If you feel that you’re working too much, taking 15-minute breaks at work could deliver a lot of benefits you might not have previously considered.
Employees working overtime and without breaks is becoming the norm, unfortunately. Whether they’re working for minimum wage or they’re raking in six-figure salaries, employees are putting in more hours worked than ever.
More than half leave vacation days on the table at the end of the year.1
Break time can help you in many different ways. It can make you not only more creative and attentive, but also more productive.2
Here’s a look at just how important it is to step away from the desk for a little while each day, whether it’s for a quick meal period or just to get a little fresh air.
Your Brain As You Work Hour By Hour Without Breaks
You might feel that you don’t even have enough time to step outside for a few minutes for a quick coffee break. What you might not realize is that by not taking any breaks, you could be hurting your brain.
Research indicates that working nonstop can affect the connections in your brain, increasing the risk of developing neurological issues.
Working hour after hour without a break can weaken the connection between two areas of the brain known as the amygdala and medial prefrontal cortex.
The weaker the connection, the more trouble people have controlling their emotions.
There is also evidence that working too hard can increase thinning of the frontal cortex. This part of your brain is critical to normal thinking. Research shows people who suffer from burnout due to hours of work with no break have more pronounced frontal cortex thinning.3
Break Time: How Can Employees Benefit From 15 Minute Breaks at Work?
When an employer allows employees to take breaks, they’re helping them in a lot of different ways. For example, it helps them retain their focus and avoid getting bored. You can be in a good work rhythm, but that only lasts for so long. Once that rhythm goes away, it can be very easy to lose focus. Taking a break can help create a diversion to keep your mind fresh.4
Regular breaks also make it easier for employees to retain information. Stepping away from work helps you relax.
When you let your mind wander, instead of remaining laser-focused on your task, you might be better able to solve a work problem that may be stumping you.5
Taking breaks also helps you step back and reevaluate the way you’re approaching your task. Breaks may help you realize you’re not going about your work the right way. If you constantly keep your nose to the grindstone without taking a break, it can be hard to see the big picture.6
If most of your work requires you to be in front of a computer you’ll want to make sure to give your eyes a rest every so often. Looking away from your computer screen for a couple of minutes here and there can help prevent headaches and eye strain. In addition, consider blue light blocking glasses or apps to further protect your eyes.
Most importantly, taking a break from constant hard work can benefit your health and well-being. Working for extended periods of time without a break can have a negative health effect on our body and mind. Practice getting up to take a 5-minute walk or do some stretches every so often. It’s important to implement these healthy habits throughout your workday and in effect, you’ll benefit the overall work that you do.
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