“Who has time for a break?”
When I’d overheard this statement, it made me sad. Sure, we often plough through breaks because of deadlines or because we are so absorbed in our work. But is that healthy? Apparently not.
There are also many people who believe that staying at your desk all day, working while you eat and basically martyring themselves into a early grave will somehow get them the promotion, or praise, they so crave. Don’t let this be you. It’s fleeting glory that will only end in resentment and bitterness when the raise doesn’t roll in. Or it might create job burnout, chronic stress and ongoing health issues.
According to a study at the University of Illinois, performance and functioning declines. “Even brief diversions from a task can dramatically improve one’s ability to focus on that task for prolonged periods.”
So why don’t we recognize this valuable statistic and do more?
Apparently because we’re doing it wrong. An article in the Huffington Post cites that the breaks we are taking are not really breaks at all but just diversions to another energy draining activity. Wow, we are certainly gluttons for punishment.
We need to take a break. A real break.
I took one today and enjoyed a walk around the building. I closed down my social media and instead, offered a few in-person “Hellos” and got some great ones back that lifted my spirits tremendously. I also got a lot of steps registered on my pedometer and felt refreshed when I went back to my workspace.
But taking a break from work also includes getting a good night’s rest.
A 2008 Sleep in America® poll found that 29 percent of people said they had fallen asleep or became very sleepy at work in the previous month, and 12 percent were late to work in the last month because of sleepiness.
If I asked you how you were, you’d probably respond “tired.” It’s been a busy year and you are doing way more than you probably should to stay engaged with family and work, but somehow can’t seem to say “No.” Regardless of the schedule you choose to pursue, rest is important. Studies have demonstrated that logging the same amount of sleep every night is healthier than four hours during the week and ten hours on the weekend.
The thing is we choose to say “yes” to everything and never, ever set boundaries. But rest is important and we can actually do more in the long run when we are on a well-rested schedule. You’ll find yourself engaged in more productivity sprints even through the afternoon, when energy tends to drain. Need better sleep? Start with baby steps:
- Turn off electronics at least an hour before bedtime and remove them from your bedside;
- Enjoy relaxing with family, music, reading or mindless television—nothing too stimulating;
- Set a time to go to bed a little earlier each night, say 15 minute increments and see how that works;
- Keep a notepad and pen (not phone) by your bed to jot thoughts that stir before you sleep or those that wake you up;
- Get plenty of fresh air, vitamin D and exercise, but stop vigorous activity at least an hour before bed.
Remember, if you’re well-rested, you’ll perform better, advance your career faster and be healthier and able to support those you love.
Imagine what it can do for you?