It turns out, taking a break during the work day might actually make you more productive.
May 11, 2017
Taking a break during the work day is important but how often do we actually make the time to do it? For most, an eight hour workday just doesn’t seem like enough and we end up sacrificing moments of peace to make room for more moments of productivity, but according to a new study, skipping that lunch break could actually be hurting your performance.
As counterintuitive as it may seem, taking time away from work to enjoy a short walk or a few minutes of mindful meditation throughout the day can actually have positive effects on your end of day concentration and help you feel less fatigued after you’ve punched out.
Scientists tasked workers in intellectually demanding fields – think education, engineering and finance – with taking a short 15 minute stroll or doing 15 minutes of mindful meditation during their lunch breaks every day for two weeks. The participants were asked to report how they were feeling near the end of the day during, before and after the study. They also filled out a short questionnaire every night, asking how much they enjoyed their lunch break, and if they were able to detach from work during it or not.
The results: those who took a break to walk or mindfully relax were significantly less stressed and able to perform better at the end of the work day than those who took regular lunch breaks or no breaks at all. Mindful relaxation in particular helped people feel less anxious and overwhelmed at the end of the day.
According to the study, walks in nature can lead to “attention restoration”—recovery from cognitive overload after intense focus – and mindful relaxation can increase our positive emotions, relieve stress, and boost focus.
So the next time you think you should skip your lunch break to get that big project done, take a breath and consider giving yourself a moment of peace. It might just make you a more productive employee.