Updated: Nov 10, 2021
Do you ever feel there is always so much to do with little time? You are not alone. We live in a fast-paced world that promotes the so-called hustle culture. We glamorize working all the time, wherein productivity is defined by being ‘busy’, a jam-packed schedule, and back-to-back meetings. We are conditioned that we should always be working to be described as successful. Unfortunately, our mental health can be negatively affected as a result. On the other hand, rest such as taking breaks can be perceived as some form of idleness. However, in reality, taking breaks is considered significant to optimize one’s mental health. Taking breaks is for the strong because of its psychological benefits. Here are the benefits that you might consider rethinking in your next break time.
1. Taking breaks improves memory
In the study of Immordino-Yang et al. (2012), they found out that the brain is not idle during breaks, because it is working hard to process memories, emotions, and experiences. Furthermore, their findings imply that when taking a break, the brain's default mode is triggered, and the brain becomes active in internally focused psychosocial mental processing.
As we live in such a fast-paced environment, taking breaks can allow us to better comprehend what is going on around us and have a better understanding of the outside world. Allowing our brains to reboot will, more significantly, let us obtain a fresh perspective in processing our emotions. Our mental health improves when we tackle life's problems more proactively and adaptively with improved emotion processing.
2. Taking breaks enables better decision-making
Breaks might help you avoid decision fatigue. Danzinger et al. (2011) found that after a break, positive rulings recover to around 65 percent in the case of Israeli judges. As a result, the next time you're having trouble making a decision, taking a break might help.
Regardless of your profession, decision fatigue is apparent. As a result, making decisions impulsively due to exhaustion can have severe consequences that affect our mental health. Such decisions, whether minor or major, might cause us to feel anxious, stressed, or overwhelmed. Thus, taking breaks allows us to rethink our decisions, actions, and behaviors in order to put ourselves in a better position. In hindsight, we all face decisions in our daily lives. We may make better judgments and live a more purposeful and happier life by taking breaks.
3. Taking breaks helps you concentrate better
Have you ever wondered why great ideas come to you in the shower? This is attributable to the fact that the brain is designed to focus when it is recharged, which occurs when you take a break. You can focus and gain clarity not only in your work but also in your headspace by taking breaks.
Ariga and Lleras (2011) discovered that taking occasional breaks helps people concentrate better and stay focused for longer periods of time. Hence, the better your concentration, the higher your job performance will be. The more effectively the deliverables are optimized, the better your work-life balance will be. Your mental health will improve if you can better balance your job and personal lives.
Furthermore, taking breaks provides a variety of psychological benefits that enhance not just one's mental health but also one's productivity. So, the next time you feel bad about taking a break, think about how it improves your memory, concentration, and decision-making. Taking breaks is for the strong, because of how impactful it is to mental health. Together, let us normalize taking breaks for our mental health.
Ariga, A., & Lleras, A. (2011). Brief and rare mental "breaks" keep you focused: deactivation and reactivation of task goals preempt vigilance decrements. Cognition, 118(3), 439–443. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2010.12.007
Danziger, S., Levav, J., & Avnaim-Pesso, L. (2011). Extraneous factors in judicial decisions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(17), 6889-6892.
Immordino-Yang, M. H., Christodoulou, J. A., & Singh, V. (2012). Rest Is Not Idleness. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7(4), 352–364. doi:10.1177/1745691612447308