“Life is a race, and if you don’t run fast and leave everyone behind, you’ll fail miserably.” That is what we have been listening a lot since we were born. Be it a student, an employee, a parent or an artist; everyone wants to perfect their field and come out on top, which is a great thing to pursue! But, in lieu of giving their 200%, they forget to stop and take a breath.
Taking a break is not bad guys, and if you think that you are too busy to give yourself some time off, you are highly mistaken. Sometimes, it’s OK to relax a bit. To make my argument a bit more convincing, here are some scientific reasons for why you need to take a break every now and then.
1. Your brain can only focus for 90 to 120 minutes.
Our brain is not built for the extended focus we ask of it these days. You might feel really good when you are in the zone and the ideas are flowing in smoothly, but that doesn’t last forever. Research shows that our brain is programmed to work vigilantly all the time and detect several changes around to ensure our survival. Hence, it can only focus for 90-120 minutes before you need a break. If you try to concentrate on one thing for a long time, it ain’t gonna work!
2. Daydreaming increases positive emotions & creativity.
A study in the University of California showed that people who let their minds wander do 41% better on creative thinking tests than others. Einstein, Newton, and the Bronte sisters all lived much of their lives in their imaginations. Activity in our mind increases when our mind wanders. In the two parts of out brain (focused one and diffused one), the diffused mode needs equal optimization to increase productivity.
3. Choosing power naps over caffeine boosts your memory, cognitive skills, and energy level.
Research shows that while a 20-minute power nap is good for alertness and motor learning skills like typing and playing the piano, a 30-60-minute nap will enhance your memory and decision-making skills.
4. Sitting in one spot for more than 6 hours increases the risk of heart disease up to 64%.
You are human after all. It’s not just your brain which is getting exhausted, you body is wearing out too. A study shows that you shave off seven years of quality life, making yourself vulnerable to certain types of cancer and heart diseases if you sit at one place for a long time. So, take a walk, do some stretches, get up from that chair and move a bit.
Also, if you are always tired and physically exhausted, it will become harder to give up any kind of addiction you are trying to quit.
5. Cleaning mechanisms in the brain work better when we shut our brains down.
A study by the University of Rochester says that our brains work better when they are shut down for a while. Just like how garbage trucks take to the city streets during the pre-dawn hours because there’s less traffic, our brain’s cleaners also work best when there’s less going on.
6. Taking regular breaks from mental tasks improves your work quality.
A study in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign says that while skipping breaks can lead to stress and exhaustion, taking regular breaks will result in more productive and qualitative work.
7. Breaks do not disturb your concentration, they sustain it.
Taking a 15-20 minutes break is proven to sustain your concentration throughout the day. All the little errands and choices we need to make consistently as we work drain our mental assets. Enjoying a reprieve, or even different short breaks gives a chance to our brains to recover.
8. Spending time with friends and family exposes you to a quality experience.
Michigan State University says that the more time you spend together with friends and family, the better chance you have of sharing quality experiences. Have a social life. It is very important to nurture and develop relations to share your happiness and accomplishment with. The happier you are, the better results will be.
9. And sometimes, just for the heck of it.
You don’t need a fact backing you up every time you take a break. Sometimes, do it just because you feel like it.
So, take a break! 😉