Jeremy Bradley-Silverio Donato, COO at Zama.
Amid the fast pace and unforgiving nature of today’s work landscape, it’s all too common to succumb to the lure of burning midnight oil and sacrificing our personal lives. Nevertheless, compelling research indicates that breaking this cycle can do wonders for our mental health welfareproductivity levels and overall sense of accomplishment.
Short breaks for victory
Taking breaks can help us avoid them burnout, which is “a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repetitive stress.” Burnout can contribute to decrease job satisfaction, poor performance and even physical and mental health problems. By taking time off from work, we can give ourselves a chance to rest, recharge, and regain our energy and focus.
In addition, taking breaks can promote creativity and innovation. When we are stuck in a routine, it can be difficult to come up with new ideas and solutions. However, when we take time out from work and engage in other activities, we expose ourselves to new experiences and perspectives that can spark our creativity. For example, pursuing a hobby, traveling to a new destination, or attending a cultural event can give us new insights that we can take back to work.
Taking breaks can also help us take a broader view of life. If we focus solely on work, we can lose sight of the bigger picture and become myopic in our thinking. By participating in different activities and spending time with different people, we can broaden our worldview and gain a better understanding of ourselves and others.
In addition, taking a break can help us develop new skills and knowledge. For example, when we take a cooking class or learn a new language, we build skills that can be applied to other areas of life, including work. In addition, we can expand our network and potentially create new opportunities for personal and professional growth.
Long breaks for the weary
But what if a few days or weeks of rest is not enough? As someone who was once caught in the relentless cycle of working without taking breaks, I can attest to the transformative power of stepping out of the daily grind for a longer period of time.
A few years ago I found myself overwhelmed and mentally exhausted, constantly chasing deadlines and sacrificing my personal life for the sake of work. I reached a tipping point where I realized my productivity and overall well-being were suffering. I made the decision to take a step back from my full-time job and devote time to developing a passion I had always had for writing.
In the space of two years I have written and published two short novels. Not that writing isn’t work, but doing it “for fun” without the pressures of the typical corporate environment allowed me to broaden my horizons in ways I’d only dreamed of before.
Distancing myself from work allowed me to regain my balance and rediscover aspects of myself that had been overshadowed by work-related responsibilities. I noticed an increase in my creativity and problem solving skills as my mind was allowed to wander and explore new avenues. Plus, connecting to something I was passionate about in meaningful conversations with loved ones fueled my sense of accomplishment and strengthened my relationships.
When I returned to work, I felt a renewed sense of purpose and motivation. The break had given me the opportunity to reflect on my goals, assess my priorities, and realign my focus. I approached my work with a fresh mindset, finding innovative solutions and implementing more efficient strategies.
I know not everyone is in the financial position to break so hard from a regular job, but the time I invested in myself eventually paid off in increased productivity and improved overall performance.
Since that transformative experience, I have continued to prioritize taking regular breaks from work. Whether it’s making time every day for a walk, drinking coffee with colleagues or planning a periodic vacation, I’ve seen firsthand the positive impact it has had on my well-being and growth. It is clear to me that taking a break is not a luxury, but an essential part of a well-rounded and successful life.
Invest in yourself
Taking a break from work is not a sign of weakness or laziness, but rather a strategic move to boost your personal and professional growth. Giving ourselves the time and space to recharge, refocus, and engage in different activities can help us become more effective, creative, and productive when we return to work. In addition, we gain new skills, insights and perspectives that can have a positive impact on our lives.
So if you’re wondering if you even have the time to take a break, I encourage you to consider the long-term benefits. Start by building small breaks into your routine and gradually build into longer periods of rejuvenation.
Connect with colleagues or friends during breaks to add a social element to your free time. Striking up meaningful conversations or sharing a laughable moment can lift your mood and provide a refreshing break from work-related tasks.
If you’re starting to feel burnt out or think you might need a longer break, explore different activities that bring joy and rejuvenation. You can define work-life boundaries by defining specific break times and communicating them to colleagues for uninterrupted personal time.
In addition to incorporating short breaks into your daily routine, plan and schedule longer breaks periodically. This could mean going on vacation, planning a staycation, or participating in a longer-term personal project. If someone had told me I could do this – and not feel guilty about it – I would have saved precious time in discovering what I really wanted to do with my career. That’s the key: understanding how your personal preferences and passions intersect with your professional aspirations.
You’ll be amazed at how intentional breaks can re-energize your mind, boost your creativity, and ultimately make you more productive when you get back to work. Remember that investing in yourself is an investment in your future success.