The instinct in American businesses is, if you want to rise to the top, you need to work longer and harder than everyone else. And it’s certainly true that hard work and dedication are essential components of achieving any goal. But all of that hard work needs to be balanced with rest. Taking time off from work is often seen as a lavish luxury, but it should be seen as an essential component of a successful career. Here are just some of the many benefits of taking well-earned breaks.
Working too hard for too long doesn’t help you work better, it actually makes you less productive. Your mind needs regular opportunities to recharge and recuperate. If you go, go, go all the time, the stress will mount, your physical health will suffer, and your mind will function less effectively as a result. We have weekends for a reason – make sure you use them to enjoy life away from work. You should also feel empowered to take the occasional mental health day when you need it. Doing so can help you take a step back and remember what it is you’re working for.
Likewise, you should take occasional breaks to let your mind reset during the workday. One study out of Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business found that people who take short, frequent breaks during the workday doing something that they enjoy, like getting a cup of coffee or chatting with co-workers, have more stamina and fewer aches and pains when they return to their work. Such employees report higher job satisfaction, less emotional exhaustion, and a great willingness to go above and beyond in their jobs.
Rest and productivity are closely linked. When you have a chance to rest your mind and body, you come back to work with greater energy and enthusiasm. An occasional break is also a great way to rebuild your creative faculties and come up with new ideas that might be impossible to grasp while pushing through the everyday grind.
Perhaps most importantly, rest from work helps us live fuller lives. For most of us, love of our jobs isn’t enough to sustain us. We need friends and relationships and interests outside of work. When we can make time for ourselves, it’s easier to put work-life in perspective and stop stressing about little things that really don’t need to be stressed about.