Who here is a fan of Super Bowl halftime? ?
Even if you aren’t a fan of the boppy pop tunes or the pause in the gameday thrill, don’t we all appreciate the time to rave about the game or take a BR break (that’s longer than a commercial break)? It’s a nice reset from the sports action and constant commercials.
I like to think of workday breaks the same way. Whether it’s going for a walk or chatting with a coworker, breaks offer a switch between mindsets. Like an athlete gets halftime, a desk worker gets a lunch break. You wouldn’t run an athlete to extreme exhaustion. Why would it be okay to do to your brain?
⚠ WARNING ⚠ : This information is powerful stuff. In the wrong hands, it can perpetuate laziness. That’s not the goal. We’re looking at the workaholics and 9-to-whenever-ers that are glued to the desk chair and think breaks are irrelevant and disruptive. We’re ready to challenge that view. Get ready for scientific research peppered with personal proof.
A Charger… but for Your Brain
If you leave your phone out in the sun, it overheats and starts getting slower, and eventually powers off. But, if you bring your phone inside and let it sit, it recovers to its former glory. Your brain works in a similar way.
According to Ferris Jabr from Scientific American, “Downtime replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life.” (scientificamerican.com).
Jam-packing your day full of mental stimulation gives your brain no time to comprehend the information being hurled its way.
Personal Proof ?
While bouncing around between clubs, internships, and a full course load in college, a friend gave me advice that has rattled in my head for years.
No matter how busy you think you are, there is almost always time for a 10-minute break.
When your head is spinning, it’s hard to evaluate what is immediate and what can wait. You’d be surprised how much can safely and successfully be placed on the backburner as you switch mindsets. Taking a shower. Going for a walk. Doing simple stretches. They can be as refreshing as a dive into a pool on a hot day.
The Benefits of Movement
That’s the sound of your knees and hips after getting up from sitting for too long. Let’s not even talk about the stiffness that comes with it. For avoidance of this unpleasant occurrence, movement should be a key aspect of your workday.
You’ve definitely heard of the “movement is medicine” push. Well, there are a lot of proponents that say it’s not just a load of gumbo. Many studies compiled in this Psychology Today article back us up, especially numbers 4, 5, 6, and 9 (Selig, psychologytoday.com).
Personal Proof ?
You might not have time for a full Zumba class during the workday, but that doesn’t mean you have to glue yourself to a chair.
Personally, the standing desk has been a bright solution to keep moving during the day. My attitude improved greatly when I was allowed space to stand and fidget.
If a standing desk is not within reach or your cuppa tea, we urge you to get up from sitting and take a walk. No one likes muscle tightness… and who knows? Maybe you’ll be refreshed after a 5-minute walk!
When you overwork yourself, your brain starts wilting like an under-watered plant. And we all know… weariness has been known to affect people’s decision-making.
Although not fully accepted in the health world, there have been some studies that show “that a human’s ability to make decisions can get worse after making many decisions, as their brain will be more fatigued” (Johnson, medicalnewstoday.com).
Personal Proof ?
You know that saying that nothing good happens after 2 am? You know why that is?
While making decisions on a brain that’s been wired for almost 24 hours may be fun at the time, there may be some tinges of regret later. If you’ve been focused at a desk for 7 hours straight, your brain is exhausted. Just think about how much sharper you could be after a mental reset. Save yourself the drama of making easily avoidable mistakes.
Leisure time has been known to put people at ease, but there are benefits to your wellbeing, too.
Psychology Today’s Lynn Zubernis, PH.D. writes:
“Living through a pandemic reduced people’s sense of control, research has found, leading to greater feelings of helplessness and depression. Engaging in a leisure activity just for the pleasure of it can be a powerful antidote, as research finds that people who engage in such activities report greater satisfaction with their lives overall” (56-57).
Personal Proof ?
The world flipped upside down in the past few years.Through it all, we’ve uncovered new hope for the workplace. The Great Resignation has taught us that workers have a say in their work. If wellbeing isn’t on the list of company priorities, you can scooch your booch outta there or advocate for certain changes to be made. If you work from home, you often have more access to this than other on-site workers. Go play with your pet in between meetings. Go outside for some fresh air during lunch. Do your brain right with a break, so you can enjoy and thrive at work.
Wrapping It Up
Your time is precious. If you’re not enjoying yourself and are thoroughly exhausted, breaktime is necessary. As we’ve learned, focusing intently for long periods of time is weary on you and your body.
Let’s show a little compassion for our brains. Take a break if you need it. Then, come back to work kickin’!
Jabr, Ferris. “Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime.” Scientific American, Scientific American, 15 Oct. 2013, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/mental-downtime/.
Johnson , Jon. “Decision Fatigue: Effects, Causes, Signs, and How to Combat it2.” Edited by Marney A White, Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 6 July 2020, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/decision-fatigue?c=919204411480.
Selig, Meg. “Is It True That ‘Movement Is Medicine’?” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 30 Mar. 2017, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/changepower/201703/is-it-true-movement-is-medicine.
Zubernis, Lynn. “A Break Is Never A Waste Of Time.” Psychology Today, vol. 55, no. 1, Jan. 2022, pp. 56–57. EBSCOhost, discovery.ebsco.com/linkprocessor/plink?id=de37b6cb-1b09-301c-9d6a-5ebebad3e774.