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Monday, December 1, 2014

Breaking up the day: Why it is important to take regular breaks

Work and stress management
Work-life balance helps maintain health
 By Bill Turner

Admit it, some of us are workaholics and will carry on working straight through the Apocalypse because there is a report due in on Friday. However, your boss may see that you are a determined worker, but you might in fact be doing more harm than good in the long run.

While an employer will appreciate a dedicated employee, they will also appreciate one that takes care of themselves to make sure they are not doing themselves harm.

You should take regular breaks every couple of hours, 10-15 minutes to half an hour to either stretch your muscles or give your brain a break. To help you understand a bit more, we’ve compiled a list of why it is important and what you can do.

Keeps you focused

If a person goes without a break for too long, they could start to suffer from adverse effects such as  irritability, distraction and fatigue. Giving your brain a rest through doing an alternative activity will stimulate it and prevent it from being exhausted. Go for a walk, read a book for half an hour or watch something. Do an activity where your brain does not have to think about work, so when you go back it is ready to take on the task at hand.

Prevents diabetes

Studies have shown that dormant workers are more likely to develop diabetes than those who go on regular breaks. Lack of activity has been known to allow for a person’s blood sugar to rise, so going for a quick ten minute walk will prevent your blood sugar levels from unusual sugar spikes.  This can also be prevented by avoiding sugary foods and drinks. Take a bottle of water with you to work, or speak to your employer about installing a water cooler. It will give you an excuse to get up and walk over to it, giving you a bit of exercise as well as drinking something healthy.

Stress relief

If the job is particularly stressful, prolonged exposure to it can have some serious effects on your health. Symptoms from chronic stress include headaches, increase in blood pressure and heart disease. Stress can be a huge burden to people, so if this is the type of environment you work in, then it is important that you take a break from it. Or you should speak to your employer about it. There is a solution they can offer in situations such as these.

As we mentioned, a break can be from 15 minutes to half an hour. This isn’t the only type of break to take. Short breaks or holidays can be greatly beneficial, especially if you have been working for long periods of time. Weekends are nice, but they only consist of two days and are sometimes not enough to allow us to recharge out batteries.

Finally, taking regular breaks are important mentally, as well as physically. If you are sitting at the desk all day, you can start to develop problems with joints and muscles. Getting up and walking around for ten minutes will allow your muscles to relax and stretch them out a bit.
Following this brief guide should highlight the importance of taking regular breaks and show you what to do to help yourself.

About the author: Bill Turner is a free-lance landscaper and writer. He enjoys teaching, traveling, authorship, and of course walking his dogs along the beachside.

Image: Incisler, "Balance", CC BY-SA 3.0