Working, studying, and just keeping up with life in general – it can be really stressful. We have so much to do all the time, it often feels like we don’t have any time to take a break. However, taking breaks is absolutely essential to performing well.
Research has shown that taking breaks can be beneficial for you and your productivity. In fact, taking short breaks throughout the day can reduce and prevent stress, help maintain your performance, and reduce the need for a really long recovery at the end of the day. Additionally, it can increase your energy levels and decrease exhaustion. Taking breaks can even decrease the chance of developing fatigue, sleep disorders, and cardiovascular disease.
Breaks can also improve memory because your concentration is increased in shorter sessions. Using the Pomodoro method is a great way to study so that you allow time for your brain to process information. In addition, research has shown that taking breaks can boost your creativity. If you feel frustrated working on the same thing for a long time, take a few minutes to step away. When you go back, you might have some new ideas. Furthermore, taking a break can restore or improve motivation. Studies have actually shown that hyper-fixating on a single task for a long time can hinder your performance.
Taking a relaxing break can return your mental functions to their original state, while also resetting your mood. Taking a social break, like talking with other people, can allow you to feel like you’re a part of a group and more connected to others.
However, when you do take a break, you have to make sure it’s reasonable and effective. Don’t take an hour long break after working for only five minutes. Use an alarm, or let someone else know about how long you plan on taking a break, so that you stay accountable. Do something enjoyable during your break. This not only motivates you to keep working until your break, but it can also serve as a change of pace from what you were doing earlier.
During your break, try to get some physical activity in, even if it’s just standing up, stretching, and pacing for a few minutes. Sitting for too long can increase risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, etc. If you can, go outside for some fresh air and a change of scenery. You can also grab a quick snack or drink to replenish your energy.
If you’re really tired, consider taking a power nap for 10-20 minutes. Make sure not to sleep for too long, though – you might just end up feeling more tired!