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Taking a break

Breaks allow you to pause and rest so that you can return to your task feeling refreshed. In addition to giving you a chance to rest, breaks can promote lower stress levels, clear thinking and increase productivity.

Breaks are just as important in the work day as sleep and food—you cannot function properly without them. You should take breaks on a regular basis in order to manage stress and prevent burnout. 

Types of breaks 

Meal breaks: employees who work 5 or more consecutive hours in Canada are entitled to a meal break. For more information on eating periods and breaks, visit Ontario's Employment Standards Act.

Microbreaks: these breaks can range from several seconds to minutes. Taking a moment to stop working provides an opportunity to mentally or physically relax and reset before jumping back into your work.

Break ideas

Ideas to make your breaks more enjoyable.

Learn more - Break ideas
  • Change your environment 
  • Connect with nature 
  • Do breathing exercises 
  • Drink water 
  • Get creative 
  • Get in a workout 
  • Go for a walk 
  • Have a lunch or healthy snack 
  • Make a coffee or tea
  • Meditate 
  • Take a short nap 

If you can't take a break, switch the task you are working on. By changing your focus your brain might feel some relief and when you return to the original task, you will experience some break-like benefits.

It's time for a break

Signs that it may be time to take a break.

Learn more - Its time for a break
  • Changes in mood or eating patterns
  • Feeling confused 
  • Feeling unfocused 
  • Frustration
  • Lack of energy 
  • Lack of motivation 
  • Low mood  
  • Making small mistakes 
  • Negative feelings toward the task you are working on
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches 
  • Withdrawing from coworkers

Take your breaks

Tips to ensure you take time for breaks.

Learn more - Take your breaks
  • Pay attention to the breaks you enjoy. This will encourage you to take your break in the future. 
  • Plan to do something you like on your break. This will help you stay motivated and ensure you take your break. 
  • Schedule a break with your coworkers and hold each other accountable to the time you agreed on. 
  • Set an alarm on your phone to remind you. 
  • Use post-it notes in your workspace to remind yourself the importance of taking breaks.

Physical and mental benefits of breaks

Breaks are important for your physical and mental wellbeing. Explore the benefits of taking breaks.

Learn more - Physical and mental benefits of breaks

  • Enhance your mood: using your break to do something you enjoy will help improve your mood. 
  • Increase productivity and creativity: taking breaks refreshes the mind and helps you become more productive and creative.
  • Increase social engagement: social breaks allow you to refreshed and feel part of a group.
  • Improve health and wellbeing: taking movement breaks can help reduce the health risks associated with sitting for long periods of time. 
  • Improve memory: taking breaks is scientifically proven to help consolidate memories and improve learning.
  • Reduce stress: breaks allow you to withdraw from the environment that is causing you stress and rest. 
  • Restore motivation and prevent decision fatigue: taking a break can help restore energy, increase your willpower and reasoning ability.
  • An opportunity to reassess: breaks give you a chance to slow down and evaluate the progress you have made, and assess new information.