Why You Should Always Take Breaks During A Work Shift

We're entering year three of the COVID-19 pandemic and many of us have become accustomed to working from home. According to a survey by Harvard Business School, 81% of remote working professionals don't want to go back to office or would like a hybrid model. It's hard not to see why. People are avoiding long commutes, you can attend meetings in sweats, and lunch is whenever you want it to be.

However, the boundaries between work and home life can become blurred. For some, work days are getting longer and the lack of clear boundaries is leading to a burnout epidemic within the household, one survey showed (via CNBC). Going back to the workplace doesn't seem to be a viable solution either — as you only get one lunch break. Even before the pandemic, some studies have shown that people often don't take a lunch break at all, per Forbes, leading to lower levels of productivity and higher levels of stress. 

Some may choose to skip their lunch break to prove their career dedication. Although, making sure to take breaks during your work shift is actually quite important. 

Work breaks can help you deal with stress

Our energy is limited, and if you're pushing yourself to focus when you don't have the energy to, you may begin feeling the effects in different ways. Mentally, you could feel unproductive, stressed out, and overworked. Physically, especially if you're someone who sits at a desk for long periods of time, your muscles and joints can feel fatigued and lead to potential injuries (via Stanford University). "Taking regular breaks helps us to be more resilient when stressors arise, and they function as an intervention to help us deal with the daily grind," Charlotte Fritz, PhD, an associate professor in industrial/organizational psychology told the American Psychological Association.

Laura Pendergrass, an industrial psychologist who advises Fortune 500 companies, spoke to CNBC about how we could schedule breaks at home. "Experiment with different types of breaks to stimulate your brain," she commented, while also suggesting that workers should perhaps note down activities that boost their mood. "Even 20 minutes to go on a walk, watch a new TV show or read a chapter in a book can help with energy and focus," she added.

At the office, in addition to the lunch break, you could also take micro-breaks to revive yourself throughout the day. These breaks don't last longer than a few minutes — you could choose to stretch, meditate, or watch a short video, for example. The point is to not think about work and move away from work, tackling physical and mental fatigue at the same time, according to researchers who spoke to BBC.