The Power of the Pause: Why You Need a Break From Work

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Man looking burnt out at his desk at work Burnout is a serious problem for American workers. Not only can it affect your job productivity, but also your health.  So it is important to take a break–and to know when it’s time to take a break.

When you are feeling stressed, can’t focus on work, and you seem to be in a bad mood all the time–you’re ready for a break. Your body will even give you signs–headaches, upset stomach, tense shoulder and neck muscles.

“Taking a break is important for a number of reasons. Not only are you more likely to work smarter and produce better quality work in the short-term, but taking breaks—whether a lunch break or a vacation—also helps you avoid burnout in the long-term,” says life coach Hannah Braime, founder of BecomingWhoYouAre and author of From Coping to Thriving: How to Turn Self-care into a Way of Life. “We spend so much of our lives focusing on external tasks, activities, and deadlines; when we make time to take breaks, we have a chance to reconnect with ourselves, check in with how we feel, and stay in touch with what’s important to us.”

You don’t need to take a two-week vacation. Small breaks can do wonders as well. “Spend your break in an area of balance – make it physical, social, interesting, spiritual, etc. Get up and walk around. Ask co-workers about what matters in their life. Sit quietly and read something you love but haven’t had time for,” suggests life/career/business reinvention strategist Mary Lee Gannon, president, StartingOverNow.

Braime agrees. “Get up, move around, and get a change of scene—even if that means walking from your office into the next room. Start keeping a list of activities that nourish you and leave you feeling refreshed and recharged. And make time to fit those in during your day,” notes Braime. “The same goes for vacations: plan vacations that will give you what you need. For some people, a hiking holiday might provide the dose of refreshment and inspiration they need; for others, a beach vacation or spending time with friends might be time better spent.”

When deciding to take a longer period of time, consider how you want to spend your break. Leave your office and work organized, delegate what projects need to be taken care of to other workers. This way, you won’t stress out while you are away. “Determine what kind of break you should take. And what you do during that break is one of the great decisions we get as adults. It’s your choice. Your primary goal is giving yourself the space to detox, unwind, and find peace amid the craziness or even the monotony of your day,” says business coach Jennifer Martin, owner of Zest Business Consulting. “Whether you do something or nothing at all, this time out can help you put things back into perspective, recharge your engines and prepare you to be the best version of yourself when you return to work.”

Even if you are overwhelmed with work, make time for a break. “If you are a business owner and you are so busy that break or a vacation is nowhere in sight, the first thing to remember is–you always have choices.  To be the very best you can be for your customers, your staff, and the rest of the world, some time out may be exactly what you need,” Martin. “Make a commitment to go. Mark the dates out on your calendar and let nothing stand in your way (not even yourself).”

Just as you schedule a meeting, schedule “me” time at work–even if it’s just 15 minutes. And when it comes to  vacation, take it and don’t feel guilty–you deserve it. You will come back to work with renewed energy and be more productive–the power of the pause.