Take a Break: The Secret to a Healthy and Productive Work Life

Why (and how) you should take a break, according to science.
A man in a business suit takes a walk in the park

We’ve all been there. A deadline is looming and you do whatever it takes to get the job done. Whether that means sitting at your desk for hours or skipping lunch, everything else takes a back seat. But research shows that this single-minded commitment to work actually makes you less productive – and less healthy.

Our bodies have a limited supply of energy and when these reserves start to dwindle, we feel tired, stressed and anxious. According to numerous studies, trying to power through a task in this state actually hurts efficiency and performance. It can even trigger a destructive cycle of diminishing returns; More and more effort is required and the quality of work gets can suffer too. All of this can take a toll on your mental and physical health.

Humans are generally built to work in bursts of no more than 90 minutes. If your job involves sitting at a desk, getting up and moving every hour or so is especially important to protect your muscles, circulation and posture. Even a few minutes of rest helps to restore focus, boost creativity and improve learning.

Scientists have also investigated the optimal ways to take a break, and have made some fascinating findings. A common theme from these studies is the importance of disengaging completely from your work. Creating physical and mental distance from your job allows you to recharge the parts of your brain that are highly active during the work task. Experts recommend leaving your phone or anything else that could disrupt your break. Research shows that one of the best ways to rejuvenate your body and mind is taking a walk outside. If there’s green space or a park nearby, even better! So, get out there and smell the roses! Your body and mind (and your boss!) will thank you.

A man in a business suit takes a walk in the park