Take Breaks That Don’t Use The Same Skills As Your Work For Better Relaxation

When your work day is finished, you log out of your computer, drive home and relax. If you then fire up another computer and sit in front of it playing games, it might not be as relaxing as it could be.

Photo by Elvert Barnes.

As productivity site 99u explains, if you’re using the same mental activities to relax as you do to work, your brain isn’t really getting a rest. You might spend all day reading text on a screen at work and then try to relax by reading news sites or an ereader at home. You might like one of these activities more, but for your brain it’s still pretty much the same. To really relax, it’s better to find something that doesn’t resemble the work you do:

As you’d expect, feeling that work demands were more intense around lunch time went hand in hand with feeling more end-of-day fatigue. Crucially, the right kind of break provided a protective buffer against this link between work demands and fatigue. Which kind of break was this? Only relaxation and social break activities had any benefit. Cognitive activities during work breaks actually made fatigue worse, likely because reading websites or checking emails taxes many of the same mental processes that we use when we’re working.

Of course, this is sometimes a hard thing to accomplish when your typical relaxation activities like video games can use the same devices as the ones you work on. However, you can still tweak your routine by moving your gaming to the living room or use a device like a Kindle to read instead of your phone. Even little differences can make a huge impact on your brain’s relaxation time.

A Science-Backed Guide to Taking Truly Restful Breaks [99u]

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