Ayushi Mathur is an aspiring polymath and a multi-passionate entrepreneur. She creates feel-good content around self-love, business mindset, self-improvement, and life goals to help people achieve their highest potential. She believes that our experiences and inner work is the blueprint of our subconscious programming. She also has a podcast with a global audience of more than 1000 listeners. Ayushi’s podcast ‘Note to Self’ helps people become their best selves through self-love, self-compassion, and continuous self-improvement.
Mental health and emotional well-being have become an increasingly talked about subject among the youth today. Paying attention to mental health as well as practicing a mindful routine to prevent problems are being adopted as habits by many people around the world. Yet somehow, it’s still okay to expect people to show up at work leaving their mental health outside the door.
There’s no one simple switch between struggling with a mental health issue and having good mental health. Hence, when employees as well as business owners continue to push themselves to work without taking proper measures to ensure emotional well-being, burnouts become inevitable. A burnout does more long term damage to your work and productivity than taking a short break to recharge yourself. Over the last few years, we have started glorifying and celebrating working long hours and feeling burnt out, especially right from an early age. What’s really happening is: We’re working harder, but not getting the results.
The key to productivity and business success is in taking mental health breaks. What actually gives companies a competitive advantage is: Creating a culture that lets employees take time away from work to care for themselves.
But what does a mental health break really mean?
A break can be as short as taking an hour off of all devices and practicing meditation or as long as taking a few days off of work to rejuvenate and address the problems you’re facing. A “break” is simply cessation of work to do something that helps you feel refreshed and recharged.
Here are 7 reasons why mental health breaks can actually help increase productivity at work:
- Breaks help you add a distance between yourself and stress
Experiencing stress at work is inevitable. When we have too much stress, it is impossible to produce quality work repeatedly. That’s why periodic breaks in between work can allow for a bit of decompression. If you work long hours, make sure you take short breaks often. You can practice breathing exercises, take a walk, read a few chapters from a book, or even get in touch with friends. Anything that reduces work stress will improve your productivity multiple fold over time.
- Breaks help with increasing creativity
Not taking a break from work can actually reduce your ability to be creative. Constant work can exhaust your brain’s cognitive capacity, preventing you from making creative decisions. Giving your brain time to rest and recuperate just as we allow our bodies to rest after a marathon or weight training session, will energise you for the next tasks ahead.
- Breaks reduce “decision fatigue” The need to make frequent decisions at work, throughout your day can take a toll on your reasoning ability as well as mental health. Working without breaks can lead to decision fatigue causing you to either procrastinate tasks or take simplistic decisions that are not great for your company. Taking breaks gives your brain the time to refresh between tasks, leading to better decisions and hence better productivity.
- Breaks provide a chance for you to refocus on your work
Emails, meetings, and little activities that appear to lead us nowhere eat up much too much of the time we have for actual work. A short pause in the workday allows you to resume your day with more energy and clarity. This way, you can make an effort to devote the next block of time to a critical assignment while vowing to avoid distractions.
- Breaks help you re-evaluate your goals Taking even 10-15 minutes off every few hours to reassess your targets for the day can make a big difference in how your work day goes. We often have multiple tasks that require our attention, so by taking stock of what you’ve already achieved and what you need to get done by the end of the day sets you up for success and fulfilment.
- Taking a break gives you time for other things
Breaks do not have to mean meditation or sitting still every time. You also have the option of engaging in a fun activity during your mental health break. Playing games, whether video games, board games, or sports, can help you perform better at work. Activities like these help to stimulate your brain and reduce the risk of stress related cognitive decline, in addition to improving your work performance. Aside from these, you have the option of sleeping and resting. Our brain activity does not stop while we sleep. Instead, as we begin to relax, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated. The parasympathetic nervous system, often known as the “rest and digest” mode, serves to reduce heart rate, blood pressure, and stress hormone, balancing stress from the sympathetic nervous system’s “fight or flight” reaction. This can prove to be incredible for your creative thinking process.
- Taking a mental health break also improves your physical health:
Working non-stop causes mental as well as physical stress on your body, which can be felt in your muscles, your jaw, your posture and your heart. As a result, headaches, stress in the neck and shoulders, tiredness, and poor sleep are just some of the symptoms that start manifesting. People feel less stressed when mental health days are properly implemented. Breaks ensure that you will be less affected by the bodily signs of excessive stress, eventually helping you stay productive long term.
With the advent of ‘work from home’ culture and unhindered digital connectivity, it has become difficult to draw a line between time that’s used for work and time that is meant only for a true break. We’re always thinking about work, even when we’re not actively at work. However, it’s important to remember that it is okay to take a break to support your mental health. Besides increased productivity, breaks at work can have other advantages, such as increased job satisfaction, less stress, and enhanced mental health. Let’s stop glorifying hustle and burnout, instead focus on holistic personal growth which is only possible through balance.