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Why It’s Important to Take Short and Long Breaks from Work - Valley Schools Arizona

Why It’s Important to Take Short and Long Breaks from Work

If you’ve ever experienced brain drain, idea or writer’s block, creative malaise at work, you’re not alone. We’ve all experienced these productivity inhibitors at some time or another during normal work hours. The struggle they present when trying to get things done can be debilitating for employees and leaders, alike, no matter what industry you’re in.

Research presented in Psychology Today suggests ‘think-work’ utilizes the prefrontal cortex (PFC), or thinking part of your brain. When you are doing goal-oriented work that requires concentration, the PFC keeps you focused on your goals. The PFC is also responsible for logical thinking, executive functioning, and using willpower to override impulses. That’s a lot of responsibility—no wonder it needs a break.”

The question is: How do we overcome this very real challenge?

The solution is quite simple: Give your brain the break it needs. Walk away. Literally, go for a walk. Get a breath of fresh air. Eat a healthy snack. Do what you can to give yourself a much-needed pause in your day. You’ll be surprised at how the simple act of “taking a break” and hitting pause can get your brain and your emotions back into action.


Benefits of Taking a Break


The overall benefits from pressing pause on your work activities are more productivity, happiness, and an optimistic attitude on work and life.

Think of taking a short break from your work as a mini-vacation for your brain. You’ll be re-energized and refocused with renewed energy to complete the task at hand.

Taking breaks (including an actual vacation) helps us avoid workplace burnout. Pausing for 10 or 15 minutes a few times per day could drastically increase your productivity.

Employing this simple concept, allows you to succeed while maintaining mental wellness. A key part of overall well-being.

Further insight on this topic can be found here.


Get the Most Out of Short Breaks


Simple things like taking a walk, stretching, or quiet meditation can work wonders. Desk yoga is a growing trend among many workers.

In addition, taking a “mental health day” is completely appropriate and can reap huge benefits. For these days, be sure not to jam your day off with errands and appointments. Instead, have lunch with a friend, take in a movie, do your favorite hike, or spend time on a hobby you love.

While the pandemic has put a dampener on taking longer breaks, there remain many solutions to get much-needed rest and relaxation. Stay in a local resort or embark on a day trip. Go camping. Visit a national park. Your vacation goals can be accomplished if you’re creative in your approach.


Signs That You Need a Break


You know your mind better than anyone, but sometimes work takes over, and you feel obligated to over-perform. Many find it incredibly difficult to take a break, despite knowing and understanding its benefits. The simple notion of a vacation or time-off can cause anxiety or the concern for ‘what will the company do without me.’

In fact, a shocking study from the U.S. Travel Association found that workers in the U.S. had nearly 770 million vacation days that went unused in 2017. Unlike our European counterparts, many Americans have a hard time grasping the value and the importance of rest, relaxation, and especially time-off, away from work, unless they see the signs that they need it.

How do you know you need a break?

The warning signs of stress at work are plenty. No appetite, a dreadful feeling when you arrive at work, lack of sleep and being short with co-workers or family members are tell-tale signs that your mind and body are saying, ‘enough.’

Many workers find that short breaks are a successful tool for overcoming stress, mental blocks and a lack of creativity. Your boss, your colleagues — and your inner self — will appreciate the self-care mentality that taking a break will bring. Life is better with a healthy and rested mind.

This article from Verywell Mind has some great tips for you to consider.


We’re Here to Help Prevent Employee Burnout


For more information about our wellness program, supporting your employees, and partnering with VSMG, feel free to reach out to speak directly with a member of our team.

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