The average UK worker takes just two breaks a day for a total of only 24 minutes – but nearly half feel guilty for taking any time out.
A study of 2,000 employees found more than six in 10 feel they don’t take enough breaks during the working day and one in 10 don’t take a single break – because they are under too much pressure or too busy to have more time away from their job. Another 46% feel ‘guilty’ if they down tools knowing they have a packed schedule ahead.
Many reasons were listed as the reason behind Brits unwillingness to step away from work, most popular (over 1/3) being a huge workload, closely followed by struggling to find the time between endless Zoom calls or meetings. The pressure to get everything done (27%), overflowing inboxes (25%) and a fear that their boss will think they are shirking work (24%) are also among the reasons for not taking more breaks.
Taking breaks is important- Here’s why:
Psychologist Dr Becky Spelman, who is working with Readly on its ‘A Space for Yourself’ initiative, said: “Taking a break can make a huge difference to our busy lives, whether that’s going for a walk, reading a magazine, or heading to the bathroom.
“People often worry that they will be seen as working less efficiently if they take breaks, but the reality is that we all need to take breaks, and that we work more efficiently, making fewer mistakes, and having a more productive outcome, when we take the time we need to unwind.”
The study backed Dr Spelman’s speculation finding that skipping breaks leaves workers feeling more tired, (47%), struggling to concentrate (40%) and irritable (37%). As a result, more than a quarter (28%) zone out of meetings while 24% often make mistakes at work.
“By failing to take breaks, conversely, we run the risk of becoming run down and inefficient at work. Regular breaks give us the opportunity we need to stretch our muscles, get some fresh air, and give our mind and body a chance to relax before returning to work.” Dr Spelman added.
So what happens when Brits do actually take a break?
The study found that the first break of the day is normally at 11.45am with reasons including wanting a computer screen break (47%), to keep hydrated (42%) and to move their body (40%). More than half of workers (57%) use their downtime to have a drink while 30% head out for a walk or run but 38% simply pop to the toilet during their break.
Since working from home, 28% admitted the number of breaks they take has decreased, despite 39% now working longer hours than they did before the pandemic.
The study, carried out via OnePoll, also found that it doesn’t end when work finishes either, as only 48% of workers feel they give themselves enough time to relax after a busy day.
Just over half stated that they don’t get enough time out for themselves with household chores often getting in the way. As a result, the average adult gets just 35 minutes a day of peace and quiet a day.
When they do finally take some time out, one in four head to their bedroom, with 75% watching TV, 27% reading a magazine or book and 17% reading online.
Readly – the all-you-can-read subscription service provides unlimited access to over 5,000 digital magazines and newspapers in one app. Research shows that people feel informed (60%), relaxed (44%), inspired (39%) and learnt something new (24%) after reading on the app.
Chris Crouchman, Head of Content at Readly added: “It’s important to find time to relax and unwind – whether it’s during the working day or in the evening once you have finished for the day. Reading digital magazines is a great source of relaxation, entertainment and inspiration”.
Top 10 ways to take a break
- Making a cup of coffee/tea
- Making lunch
- Popping to the bathroom
- Going for a walk/run
- Grab your favourite drink
- Hanging out the washing
- Preparing for dinner
- Reading a book or magazine
- Taking the dog out for a walk
- Running errands, such as going to the Post Office
Dr Spellman’s five tips for how to get the most from your breaktime
- Get some movement into your break- If you have time, a quick walk in the local park or around the block will elevate your heart rate.
- If you have a computer-based job, it is important to take a real break –That involves walking away from your computer for at least a few minutes.
- Choose an activity that inspires you and freshens your thinking. Read a digital travel magazine about your dream holiday, craft or interior design ideas, listen to your favourite music, learn a new hobby, bake or listen to an audio book, whatever it is, be inspired.
- Simple mindfulness techniques can help you unwind. Even just looking out the window, consciously emptying your mind of all the thoughts and concerns that are causing you stress, and focusing on something you can see outside can help you to destress and unwind so that you can return to work refreshed and ready for more.
- If you’re having one of those days, you need a little personal space- It’s perfectly fine to say so to your colleagues for some “alone time” to relax and clear your mind.
Readly, the all-you-can-read subscription service, provides access to over 5,000 digital magazines and newspapers for £7.99 a month. Diet Coke fans can get a 2 month free trial to the Readly service – with the offer available on promotional packs until 18 April 2021.