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There’s a proverb you have probably heard, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”.

While this is true, working without breaks leads to other side effects that pale in comparison to boredom, like stress, fatigue, and burnout.

Giving yourself time to recharge your batteries is easier said than done. However, taking breaks at regular intervals has many positive benefits. Plus, it can also reverse the negative impacts that have come from not taking breaks.

To get a better understand on the impacts of taking breaks and how to make the most of your time away, here’s some helpful information and valuable tips.

Negative Impacts of Not Taking Breaks at Work

Contrary to popular belief, not taking breaks is counter-productive to your work. It’s bad for your focus, concentration, decision-making ability, and also personal life.

On average, 3 to 4 hours is the maximum focus span for an individual. If you go without breaks even within these hours, you’re hurting your work more than helping.

Along with possible burnout, you’re also likely to suffer from the following:

  • Decision fatigue – It comes from making hundreds of decisions each day and not being able to “switch off”.
  • Lack of separation from work – When you’re constantly “on”, you’ll bring home more work stress and fatigue than being able to unwind and rest.
  • Real fatigue – Without separation from work and with decision fatigue kicking in, it’s not too long before real fatigue kicks in, leaving you physically drained. Symptoms range from headache, sore muscles, and dizziness to lowered immunity, poor mental health, and loss of appetite. It also reduces your motivation and concentration span drastically.
  • Impaired sleep – The constant stress and fatigue will inevitably wreak havoc on your sleep.

Positive Impacts of Taking Effective Breaks at Work

Getting rid of stress, improving productivity, and boosting social relationships are only some of the benefits of taking effective breaks, even while working from home.

Giving your brain the much-needed downtime and “switching off” from work stress can make all the difference to your health and well-being while also making you better at your job.

Here are some of the benefits you get if you take breaks the right way:

  • Better focus – Your focus is likely to be renewed after a break since your mind has had the time to break away from stress.
  • Better productivity – You’re likely to get more done in a shorter time with a deeper focus and a better span of concentration.
  • Improved decision-making – You will make better decisions if you step away from the stress, even if only for five minutes, and engage in something unrelated.
  • Energy boost – You can maintain high levels of energy throughout the workday if you take breaks at regular intervals to de-stress and recharge.
  • Improved creativity and alertness – Engaging in a mindful activity not related to work for a few minutes can increase your creativity and alertness (even more than caffeine!)

 

Getting rid of stress, improving productivity, and boosting social relationships are only some of the benefits of taking effective breaks, even while working from home.

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How to Take Effective Breaks

Effective breaks are those that help you relax, refocus, and re-energize yourself. Studies show that taking a short break of 5 to 15 minutes every 2 hours and a long break of 30 minutes every 4 hours is the most helpful.

The first step to taking an effective break is knowing when to take one. You should take a break when:

  • Your eyes are tired of looking at the screen
  • It’s lunchtime
  • Your head feels heavy with information or stress
  • You’re losing creativity
  • When it’s beautiful outside

But don’t break your flow! Keep going if you’re on a roll, regardless of scheduled breaks.

When it’s time for a break, focus on doing something completely unrelated to work. Scrolling through social media or venting to coworkers doesn’t help, so avoid it. Here are a few things you can do in your short or long breaks:

  • Take a walk or stretch
  • Complete a small errand (changing a light bulb or taking food out of the freezer, for example)
  • Unplug from your devices and meditate, even for just 10 minutes
  • Do something you enjoy, like listening to music or reading
  • Clean a part of your workspace
  • Enjoy a part of nature you have easy access to
  • Play with pets
  • Spend time with kids
  • Talk to a friend (not about work)

Also, remember to use your vacations days and take real time off from work. It’s also important to take a day off when you’re feeling overwhelmed, especially if you’re juggling work and home together.

Conclusion

Burnout is very real, and prevention is literally effortless, so not waiting until you’re fried to a crisp to take a break should be a no-brainer. Plus, it can be difficult to counter the effects of burnout.

Still, the pressure from work and deadlines can make it challenging to allow yourself to disconnect but by following the tips above you can avoid negative effects altogether.

At Quotacy, we understand the importance of building a future for your family. This is why life insurance is so important for keeping them financially secure, especially if they rely on your income to live the lifestyle they currently do.

Ready to see what you’d pay for life insurance? Start with a free quote today.

Not sure how much life insurance you need? Check out our free life insurance needs calculator.

Note: Life insurance quotes used in this article accurate as of July 21, 2021. These are only estimates and your life insurance costs may be higher or lower.

 

About the writer

Headshot of Natasha Cornelius, a life insurance writer, for Quotacy, Inc.

Greg Lewerer

Director of Creative Strategy

Greg is Quotacy’s Director of Creative Strategy. He has an eclectic past from working on movie scripts to creating ad campaigns for major brands. His love of creative solutions drove him to strategy, and he now uses his powers to help families protect their loved ones. Outside of work, Greg spends his time off the grid hunting, fishing, camping, biking, hiking, and walking his dogs.