Can Taking a Break Actually Increase Your Productivity?

Does this sound familiar? You work long hours but never seem to complete anything. You feel like a failure because you are not meeting expectations at home or work or both. To compensate, you work harder and sleep less and you are now stressed out and exhausted. Then when you share how stressed you are with coworkers, friends and family, they say “Join the club.” Well, it’s time to unjoin the club.

Many of us have the mindset of the more time I put in, the more I can produce. How many times have you worked straight through lunch, worked overtime and brought work home, sometimes forgetting to eat or raiding the vending machine just to get something into your stomach?

It’s time to reset your mindset! Recent studies have shown that people who take breaks, even short, frequent breaks, are more productive than those who take just one break a day or those that take none at all. In fact, working for long extended periods of time is detrimental to your health. It can lead to exhaustion, increasing your chances of having serious health related issues.  It can also lead to weight gain, because you are too tired to make healthy food choices or fit in time to exercise.

How can you decrease your stress and increase your productivity?

Take time to exercise

Try to work some form of exercise into your day. The Mental Health Foundation says that overworked people should try to reduce stress through exercise, relaxation or hobbies. So, get up and take a quick walk at lunch, use the stairs instead of the elevator, or add a gym-time reminder to your calendar. Poor physical health can lead to an increased risk of developing mental health problems including depression and anxiety. The healthier your mind and body, the more productive you will be.

Take frequent breaks

There will be days that you won’t have time to get up and walk around, but you should still take a break from work.  Take a few moments to call a friend to catch up, surf the internet to get caught up on the news or log-on to social media and see what family and friends are up to.  Just doing something small like this can help you shift gears in your mind allowing for more creativity and productivity.

Take time off

Take time off to avoid burnout.  Most jobs have their busy periods or seasons; often followed by a lull in work.  During the busy season, try to take one long weekend a month to escape from work and the pressure it brings.  During the lull, take a week-long vacation, unplug from everything work related and just relax. When it’s time to come back to work you will feel rested and ready to tackle whatever is next.  But not matter how you schedule your time off, whether by taking periodic days off, long weekends, traveling for a week, be sure to use up all of the vacation time allotted to you.  Roll over whatever time you can into the next year but use the rest up.  Never give your company back the time you earned off.

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