Microbreaks in the Office Could Boost Productivity and Reduce Stress

It starts with mismanagement of work-life balance, and ends in burn out. Yes, we’re talking about work stress. And for good reason, too: 60% of us workers are stressed at least once a week. Sometimes it’s from a toxic work environment, sometimes it’s from compulsory fun, sometimes it’s mental health, sometimes it’s a lack of sleep.

So how do we stop it before it starts? We look at the workplace, and we look at our fatigue surrounding that. More so, we look at a new study that shows how beneficial microbreaks are to an individual — especially one who might be sleepier than the rest.

The study was published in the Journal of Applied Psychologyand according to Science Daily found that “microbreaks seem to help tired employees bounce back from their morning fatigue and engage with their work better over the course of the day”.

If you’re wondering what the definition of a microbreak is, assistant professor of psychology at North Carolina State University, Sophia Cho says (unsurprisingly), that they’re “short”, but that a “five-minute break can be golden if you take it at the right time”.

As for what constitutes a microbreak? It can be chatting with a colleague, stretching at your desk, having a snack (try an energy-boosting snack) or even working on a crossword puzzle.

Cho also went into the fact that the study shows “It is in a company’s best interest to give employees autonomy in terms of taking microbreaks when they are needed — it helps employees effectively manage their energy and engage in their work throughout the day.” Run and tell that to your manager.

This isn’t the first study to go into the importance of microbreaks, and how they can benefit us both workwise and mentally.

In fact, one from 2016 that looked specifically at surgeons found that microbreaks resulted in a significant reduction of discomfort in shoulders; distractions and flow impact was minimal. In fact, 87% of surgeons wanted to incorporate microbreaks with exercises into their OR routine, which could be a way to mitigate work-related musculoskeletal fatigue, pain and injury.

Another study conducted on surgeons (must be Grey’s Anatomy fans), from 2011 found that microbreaks reduced psychological stress.

Just remember that when it comes to microbreaks, they have to be short and they have to be voluntary. There are rules.

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