Take your breaks
Your health will thank you
We need breaks from work and they come in many different forms. Lunch breaks, afternoon breaks, weekends and even vacation time. I can’t stress enough the importance of taking your allotted breaks. Here are some interesting data from the 2016 Staples Advantage Workplace Index report and The American Institute of Stress:
43% of Canadians say they’re working longer hours simply to catch up on work they couldn’t tackle during an eight-hour day, with 22% working 11 hours or more per day. That workload is taking a toll. Consider:
- 68% of Canadians say their workplace has contributed to stress
- More than ¼ of Canadians (27%) cite the volume of their work as the #1 stressor in their workplace
- One in five Canadian respondents (19%) has taken a workplace stress-related leave of absence
Over 50% reported in a 2000 Integra Survey that they often spend 12-hour days on work related duties and an equal number frequently skip lunch because of the stress of job demands. Consider:
- 25% view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives
- 80% of workers feel stress on the job, nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress and 42% say their coworkers need such help
- The number of employees calling in sick because of stress tripled from 1996 to 2000. An estimated 1 million workers are absent every day due to stress
My husband and I are planners – it’s as simple as that. We plan our meals for the upcoming week so we know what to buy for groceries. We have a well laid out plan for retirement that we started in our early thirties (come on 55). And we plan for our vacations, up to 2 or 3 in advance, where we shut out work. No phones or work emails allowed. We use our time to unplug from the responsibilities of work, recharge, re-invest in personal relationships, do something fun and even try to collect an experience we will treasure.
While networking, I mentioned an upcoming vacation plan to a colleague who owns her own business and she wanted to know how I managed to find the time. I said it’s simple: if you don’t plan for it, it doesn’t happen. A few months later I ran into her again and she told me that I had inspired her and she, along with her husband, booked a vacation, turned off their phones/ emails and had a fantastic time. When they came back to work they felt recharged and were able to re-focus their new found energy on their business goals once again. They now book at least 2 vacations a year to recharge themselves and simply take a break.
I have read several studies that show taking regular breaks from mental tasks improves your creativity and that skipping breaks can lead to stress, exhaustion, and a creative block. The research shows that the brain gradually stops registering a sight, sound or feeling if that stimulus remains constant over time. This causes you to lose your focus and your performance on the task declines.
Taking breaks is simply good for you. They help with your overall health and wellbeing and should be considered a necessity. The next time you are considering working through that break or skipping that vacation ask yourself if a step away from work might give you more energy, inspire more creative ideas and improve your overall mental health and consider the long term benefits of that break.
Jackie Beynen is the Director of Talent Acquisition & Client Services at SRG, overseeing all of our offices in Southern Ontario. She spends much time analyzing our workforce trends and working closely with our Managers to best service our valued clients. She is actively involved in her community and enjoys traveling which she does several times a year.