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The Importance of Taking Breaks

24 May 2023

When you're swamped with work and deadlines, it's easy to convince yourself you don't need a break - or that you can't take a break - because you have so many things to take care of. While an easy trap to fall into, taking breaks is actually very important, not just for your work, but also for your health and concentration.

If you skip out on breaks, you can easily end up becoming stressed and burnt out. Even ten minutes away from your work can help you feel more productive, more engaged with your work, and thus, more satisfied with it.

But can taking breaks really help that much? Let's consider the importance of taking breaks and how they can help you work better.

Why Breaks Are Important



Preventing Stress

The obvious reason breaks are so helpful is that they can help you prevent stress. Most of us don't realize how much stress can affect us because when we're stressed over our work, we just want to get it over with soon. But when you build up that stress, it can easily become chronic, and this starts affecting your health.

Stress can cause your blood pressure to rise, which further affects your heart health, among a number of other problems. Over time, as it keeps building up, you'll find that your work is also becoming more and more difficult because you are burning yourself out. With frequent breaks, you can prevent these problems by preventing the stress from accumulating.



Enhanced Mood

Breaks can also help you improve your mood! When you're working on the same thing nonstop for hours on end, it's understandable that you can get a bit irritable. Add the piling stress on top of it and that's just a recipe for a bad mood. When you take breaks often, you can prevent that problem by taking time out of your day for yourself to clear your head and do something you like.

Even small breaks can help because they can get your mind off the task at hand and let you relax a bit. You can use your breaks to catch up with your friends or take a walk around the place, which can get your blood flowing and get rid of the tension in your muscles. When you're not in pain while working, you're bound to work better and feel better too!

With longer breaks - perhaps a few hours or even a few days - you can spend more time on yourself! Draw something, read a few pages of a book, or maybe listen to some good music. Taking time for yourself with the intention of taking time for yourself will definitely lift your spirits.



Improve Physical Health

Besides just improving your mood, breaks also help with improving your physical health. When you spend too much time sitting, your blood doesn't flow as well as it should. Have you ever stood up after spending too much time sitting and had numb legs? That's one of the things you can avoid by taking breaks and walking around a bit every now and then.

Taking breaks and moving away from your computer screen can help you prevent all tension from building up in your muscles and keep you from developing various kinds of pains and aches. Not to mention, sitting comes with all sorts of downsides such as obesity, heart problems, diabetes, and even mental health problems like depression!

While ergonomic furniture like FlexiSpot's Comhar All-in-One Standing Desk can help you with this to some extent, it still doesn't solve all the problems that come with not taking breaks when you need them.

All it takes is a ten-minute break every hour or so to prevent all of these problems in one shot.



Spark Creativity

On top of avoiding all sorts of problems, taking breaks also adds to your creativity. When you spend too much time focusing on one thing, you may not be able to consider all angles of it equally. This is a frequent problem for a lot of people and can get very difficult to manage - especially when you need a creative solution to it.

Taking some time away from the task at hand can help because you'd be able to detach and come back to it with a fresh perspective. With this, you can better find more creative solutions to your problems and also feel better about yourself as a result. When you feel like you did a good job, you're bound to feel more motivated to keep going.



Motivation

Besides just creativity, motivation also comes from having energy and knowing how you want to go about your work. When the end is in sight, you're better able to work towards it. But when you're tired and burnt out, it's more difficult to focus on your work at all, and you end up crawling towards the end rather than rushing through even the simpler tasks.

Taking breaks helps you fight that exhaustion and restore your mental energy, which can help you work better and thus make you more motivated to finish up. This is especially true for longer projects which require a lot of time. You may think that longer projects need fewer breaks so you can actually finish up, but not taking breaks is actually more detrimental to your progress!



Memory & Learning

Breaks can also make you better at remembering things and retaining information. We've all heard of how cramming things at the last minute doesn't help, and while many of us still do it, you'd probably know that it doesn't actually help you remember much in the long term.

That's because when cramming, you're not taking the time your brain needs to process and go over the information it has received, which means it doesn't get to learn much from it. When you take breaks, you get to review what you learned or what you did, and thus get to retain the information much better than you would otherwise.



Review & Improve

Taking breaks doesn't just help you go over your work better, it also helps you improve it. This ties in a bit with the benefit it has to creativity. By taking breaks, you retain info better. This helps because it doesn't just improve your memory, it also helps with your understanding of the task at hand, and thus helps you unlock other facets to it that you may not have considered before.

Therefore, when you go over it again after a break, you're not just looking at it with fresh eyes, but also with new information that you didn't have before.

As a result, you're able to find areas for improvement that you wouldn't have been able to find otherwise. By skipping those breaks, you're keeping yourself from looking at the bigger picture and limiting your output quality.



Concentration

Did you know that you can only focus on something for about 15-20 minutes at a time? After this, your mind starts seeking a distraction, and you end up trying your best to focus on your work but failing. If you keep pushing, you may be able to focus a bit more for another ten minutes or so, but for the most part, you'd be struggling to keep your focus on the task at hand.

By taking breaks, you get to refuel by shifting your focus away and then coming back to it with a clear head. Your energy levels stay constant and so does your ability to focus on your work. Naturally, with better concentration and focus, you get to see better results.

When Should You Take Breaks?

Contrary to popular belief, there is no set rule on when you should take breaks. You might think your breaks are already decided for you - lunch break, tea break, and so on. But in reality, you should be taking breaks whenever you feel like you need one. This could be early in the morning or in the middle of the day, or even late in the evening.

For many people, breaks feel like something they're going to be judged for, especially if they feel that it is not the right time for a break. But taking breaks can be very beneficial, so it is recommended to take one when you feel like you need it. People won't complain if you're getting your work done after all!

On average, a five to ten-minute break every hour is recommended throughout the day. But this is not a rule, and you should gauge your own requirements. If you think you're engrossed in your work and are flowing through it very productively, it's best to leave the breaks for later. Take your breaks when you need them! Don't skip out and you'd find that your relationship with your work improves dramatically.