Taking breaks is the easy life hack for better productivity
We live in a more digitalized era than a couple of years ago. It has changed our lives and influenced our routines, directly affecting our physical and mental health.
Especially when it comes to the work environment, conditions reconstructed, and many of us now working from home since the pandemic started. Those little moments we used to have in our offices with our colleagues, friendly spaces, and rituals created inside our work atmosphere went away. Among those moments, our unconsciously needed breaks went away too.
Those breaks represent more than what they used to, now that we don’t have them. They kept us afloat throughout the day. Working from home, we need to force ourselves to take them, which somehow seems more difficult now.
Why are breaks necessary?
According to studies, the thinking part of the brain – the prefrontal cortex – is in charge of focusing on your goals. It’s in charge of logic, decision-making, and even the use of willpower.
That part of us understands why taking a break in a long work hour session is so important. But how is it so challenging to do?
If we pay attention, the brain, like a computer, has a specific capacity to perform tasks, but if we force it to overwork. For a moment, we can get frustrated, tired, and angry.
If we are self-aware and know our limits, we will pause to recognize them and stop when needed. That way, we may avoid being filled with negative feelings, and we get to be more productive afterward.
How does the lack of breaks affect my productivity?
Among the psychological studies that have been done on this topic, the following consequences have been identified as:
– Lack of motivation: By spending an extended time on a task, the brain loses focus after a certain amount of time, and frustration comes into play in a significant game. It’s advisable to gradually split large tasks and distribute them with breaks or more straightforward tasks.
– Physical fatigue: When sitting all day, the body and the spine, particularly, resent it since we do not give it adequate mobility to decompress after so many hours in the same position or wrong positions. The advice, in this case, is to set the alarm clock: force yourself to stand up and practice some stretching, and, if possible, walk a little.
– Loss of creativity: When we reach the point of mental fatigue, our creativity is almost null since we are forcing the brain when exhausted and stressed.
– Fatigue in decision-making: If our work has constant decision-making and we do not have consistent breaks, it can cloud our judgment and unnecessarily complicate the more simple tasks.
It can also directly affect our personal life!
It is advisable to identify the points of the day where these decisions are made and schedule breaks in which, if possible, leave your work environment to clear the mind and therefore be able to have more clarity of judgment.
It is imperative to create spaces during the day where you can take a walk, either in nature or in the city, a break with some coffee, snacks, or even a smoothie. Take the time to have a chat with someone else if possible.
Give your brain enough time to refresh and restore.
What if I can’t take breaks?
Taking breaks can be difficult in some places where the organizational culture is not the best, or you have an overload of work, or you feel like you are needed at all times and can’t leave. The constant pressure that those factors can hold on you is nothing but negative and more obstacles to your growth.
If you feel deprived of liberty, that should be an influential element to reconsider the work environment you want to work in and the one you are in now. Your health should always be a priority, even when a workaholic society dictates otherwise, and it seems more challenging to consider it as such freely.
– Get into the habit of taking breaks! Schedule them and set alarms.
– If you are working from home with someone else, plan these breaks to support each other and create a healthier work and living environment.
– If in the office, try to schedule these breaks with your colleagues so you not only take advantage of them to rest, but this creates bonds and strengthens the team’s synergy.
Examples of good breaks:
You have to consider that the extent or availability to take breaks will depend on the place where you work, there are places where the schedule is rigorous, and we can not take 30 minutes to walk, so this is the first thing we must take into account.
The following are good examples of breaks you can take that will serve to reactivate your brain and give it the care it deserves:
– Breathing exercises: They will help you calm your heart rate, anxiety levels, and hence the cortisol levels, the stress hormone in the body.
– Physical exercises: Physical exercises will always be a good option during breaks since they not only take you out of your workspace but also generate substances that are very positive for the brain, such as endorphin, the happiness hormone.
– Take a shower: If you are at home and under a lot of stress, taking a shower is always a good idea since water calms the frequency of brain waves, lowers blood pressure, and regulates palpitations. Remember all those times when you have great ideas while taking a shower? That’s why.
– Power naps: It consists of taking about 15 minutes to rest. During this time, the brain slows down, producing it to relax, be more alert after the break, and improve your cognitive functionality, making you more productive.
– Meditate: Meditation is always a good idea, as you only need about 5 minutes, a good guided meditation, relaxation music, or be quiet and relax for a few minutes while you consciously direct your brain to a state of peace and wholeness.
– Creativity: If your work is very logical or depends a lot on decision making, doing opposite things like painting, drawing, or playing an instrument, makes the right part in charge of creativity activate, and this gives a break to the logical part of the brain, which creates a resting space.
Breaks are vital. Treat them as such.
Our brain has certain limits in our day-to-day lives that we must internalize, learn to interpret, and pay more attention to because we often want to achieve meaningful things but feel stuck for some reason.
If we do not give enough rest to our brain, it will only fill with fatigue to reach the dreaded burndown, which is difficult to recover. It will affect us both mentally and physically.
There’s a lot of pressure with today’s hustling culture, which pushes into our minds as the correct response to treating work.
Live to work.
This ideology can easily break someone, now more than ever, where the conditions of working and enjoying free time have changed so radically. We have many opportunities to enjoy life and live beyond a profession.
The Hustle is nothing but hurtful.
According to the Cambridge dictionary, Hustle is “to make someone move quickly by pushing or pulling them along.”. And often, this action is encouraged by business, but the truth is that we have to adapt to a better way of living than just rushing along.
So, are you ready to stop and take a breath?
If you are one of those who never stop and eventually take a break only when the body and the mind are already burned out, take into account that that rest is almost a recovery. You should follow the signals of your body and give it the priority it needs and deserves. It is not only beneficial to our current mental and physical health, but you will see them in the long run too.
Take care of yourself, the benefits will show, and the happiness will increase. If we want to go further, we have to go slower.
At DNAMIC we are committed to both professional success and personal growth. We care about your happiness and your health. Our open-door policy encourages communication to avoid burnout.
Within our culture, we have cultivated the feeling of a safe space and honesty, where everyone is heard and encouraged to build their best life. Want to work with us? Learn more about our Careers and join the team!