Are you feeling guilty after been socialising with co-workers over a coffee for too long? No worries, micro-breaks are actually beneficial for job performance as well as employee well-being. In addition, the length of the break is associated with the productivity when you return to your job duties, and the longer breaks – the better, so to speak.
So, why is it like this? Well, internal (during work) and external (after work) recovery are essential in order to balance the job demands during the day. Simply explained, through recovery, the body and the brain will have the opportunity to mobilise for upcoming challenges. During the working day, it’s great to take micro-break for internal recovery. A micro break can involve a coffee in the staff room, talking a walk, stretching, or day dreaming.
Research has shown that micro-breaks can help reduce fatigue and increase energy levels, leading to improved well-being. They can also facilitate psychological detachment and relaxation, which can help reduce the impact of high job demands. Additionally, taking micro-breaks can also prevent the impairing effects of accumulated strain, leading to improved job performance. They can also be helpful to reload mental resources, leading to better cognitive performance. Which is of highly relevance for us Academians!
So, the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, remember to take a micro-break and engage in some internal recovery activities. Your well-being and job performance will thank you. So how do mine micro-breaks look like today? Well, mostly I daydream back to the splendid ‘Moulin Rouge! The Musical’, that I saw a couple of days ago.
In case you are interested to read more about micro-breaks the importance of recovery, here are some literature suggestions:
Albulescu, P., Macsinga, I., Rusu, A., Sulea, C., Bodnaru, A., & Tulbure, B. T. (2022). ‘Give me a break!’ A systematic review and meta-analysis on the efficacy of micro-breaks for increasing well-being and performance. PLoS ONE, 17(8 August). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0272460
Demerouti, E., Bakker, A. B., Geurts, S. A. E., & Taris, T. W. (2009). Daily recovery from work-related effort during non-work time. Research in Occupational Stress and Well Being, 7, 85–123. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-3555(2009)0000007006
Magdalena Ramstedt Stadin, PhD