach? 

Setting your goal to work tell your first break, relax, work towards lunch, and so on will not only make you feel much less stressed at work but will also make the day that much more enjoyable. No matter how you feel mentally and physically at work should be just as important as turning that last-minute assignment on time in. Yes, deadlines are super important but are they important enough to undo progress mentally and physically? No, it isn’t. 

Don’t worry about what will happen next or what you need to be prepared for work-wise. Go on those breaks, enjoy anything that makes you happy and overall remember to make wise decisions towards your health. 

As mentioned earlier, some people do enjoy eating snacks on their breaks. While this is ok, it could lead to stress eating and not making the smartest decisions when choosing your snacks. Some of us tend to depend on the snacks that work provides, but the best way to avoid making poor snack decisions while you work is by bringing a healthy snack from home. With that readily available you will avoid those unnecessary hits to your physical and mental health.

Obesity is a big concern and it has been for the last few years. Since the pandemic, a lot of us have used stress eating on breaks as a way to cope. Once you make yourself aware of the negative effects it has on you making the change will boost your mental and physical health so much that you may not even need to snack on your breaks anymore. 

Having a little snack on your break can be helpful but overall staying hydrated on your breaks will also help throughout the day. This is another big benefit of breaks. If you are giving yourself time to rehydrate during the day you are allowing your body multiple chances to replenish more often than just the breaks. You are utilizing your breaks to fill up your water, but also having that nice micro-break while you work to drink it. 

Staying hydrated has proven to also help with motivation, mental health, physical health and even being more efficient. So remember that you deserve a break just as much as anyone does. Don’t push yourself more than you have to but keep your eye on the ways you stay motivated. Your break will be that shield to block out any and all of those bad things attacking your mental, as well as your physical health.