Take a Break

You decide to give it a rest with the intention of getting back to your task within a reasonable amount of time. But when you give it a rest, what part of your brain actually needs that break? For “think-work,” it’s the prefrontal cortex (PFC), the thinking part of your brain. When you are doing goal-oriented work that requires concentration, the PFC keeps you focused on your goals. The PFC is also responsible for logical thinking, executive functioning, and using willpower to override impulses. That’s a lot of responsibility—no wonder it needs a break!

Now you know that breaks can help you keep your goals in the spotlight. But research shows that there are numerous other benefits of downtime. Of course, as everyone knows, breaks can bring you fun, relaxation, conversation, and entertainment, but we’ll focus on evidence that links periods of rest with greater work productivity. Then we’ll reveal the best ideas for work breaks.

The benefits from taking timeouts are decreased stress and tension, deeper relaxation, and more energy. You’ll also think more clearly after a short break.

If you’ve been sitting for over an hour, get off your butt and take a brief stroll around the building — or better yet outside and take some deep breaths.