In the fast-paced world that we live in today, making it a priority to take breaks during the work day is that much more important. A study was done with university students that required a test of sustained attention. One group received no break during the 45-minute task, while the other participants were allowed a 5 minute break and were randomly assigned to either sitting quietly, listening to music, watching a music video, choosing between the music or the video, or spending the break however they wished. Results suggest that no matter which type of break they were given, all students in the break groups performed better on the attention task than those who kept working through without a break.
From the research, it is clear that breaks are beneficial, but the ideal break and how to fit it into one’s day will differ for each person. Even though all of our work schedules are busy and it often feels like tasks are never ending, working through lunch or after hours does not seem to actually have long-term benefits (even if you feel you will get more work completed). Research suggests that not taking breaks has detrimental effects to our psychological health and satisfaction. Therefore, it is important to take the time to enjoy small breaks throughout the day, especially lunch, as work will always be waiting for you when you return.