Skip to content

Why You Should Take More Breaks

by Beth on August 20th, 2018

According to Anne Lamott, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” Human beings are not machines. We need down time in order to function at our best. Constantly being on with no time to rest or disconnect negatively impacts our productivity, health, and relationships. Yet society today pushes us to go, go, go. We feel guilty if we aren’t doing something productive and we pride ourselves in being busy. The ideal employee is available 24/7.

This has to stop! We need to take breaks throughout the day, disconnect from work when we are home, and go on vacations.

We perform better when we take breaks. In his book, The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working, Tony Schwartz proposes a 90-minute work cycle for maximizing productivity. He cites a study of violinists in which the top performers typically practiced for three sessions, none of them longer than 90 minutes, with breaks between each session.

In his book, When, Dan Pink identifies five rules for restorative breaks: 1) something beats nothing, 2) moving beats stationary, 3) social beats solo, 4) outside beats inside, and 5) fully detached beats semi-detached, meaning don’t think about work or use your phone during your break.

We also need to disconnect from work when we are home, using the time to connect with family and friends, engage in fun activities or relaxing pastimes, and go to bed early enough to get a good night’s sleep.

Vacations are also important. Yet according to a survey of over 2,200 U.S. employees, only 54 percent take their paid vacation time. In another study of Millennials, 59 percent reported feeling a sense of shame for taking or planning a vacation.

Not taking vacations has serious mental and physical health consequences. Men who don’t take vacations are 30 percent more likely to die of a heart attack. Women who don’t take vacations are 50 percent more likely to die of a heart attack and 2 to 8 times more likely to suffer from depression. The risk of burnout is also higher if you don’t take vacations.

We need to change the way we think about breaks. Breaks help us to be our best selves. The ideal employee is the one who goes for a walk outside in the middle of the afternoon, doesn’t send emails from home at night, and comes back tan and rested after a week at the beach. Is that you?

From → Success, Well-being, Work

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Note: XHTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS