Oh yes, the title resonates with that secret desire in each one of us. I mean whether it’s some strenuous back-breaking labour or some white-collared desk job, at some point we do need a break from it. A little away time from our work is needed for us to get back the spring in the step. And the benefits of taking this much-deserved, much-needed break have often been downplayed (for obvious reasons!). And since I was whining about it in the morning, what better subject to write about than this?
Breaks as Productivity booster
The first and foremost reason for taking a break is that it improves productivity. Constantly working on the same thing can cause burnout and affect focus. Taking a step back or doing something totally disconnected from it, give the mind a breather. Mental fatigue could lead to reduced motivation, anxiety, stress or even frustration. Not worth it.
One of the benefits of taking a break during the day helps lighten the mood, reduces anxiety and cools down the rising temperatures. Talking to colleagues or co-workers, exchanging ideas or just a light banter are such established mood elevators that even the hawkish boss or the all-knowing HR won’t object.
And when someone is seen taking a break, it should not be seen as unprofessionalism or unbecoming behaviour. Nor should you feel guilty about it. Be honest, don’t you feel recharged or refreshed after a small break? Of course, you do. That’s why take a break, grab a cuppa coffee and saunter over to that eager-beaver colleague and show them how to enjoy the work.
Reduces stress – Take a Break
Stress, the silent pandemic of our current times. How many of us have had this condition at some time or the other during our professional lives! Yet we don’t want to learn from it. Stress has led to lives getting upended because one did not heed the signs in time. Regrets do not correct the self-inflicted wrongs.
Add to the ominous stress clouds at the workplace, the current lifestyle trends of most of us are not conducive to creating a stress-free environment. Eating out, late-night TV bingeing, continuously being online, addiction to our phones – these do not help reduce stress. Where does the brain get time to detox and recharge? If you truly want to give yourself a break while at work, then step away from the gadgets and try to have an actual conversation with the people around. No messaging or mails, just social interaction. Believe me, it’s the best kind of break.
Another benefit of taking a break is it helps creativity. Even a non-creative person like me agrees with it. When you take a short break, it allows you to think differently by disengaging from routine tasks and shifting the focus to something different. Sometimes we get so stuck in the rut that it becomes very difficult to think of new and more efficient ways of doing the work. Let’s-just-get-it-done-the-way-it’s-happening becomes our attitude to work. This is not the mantra for being anything but another mechanical clog in the workplace.
Small, regular breaks are much needed. It infuses fresh energy into the weary brain. Once the brain is able to breathe or feel alive, it will generate better ideas, more creative solutions to problems, and most importantly increase positive vibes at work. Sometimes interacting with others gives you ideas you were not able to get yourself because you were so stuck being the hamster on the wheel. Who wants to work in an uninspiring work environment? How can you give your best when your mind is tired, overworked or just not feeling into it?
What’s a break?
Taking a break does not mean some Insta-friendly pics or status updates. Stuck in front of the computer for hours? Get up, do a few stretches (to avoid a doctor’s visit later), have some water, walk over to your colleague or friend, and spend some non-gadget time. All this can happen in five to ten minutes max, and the end result will keep you going for a few more hours, happily.
Remember, it’s a break, a pause, in the work, not a full stop. Most of the time, the break extends to an hour and that’s when it stops being a welcome activity. No boss wants to see the subordinates enjoying larger break times than actual work time. There are a couple of corporate offices around our neighbourhood and I get to see the live action of people out for a break. The leisure at which the nearly hour-long break happens causes me heartburn. Now that’s what I’ll not call a break. Honestly, if only I had such luxuries of frequent hour-long tea breaks, maybe I too would have reconsidered my job options (working from home allows no breaks, even during break time!).
A break is when you’re doing something different from your job. Solve a crossword, or wordle, read the newspaper, doodle, go for a walk, read a chapter from a book (there’s a small list of books at the end of the blog which you can read fast), a quick snooze, anything which pulls you out of the rut, puts you in a different space. Using a different part of the brain will shake it up, remove the complacency. It will not be spewing brilliant ideas immediately but you will surely feel more relaxed.
Since mental health is of primary importance these days, remember that breaks are also part of ensuring good mental health. It’s an essential exercise in self-care. An overworked, overstressed mind sends all the wrong signals to the body. And this leads to many avoidable health conditions like increased blood pressure, heart ailments, chronic pains and whatnot.
Taking a break is non-negotiable, but that’s just one part of the whole process of taking care of yourself. The benefits of taking a break cannot be stressed enough. Develop a more holistic approach towards life and strive to create a work-life balance so you can breathe and live life, and not trudge through it. Go now, take a break!
Disclaimer: Here are some recommendations for when you take the break. If you buy any of them using the affiliate links, then I get a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Some recommendations for books which you can read in a day (or two) and can be good conversation starters.
- Who Moved My Cheese? by Dr Spencer Johnson
- Who Will Cry When You Die? – Robin Sharma
- The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari – Robin Sharma
- Ikigai – The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life – Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles
- Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom
- Make Your Bed – William H. McRaven
- The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
- Siddhartha – Herman Hesse
Take a minute to smell the roses!
Take a pause….and enjoy life.