Workplace burnout has become increasingly common, especially during and after the pandemic. Burnout can cause physical and emotional exhaustion and in most cases, there’s a depletion in energy levels and productivity, alongside other health concerns.
But a recent study conducted by West University of Timisoara in Romania has found that taking 10 minute ‘micro-breaks’ throughout the work day could be the solution to preventing burnout, while also keeping you healthy and focused.
The study, which was recently published in the PLOS ONE journal, saw researchers examine the efficiency and effect of micro-breaks on over 2,000 individuals, based on a review of 22 previously published studies from the past 30 years.
So, what is a micro-break? The researchers defined a micro-break as lasting for 10 minutes or less. This amount of break time is extremely significant, as the study found that “the longer the break, the better the performance”. The individuals within the study were also made to test out different activities during their breaks, including taking walks, chatting with colleagues and watching videos.
Overall, the results from the study revealed that micro-breaks are efficient in increasing energy levels and decreasing fatigue. It also found that micro-breaks can boost performance when it comes to repetitive or creative tasks or jobs, and ignoring signs of tiredness and ‘powering through’ the day can lead to more mistakes.
The benefits of micro-breaks
If you struggle to focus at work if you’ve been sitting at your desk for a while or you’re starting to feel tired or run down, a 10 minute micro-break could be exactly what you need to refresh and prevent burnout down the line.
The main benefit of a micro-break is concentration. We’ve all been there where we’ve stared at a document for hours and thought our eyes were going to explode. After a while, you lose focus so getting up and away from your computer for a 10 minute period can help you clear your mind, re-energise and return with more focus.
If you’re a lover of organisation, having regular micro-break intervals is also a great way to break up your day and organise what tasks you tackle when. This can help you get more work done and improve your efficiency.
While the study reported that 10 minutes was the upper limit people should take for a micro-break, reports also showed that “27 second micro-breaks can reduce fatigue, increase performance, and optimise energy expenditure”, according to Healthline.
So, how should you fill these micro-breaks? We came up with a few ideas of what to do in your micro-breaks to leave you feeling refreshed and focused.
The best activities to do in your micro-break
The number one thing that experts recommend and the individuals in the study found to be the most effective is movement. Getting up from your desk, walking and stretching all get the blood flowing and give your body a break from sitting down all day.
Other activities that can improve your overall wellbeing during your micro-break is practising meditation, reading a book, listening to music or chatting with your work friends. Unfortunately for the social media addicts out there, having a quick phone scroll isn’t massively beneficial as you’re still participating in screen time and straining your eyes.
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