Take a Break!

By Reyna Fisher, M.A.  

Do you feel drained, anxious, tired, irritable, or simply miserable? Do you feel like your workday never has enough hours in it? Are you starting not to care anymore? You may be burnt out, and it is probably time for you to start taking more breaks.

Burnout is the feeling of being emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted. Burnout can be detrimental to you, the workplace, and your relationships; however, it is preventable. A break is a time during the day where you stop doing work tasks and shift your attention to something non-work-related. 

Burnout is harmful to the employer and employee. It may arise from working long hours, having unclear job expectations, lack of resources or support at work, poor job fit or work-life balance, or unhealthy work environment and team culture. You may feel numbness about your tasks, dread going into work, and begin doubting your capabilities. Anger, forgetfulness, cynicism, hopelessness, and less enjoyment in life are common feelings associated with burnout. Typically, these feelings do not stay at work but overflow into personal relationships instead. Burnout can lead to higher employee turnover and lower productivity, creativity, and interest in work. Burnout also has health risks for the individual. It can increase the chance of gastrointestinal problems (possibly from heightened stress), insomnia, fatigue, substance misuse, anxiety, depression, stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, infections, high cholesterol, phobias, nightmares, and Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI). It is beneficial to the employee and employer to utilize their resources to prevent burnout.  

Research indicates that taking breaks at work is beneficial in preventing burnout and increasing productivity. A break may allow you to rest and recover the energy needed to continue working and regain focus. The break can be long or short and is a time for resting the brain, body, and/or emotions. What you do on the break does not matter as long as you are detaching from work. It is essential to pay attention to your body to notice when you need a break.   

Breaks can be anything from going for a walk to napping to grabbing a cup of coffee or surfing the web. It is crucial to monitor your own body and take a break before your energy is depleted. During breaks, you can utilize relaxation strategies (e.g., breathing, meditation, reading, getting fresh air, drinking water, debriefing with an encouraging coworker) to help you recover. Taking breaks is not the only way to prevent burnout. You can utilize multiple resources (e.g., encouragement, gratitude, task delegation, avoiding overtime, time management, team building activities, good quality sleep, physical and emotional detachment from work, exercise, social support, healthy diet) on- and off-the-clock to help prevent burnout. Both on- and off-job recovery are essential for health, job performance, and creativity. 

If you’re feeling irritable, stressed, or overwhelmed, try taking a break! Below is a list of ideas for what to do on your break. Check it out! Download the PDF to save for later.


  1. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/burnout-prevention-and-recovery.htm#:~:text=Burnout%20is%20a%20state%20of,unable%20to%20meet%20constant%20demands

  2. https://www.verywellmind.com/stress-and-burnout-symptoms-and-causes-3144516

  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/burnout/art-20046642


Bosch, C., & Sonnentag, S. (2019). Should I take a break? A daily reconstruction study on predicting micro-breaks at work. International Journal of Stress Management, 26(4), 378.

Da HiLLs, L. (2018). Understanding and preventing employee burnout.

de Jonge, J., Spoor, E., Sonnentag, S., Dormann, C., & van den Tooren, M. (2012). “Take a break?!” Off-job recovery, job demands, and job resources as predictors of health, active learning, and creativity. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 21(3), 321-348.

Gaeta T. J. (2020). Need for a holistic approach to reducing burnout and promoting well-being. Journal of the American College of Emergency Physicians open, 1(5), 1050–1051. https://doi.org/10.1002/emp2.12111

Kühnel, J., Zacher, H., De Bloom, J., & Bledow, R. (2017). Take a break! Benefits of sleep and short breaks for daily work engagement. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 26(4), 481-491.

Sen, S., Rachuri, K. K., Mukherji, A., & Misra, A. (2016). Did you take a break today? Detecting playing foosball using your smartwatch. In 2016 IEEE international conference on pervasive computing and communication workshops (PerCom Workshops) (pp. 1-6). IEEE.

Silvervarg, A., Haake, M., & Gulz, A. (2018, June). Perseverance Is crucial for learning.“OK! but Can I take a break?”. In International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Education (pp. 532-544). Springer, Cham.


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