“Coffee’s for closers….” While that quote from the film Glengarry Glen Ross was meant disparagingly, today, the perception around breaks has changed. In fact, many scientists now believe that there can be many benefits to taking breaks during the day. Today, we’ll be looking at some of them, as well as different ways you can spend that time.
Benefits Of Breaks
1. Aid In Alertness
We have all experienced it at one time or another. Around mid-afternoon, your eyes start to get a little heavy. To combat this struggle, planning small breaks throughout the day can potentially help you remain alert, thereby giving you the focus to complete your tasks.
2. Regulate Stress
Whether stressed due to people or tasks, the truth is we all need to let off some steam. By taking frequent breaks, studies say you can regulate your moods and work more productively. After all, if you feel good, you play good, right?
3. Increased Cognitive Function
According to Psychology Today, the prefrontal cortex is responsible for concentration, logical thinking, and executive function. They also mention the issue of “decision fatigue”. By eliminating long periods of work, you will find yourself thinking more rationally and more effectively.
4. Help Productivity
Have you ever been faced with a project and are so intimidated by it, that you end up putting it off altogether? How did you end up accomplishing the task? You likely broke it down into more manageable segments. The exact principle applies to the Pomodoro Technique. This technique makes use of frequent short breaks interspersed with periods of work that have proven to be effective. The intended result is a more productive workflow.
Ways To Break
So now that we’ve established the benefits of taking breaks, how exactly should one take a break? There are a few different options.
1. Movement Break
Feeling a bit frustrated with your work? Take a walk! Seriously. According to these two Stanford graduates, “Walking opens up the free flow of ideas, and it is a simple and robust solution to the goals of increasing creativity and increasing physical activity.” They found that walking outside, in particular, produced the best results.
2. Snack Break
Last month, I wrote about the best foods for you to snack on. To reiterate, there are plenty of snack options that are not only tasty but have plenty of health benefits too. Next time you find yourself with writer’s block, consider helping yourself to a little block of cheese.
Maybe even a medium block. I won’t tell anyone, I promise.
3. Social Break
While most of this article focuses on the benefits of individual breaks, it is important to consider your need for socialization. Even the most introverted of us can’t spend every day hiding from human interaction! By getting up from your desk and taking a few moments to chat, you will find that you approach your tasks with renewed energy. According to Dr. Ben Waber, “In general when we look at what makes people happy and effective at work, it’s being able to spend time with a close group of people.”
I love naps. It’s a pastime of mine. More of a passion, really. However, I’ve rarely ever taken a nap at work. Perhaps I should start. After all, businesses like Google and Cisco are seeing the benefits of taking a mid-shift nap. NASA found that their astronauts performed 34% better after a 40-minute nap. Maybe nap time isn’t just for kindergartners anymore.
What are some of the ways you relax while at school or work? What restful solutions help you be more productive? Let us know on social media!