Mental Health Awareness Week: The importance of taking a break

In the next of our series on Mental Health Awareness Week, we examine the importance of breaks; be that a lunch hour, a 10-minute stretch away from our desks or ensuring that we switch off for the weekend while we work from home.

The National Charity Partnership found from a survey of 1700 professionals that up to 70% take their lunch break at their desks. Working from home can exacerbate the amount of time we spend working due to the accessibility of emails and your laptop, which can quickly lead to burnout. We share the benefits of taking a break and what you can do to keep your mind and body active in your time out.

The benefits of taking a lunch hour

Although it might not always be possible - we get things are really busy right now! - you should aim to take full lunch breaks and encourage your team to do so where they can.

Taking a lunch break can help with both motivation to complete tasks and concentration. Nir Eyal shared on his blog that, “when we work, our prefrontal cortex makes every effort to help us execute our goals. But for a challenging task that requires our sustained attention, research shows briefly taking our minds off the goal can renew and strengthen motivation later on.”

The 50/10 model

If a lunch hour isn’t possible (or even if it is!), taking smaller, more regular breaks throughout the day is beneficial for your mental health. Why not try the 50/10 rule, where you work for 50 minutes, during which time you remain focused and eliminate as many distractions as you can? When those 50 minutes are up, you take a mandatory break for 10 minutes. The reason it works so effectively is that 50 minutes allows ample time to accomplish one or more tasks, and 10 minutes is sufficient time to recharge your internal energy.

If you find yourself burning out or losing focus more quickly than that, you can by taking smaller breaks when adapting the ‘Pomodoro Technique’, wherein you take 5 minutes’ break for every 25 working minutes completed. Setting yourself a clear time frame in which to can help you to tune out distractions and complete tasks, before giving yourself a small amount of time to recentre yourself.

Tips for taking your break

Here are some tips for spending your break time:

  1. Active breaks - In our previous post, we shared how walking is an effective way to boost your mood and improve your mental health, which is a great activity to take during your breaks. You could also try a quick yoga or pilates session to help refocus your mind.
  2. Give your screen the slip - Spending a lot of time looking at your computer screen can make you feel exhausted, so why look at your phone on your break too? When you’re on a break, leave your phone and computer in the same place and take your break elsewhere. Read a book, or even completing chores you’ve been putting off will refresh your mind and give you a sense of achievement.
  3. Mindfulness apps - The YuLife app rewards you with yucoin for completing daily mindfulness sessions that can be redeemed for vouchers from leading retailers and experience providers!

Join us for a daily YuBreak

YuLife has joined forces with personal trainer JC from Nutri-train to bring you daily ‘YuBreaks;’ quick sessions to get you up and stretching during your working day. Each day focuses on a new exercise, whether it’s head-to-toe mobility or stretches for your lower back.
Join us on our Facebook and Instagram pages for a live broadcast every weekday at midday!

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Sophie Hibbert

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