Whenever I felt exhausted or overwhelmed with work, my colleagues always tell me to “take a break.”

On the other hand, my supervisors seldom encourage me to take breaks as they feel that taking breaks is just wasting time and highly unproductive.

Are there any benefits to taking breaks? Is there any research that breaks can improve studying and work performance? Read on.

The benefits of taking breaks

Are there any benefits to taking breaks?

Taking breaks allows your body and mind to rest, allowing you to regain energy and concentration. Breaks can range from short breaks throughout the day to larger breaks such as a lunch break or vacation. Breaks can help you reduce stress, improve your concentration, and boost your motivation.

Working for long amounts of time without breaks has been demonstrated in studies to have a negative impact on our productivity and creativity. For example, a Princeton University study discovered that taking regular breaks during the day can improve focus and productivity.

Other research has revealed that having a lunch break can boost creativity and problem-solving abilities. Taking pauses may be the answer if you’re seeking ways to boost your academics and work performance!

Taking breaks can improve your grades

Many students believe that the more time they devote to studying, the higher their grades will be. However, this is not always the case as research has shown that studying for long periods of time without taking breaks can be detrimental. When you take breaks during the day, these breaks can help you focus and remember more.

So, how do taking breaks help you get better grades?

Taking breaks can increase energy and concentration, reduce stress and frustration, and boost motivation. Breaks can also help students focus and retain more information. Studies have shown that breaks can boost your capacity to focus and increase your drive to continue studying (Martin).

Another study by psychologist Karrie Godwin showed it is more effective to give several 10-minute lessons instead of giving fewer 30-minute lessons, as this minimizes distractions and maintains focus and attention (Karrie, et al.). In other words, it’s more effective to learn and study in short bursts!

What about exercise breaks?

In this study, a class of psychology students was split into three groups when they attended a one-hour lecture. Group 1 students performed a series of callisthenic exercises during the lecture. Group 2 students spent their break time playing computer games. Group 3 students were not given any breaks during the lecture.

Results from the study showed that exercise breaks promoted attention throughout the lecture. Group 1 students also gave higher ratings to the teacher and they seemed to understand the material better than the other two groups. This study showed that exercise breaks do promote attention during lectures and improve learning (Fenesi, et al.).

How can students get these benefits?

To get these benefits, you must choose what type of break will work for you. Some of these breaks include closing your eyes, looking at something else instead of your book, doing something else, taking brief walks, and eating healthy snacks.

You can set a timer to help you stay on track and ensure that you take frequent breaks throughout the day. Short walks can assist you in clearing your mind and refocusing on your study. Eating healthy snacks can give your brain fuel and keep you energized during your study.

Taking breaks can improve work performance

The benefits of taking breaks from work can be just as great as the benefits of taking breaks while studying. Regular breaks can help reduce stress, boost creativity, and boost productivity.

Taking breaks - vacations
Vacation break

Longer breaks like vacations and long lunch breaks are very good for enhancing work performance. Studies have shown that taking vacations helps reduce stress, improve creativity and problem-solving skills, and increase productivity. Other studies showed that taking a lunch break can improve work performance by reducing stress, promoting creativity, and increasing productivity.

Reducing stress, fatigue, and absenteeism

Regular rest breaks, in general, can be an efficient way of maintaining performance, managing fatigue, and minimizing the accumulation of risk over prolonged job performance. While two-hour breaks are common in many industrial settings, scheduling additional micro-breaks can be beneficial in some cases (Tucker).

Workplace stress has serious implications for employees and the organizations they work for. Senior managers should encourage their employees to take advantage of their time away from work to recover and re-energize as this is critical to their health as well as the long-term health and sustainability of organizations (Fritz, et al.).

Watching short-form videos is becoming more popular as a form of micro-break during leisure time at work. A study on micro-breaks found that employees who watched short-form videos significantly improved their mood and task engagement, relieved their physiological stress, and maintained their task performance (Liu, et al.).

What about lunch breaks?

Many studies have found one-hour lunch breaks to be essential as they have a positive impact on employees’ health, performance, and reduced stress at work. These studies also give support to preventing absenteeism, improving job satisfaction, and employees’ positive attitude towards work (Hakro, et al.).

How executives can make the most out of these benefits

There are several ways to take longer breaks to help you perform better at work:

1. Taking regular vacations can help relieve stress and boost productivity.

2. Taking short breaks scheduled throughout the day can help you refocus and refresh.

3. Taking a lunch break can boost your creativity and problem-solving abilities. And if you eat with your colleagues, lunch breaks can also be an opportunity for collaboration and sharing.

4. Taking a short nap after a learning session can improve your memory and increase your productivity.

Conclusion

Taking breaks can help reduce stress, improve concentration, and increase motivation.

Short breaks while studying can help you focus and absorb more knowledge. Longer breaks like vacations and long lunch breaks, can enhance creativity, problem-solving skills, and work performance.

So, take breaks frequently and get the most out of them.


References

  • Fenesi, B., Lucibello, K., Kim, J. A., et al. “Sweat So You Don’t Forget: Exercise Breaks During a University Lecture Increase On-Task Attention and Learning.” Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, vol. 7, no. 2, June 2018, pp. 261-269.
  • Fritz, C., Ellis, A. M., Demsky, C. A., et al. “Embracing Work Breaks.” Organizational Dynamics, vol. 42, no. 4, 2013, pp. 274-280.
  • Hakro, S., Jameel, A., Hussian, A., et al. “A Lunch Break Time and Its Impact on Employees Health, Performance and Stress on Work.” Journal of Pharmaceutical Research International, vol. 33, no. 38B, 2021, pp.84-97.
  • Karrie E. G., Almeda, M. V., Seltman, H., et al. “Off-task Behavior in Elementary School Children.” Learning and Instruction, vol. 44, August 2016, pp. 128-143.
  • Liu, Y., Gao, Q., Ma, L., et al. “Taking Micro-Breaks at Work: Effects of Watching Funny Short-From Videos on Subjective Experience, Physiological Stress, and Task Performace.” Applications in Arts, Learning, Well-Being, and Social Development. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-77077-8_15
  • Martin, G. A. “Brain Breaks: Strategies to Help Kids Destress and Manage Emotions” National Youth Advocacy and Resilience Conference, 46, 2023. https://digitalcommons.georgiasouthern.edu/nyar_savannah/2023/2023/46
  • Tucker, P. ‘The Impact of Rest Breaks Upon Accident Risk, Fatigue and Performance: A review.” Work and Stress, vol. 17 no. 2, pp. 123-137.