How to take a real break

Taking a break can be so easy. If we believe the content of various commercials or lifestyle magazines, a cup of tea is enough to really relax your body and mind. However, the reality is different: the stress level is too high, too many appointments are crowded together, the expectations that we believe we have to live up to are too high. Contrary to social demands, people’s ability to concentrate is not designed for long-term use, and their bodies tire after a certain time. But when did the time come for an interruption? And how do we take a break properly and effectively?

Anti-pause: Life in a performance society


We live more than ever in a performance society that does not or only marginally tolerate periods of rest. Hardly a trace of mindfulness and self-actualization. At the professional level in particular, the expectations that we are exposed to as part of a success and performance-oriented society seem to be revealed to us: breaks are increasingly seen as something negative and associated with laziness or even weakness. But those who do not take breaks show work, perseverance, willingness to perform – in other words, those who work through the night have the best chances of being promoted in the end. According to a study by the Federal Institute and Federal Protection for Occupational Medicine, almost a quarter of German employees occasionally miss their breaks. A third of the respondents stated that the workload was too high as the reason for the overtime.

The art of resting is part of the art of working.

John Steinbeck

However, repeated overtime is neither productive nor healthy in the long run: the human brain is not designed to be permanently stressed. The eyes become heavy, the ability to concentrate deteriorates, errors occur. Doctors therefore recommend a small break of a few minutes every 60 to 90 minutes to give your body and mind a break. The advice applies especially to everyone who spends the majority of their working day in front of the computer.

Why are breaks so important?



At the first signs of fatigue, the breath becomes shallower, the pulse accelerates and the concentration decreases. Nevertheless, the subjective feeling of fatigue can be deceptive: Especially those who are highly motivated to work on a task often have no need for a break, even though the body is already overworked. Many people therefore only notice their exhaustion when the right time for a break has long passed. Fatigue increases the faster the longer you continue working – the beginning of a downward spiral. A short break not only helps to keep a clear head, but also provides new energy and motivation to successfully solve the tasks at hand and to be efficient the next day.

6 advantages of breaks


  • avoiding and sustainably reducing stress
  • maintaining the ability to concentrate
  • boosting productivity
  • lowering the error rate
  • more serenity and fun at work
  • more motivation and energy

Use breaks effectively


In addition to the right time, the intensity and duration of the break also affects the recovery effect for the body. Long breaks are usually not as effective as several short breaks – provided that the break was caused by you. Those who force breaks often only feel more stressed and angry. The relaxing effect is greatest in the first minute of the time-out, so it should be used sensibly. Usually it is enough to get up briefly, stretch, open the window and take a deep breath. Even going to the coffee machine or a short small talk with colleagues brings a little variety for body and mind and has a positive effect on well-being – and the working atmosphere. A phone call or processing the filing can also interrupt the usual work process and provide the necessary variety. So breaks do not always have to be equated with doing nothing – to the delight of the performance society.

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