If you have a lot to do, take regular breaks. Find out about the counterintuitive advice of taking breaks to get more done.
Are you surging ahead in life? Is your life becoming too fast for comfort? Why not take a break?
What did I just say?
Do you think you have a lot more to achieve and you just can’t afford to take breaks? Does this sound like your life?
If this looks like your life, you are not alone. Many people find it difficult to switch off from their daily activities. They feel so busy achieving their goals and targets that they do not have time to have a break.
I am afraid they are grossly mistaken. Research has shown that a break can do wonders to increase your efficiency and productivity. Breaks have a direct and positive relationship with productivity as well as well-being.
In this article, I will share the 5 benefits of taking regular breaks and 5 ways to take them.
Benefits of Taking Regular Breaks
1. Helps Our Brain To Focus Better
Research shows that regular breaks help us to focus; thereby, allowing us to process information in a better way.
Our brains get tired after continuous work, and taking regular breaks helps our brains to relax. Our brain demands time to rest, regroup, and gather its thoughts. We are then able to focus better when we resume work.
For example – you do yourself more harm than good if you skip your lunch when you are in the middle of work that demands intense focus. It’s just like how an athlete allows his body to rest after an intense training session.
2. Helps To Generate New And Creative Ideas
Research has shown that when we take a break, our brain doesn’t just stop functioning. Instead, it is busy digesting different ideas and making connections between them.
Have you ever solved a problem, or got a new idea while taking a shower or another non-cognitive activity? That is because our brains make sense of our experiences when it gets a break.
A brain at rest doesn’t mean an idle brain, and that is why we often get new and creative ideas during a break.
3. Healthy For Our Mind Snd Body
Today’s fast-paced work culture takes a heavy toll on our mind and body. Work is the most prominent source of stress and we often run the risk of burnout, without even realizing it.
Constantly working and not moving much puts us at a higher risk of several diseases like heart ailment, diabetes, and depression. Taking regular breaks to move around can lead to increased energy levels and improved health.
It also decreases exhaustion by returning our psychical and mental systems to their base levels. Besides, a relaxing break helps a great deal to reset our mood. Thus it reduces stress and promotes our wellbeing.
“All that is important comes in quietness and waiting.” ― Patrick Lindsay
4. Helps Us Make Better Decisions
A well-deserved break allows you to have a good look at the bigger picture and make better decisions. When you are too engrossed in a complex task and your brain gets tired, you are easily distracted from what is important, and you tend to procrastinate. In a state of busyness and overwhelm, you also tend to make poorer decisions.
When you take a break, you give yourself a chance to reflect on your priorities and goals. Your motivation goes up and you can assess whether you are giving due importance to the right tasks/projects. This will help you make better decisions.
5. Help Us Do More And Be More Productive in the Long Run
All of us want to be more productive at work, right? Research proves that taking breaks refreshes our brains, re-energizes us, and improves engagement levels.
All of the above directly lead to higher productivity over the long term. You might think you can do more in a long day, but you can’t sustain that pace without risking burnout or other health issues. Taking regular breaks and reducing your work hours will make you more likely to sustain that pace for the long term.
How To Take Breaks?
As we have seen, taking small breaks regularly can be of immense value to your health and productivity. Now let’s take a look at 5 different ways we can do that despite our busyness:-
1. Take a Walk in Nature
Take a stroll amidst nature. One recent study has shown that it is a wonderful remedy to calm your mind. They call it a “nature pill”.
By nature, any green area would do – a small park in your neighborhood, or if you have a water body (river, lake) nearby. Personally, I love walking in Amsterdam because the presence of water eases off any stress I might have.
2. Pomodoro Technique
This is a method of time management developed in the ‘80s. It breaks down work into time intervals (usually 25 minutes), separated by a short break of 5 minutes. These intervals are called Pomodoros. One can extend the break duration to 15 or 20 minutes after about 4-5 Pomodoros.
You can give it a try. You may download any Pomodoro timer app on your smartphone and split your workday into short bursts of Pomodoros. Do ensure though that you step up from your desk and do something completely different for the break duration.
3. Notice What Is Going On Around You
Being mindful of little things going around you is another way to give your cognitive brain a break. Take a few deep breaths and relax your mind and body.
Notice the faces of people around you – the smiles and the frowns. Notice the different sounds you can hear – birds chirping, people walking, of a printer or a coffee machine, etc.
Doing such mini-meditations for even a minute or two has been shown to be helpful.
4. Take A Small Nap
A small nap of 10 to 20 minutes during the day is one of the proven ways to rest your brain and increase not just your health and well-being, but also your productivity.
5. Engage Your Right Side of The Brain
Most of our cognitive tasks which involve thinking and logic happen on the left side of the brain. Another way to give our brains a break is to do something that engages the right side of the brain – which is more creative.
Drawing, painting, listening to music, or just imagining and visualizing are some of the ways to engage our right-side brain and give our thinking (right side) brain a break.
- 12 Quick Mini-Meditations to Calm Your Mind and Body
- Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime
- The Overwhelming Benefits of Power Napping
- How to be Happier and More Productive by Avoiding ‘Decision Fatigue’
- Is It True That “Movement Is Medicine”?
- To Become a Better Writer, Be a Frequent Walker
- Research Reveals How to Take a Better Break