At least a few seconds and no more than ten minutes: This is how long partial pauses last, which, according to a study, can have a positive effect on people’s well-being. The team led by Patricia Alpoliscu of the Romanian University of the West in Timiشوارoara (Timiشوارoara) writes in the online specialist journal PLOS ONE that short breaks can reduce fatigue and increase energy levels in daily work or study.
For the study, researchers evaluated 22 studies on this topic as part of a meta-analysis. The results showed that people felt more energetic and less tired after the small breaks. The analysis yielded no clear results about whether or not work was more productive after a break. However, the team reported that performance didn’t drop in the least.
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“These small breaks are not actually used for recovery, but to prevent excessive fatigue,” explained psychologist Friedhelm Naschreiner, president of the Society for Industrial, Economic and Organizational Psychology Research, who was not involved in the study. According to him, small breaks also have an effect on performance. So breaks should not be taken too late.
His criticism of the study: The authors evaluated very few studies and did not note the standard literature. He also complained that study participants rated their energy levels and fatigue themselves. “The authors do not clearly distinguish between fatigue and perceived fatigue,” says the work hours researcher.
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The study authors themselves explained that in addition to energy and fatigue, other mental states, such as anxiety or stress, should also be analyzed in the future. In addition, according to their own data, they could not answer perfectly when and how long the mini-break should be. According to Nachreiner, this generally cannot be fixed. “Some people don’t need a break so quickly, while others do it sooner and for longer,” the researcher explained at Work Time. “Five minutes to everyone – that would be nonsense, for example.”
According to the study’s authors, many employees still feel that breaks can be considered “reversible behaviour.” And for positive effects, they called on managers to actively encourage their employees to take small breaks in the future. Even in everyday college life, short breaks can help students recharge their batteries – for example in lectures or when studying at the computer.
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