Why Leisurely Taking Your Breaks Will Benefit Your Health, Productivity and Success

taking-breaks-makes-you-more-productive

It doesn’t matter if you’re a student, an employee, a freelancer or business owner; you should... actually need, to take a break.


Stop working on lunch breaks; stop thinking, discussing about work during these times. Abandon the need to constantly check your emails. Just take your time, with pleasure, having your break.

When you keep working during your break time you’re candidly exercising the liberty to clutter your mind. You may think you’re being productive; sorry to burst your bubble, but the opposite is true.


Did you know that it is scientifically proven that taking a break from work not only helps you to be more productive, but also allows room for creativity resulting in better performance? Not only that, it’s also good for your health (or at least prevent you from worsening your conditions).


Dear readers, science has announced that the mind can only function, concentrate, and even absorb new information for only a few straight hours. Specifically, results of researches made by Floru, Cail and Gao et al states that performance starts to deteriorate after 50-60 minutes of continuous work.


Web-Us published article entitled "Memory, the brain and it's natural learning rhythms", can attest to this. To quote, "The breaks will give your mind a chance to rest from learning, and doing something different will actually stimulate it." Synonym by Demand Media, an eHow Education site, also encourage students and professionals to do so. One article written by C.A. Rubino highlighted the importance of taking breaks because our brain needs time to rest and digest the information it has received.


Recent studies also indicates that when memory is first recorded in the brain (hippocampus) it can still be forgotten if the brain is asked to do more things. Taking a break, like napping, helps put the new information to the more permanent storage of the brain (neocortex).

From Master Student to Master Employee, a book written by Dave Ellis, notes that we cannot absorb new information and ideas during all of our waking hours. In the words of the author, if you overload your brain, it will find a way to shut down for a rest whether you plan for it or not. By taking periodic breaks, you allow information to sink in. During these breaks, your brain is taking the time to rewire itself by growing new connections between cells.


If you’re a student or a corporate employee that works at least eight hours a day under scheduled breaks, say for 15 minutes to an hour for lunch; then take it unhurriedly. If you’re on a leadership/management position, a business owner, consultant or a freelancer, or working on a job that does not require you to take breaks in specific time intervals - delightfully heed this advice: take at least 10 minutes break for every hour that you’ve worked.


No, I am not implying that you should prioritize having a time-off over work. That is definitely not the case, instead, the suggestion is such as the need to sharpen the saw, breaks will help you perform better physically, emotionally and most especially, mentally!


be-easy-on-yourself


Taking a break is crucial to your health, productivity and success. Here are two solid reasons why:


First, a well-rested mind is more productive than an exhausted one.


Let me not start by citing scientific findings; let me instead remind you of the many times you stop-and-stare.


Do you remember the time you studied so hard or prepared for an exam? With hard, I mean studying continuously until  late at night and then waking up early to review your notes only to end up staring at the test questionnaire draining your mind. The worst part is, you can’t seem to remember the answers! Albeit, you know you really did study thoroughly!


The case is simple; your mind is exhausted. If you don't allow it to rest, it will shut down by itself. Maybe not totally and literally power off, but it will give you warning signals here and there and sometimes in an untimely manner. Liken to a computer, your brain is the motherboard, once you fail to optimize it, start neglecting it, eventually it will lead to performance issues.


The same is true when you’re working, your brain is the busiest part of your body. Ask your colleagues if you stare-blank from time to time. Please don’t assume it’s normal. However, it’s not the only indication to look for. Try checking yourself: are you feeling exhausted? Having difficulty concentrating? Do you feel tired all the time? Are you feeling impatient constantly?


Freelancers like myself, consultants, executives, business owners and the like may feel that it’s a requisite to be productive. The demand of work affect our earning capacity as well as the security of holding on to that position; not to mention our performance should be congruent not just for our own benefit, but for the welfare of the company and the people we have committed to serve. Nevertheless, we have to deliberately stop being crisis managers and from time to time distance ourselves bustling. In the words of Stephen Covey, activity does not equal productivity. You may be busy doing a lot of things, but does it really make you productive? Is the quality of your work, or the results you seek at its best? Ask yourself and be honest.
Take breaks because a well-rested brain thinks faster, is more alert and sharp. It will give you better chances in completing your tasks effectively and efficiently. Remember, numerous studies proved that doing so leads to enhanced performance.


break-up-with-stress


Second, time-offs helps you avoid burning-out, improves your well-being and help you manage stress


Taking at least 10-15 minutes walk, stretching, and even napping can increase your ability to remain calm in difficult work situations. A time-off signals your brain to calm down and that you’re not on a panic mood. It prevents you also from being stress to the point of unusual pulse rate, high-blood pressure and other stress-induced conditions.


Robert Stickgold, a neuroscientist at Harvard University in Cambridge, research' findings suggest that the "burnout" sensation that comes with any sort of information overload may result from fatigue in specific brain regions. "Burnout is a signal that says you can't take in more information in this part of your brain until you've had a chance to sleep."


Scheduling a 15-minute break before you burn-out is also suggested by Harvard Business Review. This is because we have a limited capacity for concentrating over an extended period of time. Usually we don’t know how to recognize fatigue, but they do derail our work.


Your entire being works well when given proper rest. Too much of everything has never been good. So remind yourself to relax and think: work hard, play harder.


If you’re having trouble doing so, encourage yourself to meditate, indulge in a good music or literature. I also suggest memorizing quotations or biblical verses that impacts you powerfully. My go-to verses in the Bible when dealing with work were mostly found in the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. There’s just so much insights packed in its entirety. I hope it’ll open your eyes too; if not, I pray it will help you question your life as a whole.


“Do not wear yourself out to get rich;
have the wisdom to show restraint”
- Proverbs 23:4

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