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The Surprising Benefits of Microbreaks

27 February 2023

When we think of breaks, we think of 10 to 15 minute-ones. Usually in this much time, you can get yourself a cup of tea or coffee, walk around a little bit and stretch your legs. These breaks, however, are not very frequent. Most workplaces won't look too kindly upon you walking around all the time.

But there is some good news: shorter microbreaks can be just as beneficial for your well-being as the 10- minute ones!

What are Microbreaks?

Well, what is a microbreak, exactly? As the name suggests, they are breaks that last a very short amount of time. Most often, microbreaks are activities that take about 30 seconds to 5 minutes. This could be something as simple as standing up in your spot and stretching, or heading off to the kitchen to get yourself some water.

Microbreaks have two main purposes: one, to break up the monotony of the day. You've been doing the same repetitive work for hours, and your body would be tired. These microbreaks can do quite a lot to help with breaking up this monotony and refreshing your mind.

Two, to include movement to your body throughout the day. There are plenty of reasons presented by research on why sitting still for long stretches is bad for your health. By taking these short breaks - whether you're just stretching in place or walking to the kitchen - you introduce more movement to your body throughout the day.

By definition, microbreaks should be short but how short exactly would depend on what you want to achieve. Ideally, you should be taking microbreaks every 40 minutes or so, and for at least 30 seconds. You should also try to fit some movement and stretching into your breaks, instead of spending them sitting in that same chair.

Benefits of Microbreaks

There are some surprising benefits of microbreaks that have been proven by science.

Improving Productivity and Focus

One of the biggest benefits of microbreaks is that they help with improving how well you can focus on your work, and thus increase your productivity. You'd think that constantly turning away from your work can be distracting, but in reality, it has the opposite effect.

Most people can only focus on any task for about 15 minutes at a time. Trying to focus for longer than this can have the opposite effect and tire you out.

Studies show that there is a decline in performance as you stick to a task, but if you take breaks, this decline is removed. The level of focus and productivity becomes constant when you take microbreaks.

Again, these breaks aren't long enough to divert your attention from the task at hand. Because they're very short, you don't lose your train of thought mid-way and still manage to refresh yourself.

Mental breaks keep you from becoming desensitized to the task you're doing, so your attention and performance don't drop.

Reducing Stress

Stress is a pervasive problem - it affects everyone, from students to office workers. In fact, according to a survey, about 83% of Americans in the workforce said that they find their job stressful.

Stress can be bad for your health since it can result in a range of other health problems - from mental health to headaches and cardiovascular trouble.

However, a 1989 study showed that people who took short breaks between periods of focus on their work actually had lower heart rates than people who did not, and therefore had much lower levels of stress.

Reduced stress also meant an improvement in focus since less energy is spent on being stressed, and therefore work-related errors were reduced.

Therefore, if you ever feel stressed while you work, just take a small 30-second break to do some quick stretches, look outside the window, or simply to practice your deep breathing. You'll be surprised by how much of a difference it makes!

Protecting You From Musculoskeletal Disorders

Musculoskeletal disorders include any problems that may include injury or pain in the muscles, nerves, joints, or bones of your body. These are most commonly a result of poor ergonomics, but quite often, jobs that require you to sit or stand for long periods of time - particularly in awkward positions - can also result in these issues.

If you work at a computer or as a cashier, or even in construction, you're at a much higher risk of MSDs than others.

Microbreaks can be very helpful in reducing these problems. A simple break every 20 minutes to half an hour - no longer than 2 or 3 minutes each - to stretch a bit can result in protecting different parts of your body from pain. Overusing your muscles can result in injury, but these repeated stretches can help improve blood flow and circulation and thus protect your muscles from problems.

Reducing Eye Strain

In the digital age, more and more people complain of problems like headaches, dry eyes, and reduced or blurry vision. These are largely due to the amount of time spent staring at the computer screen for long hours at a time.

Taking frequent breaks can also help reduce this eye strain and protect your eyes. In fact, taking microbreaks is what can result in the most significant reduction in eye strain - much more than any kind of drops or medicine you could use. Instead of overworking your eyes and then trying to fix the problem, it's best to not overwork them at all.

The most common, and popular, strategy is the 20-20-20 rule. This states that every 20 minutes you should look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. By doing this, you can reduce the stress you put on your eyes by constantly staring at the screen and protecting yourself.

In fact, if you think you have eye strain, it's a good idea to follow the 20-20-20 rule religiously, because you could be damaging your eyes otherwise. 20 seconds is how long it takes for your eyes to refocus, and is a very short amount of time, anyway.

Reducing Premature Death

"My job is killing me!"

We've all heard and said this statement at some point in our lives, but did you know it could actually be true? Of course, your job isn't chasing you around with a chainsaw, but sitting for long hours in one place can be reducing your lifespan, little by little.

The sedentary lifestyle that comes with a desk job often has irreversible effects: from bad cholesterol and metabolism to insulin resistance - all of which can reduce your lifespan. In fact, you may be at a greater risk of cancer than people who don't sit so much.

The only way to offset these problems is not to sit so much. This may seem hard but it isn't, really. A short break every once in a while to move around is all you need to do. Even taking a 5-minute walk around the room every 30 minutes to an hour can do wonders.

Flexispot Electronic Adjustable Bed Base EB011

So, most of us have probably not been taking the microbreaks we should have been taking, and that means we've already tired ourselves out. When this happens, rest also becomes difficult. Forget microbreaks, you can't catch any break, because every time you try lying down, every part of your body screams in agony.

The good thing is, now it won't! The Flexispot Adjustable Bed Frame keeps in mind the fact that everyone is exhausted from their long hours at work, and needs to relax. This bedframe comes with customizable comfort because you can adjust it to provide the right angle to rest your head. From 0 to 60 degrees, now you can find the best angle for reading, watching TV, and even sleeping.

If you're suffering from back pains, a regular bed might make you suffer every morning as you try to get up, but this bed base gets rid of those problems. By finding the right angle for your body, you can make sure you're sleeping comfortably and thus get rid of all the aches and pains you accumulate during the day.

The bed base can be used as a standalone, or it can be used without slats to fit in a regular bedframe as well. There are different height options to fit the different frames. If you already have your bed but want the benefit of the adjustment, you can still do that with this frame!

The base is made of stable, durable material and is motorized. The motor is very quiet (under 50 decibels) so you don't have to worry about waking anyone up as you adjust your bed position in the middle of the night. There is also plenty of space underneath for storage.

Of course, it's always better to simply prevent the problem by taking microbreaks. If you haven't been taking them so far, now's a good time to start! But until the effects of those breaks start to show, this adjustable bed frame has your back (literally).