Breaks: Good for health, safety and performance

Relaxing breaks are important for your health and performance (Photo: BGW / Werner Bartsch)

When you keep working for hours and use your lunchtime only to get something done quickly, you are not doing anything good for yourself. Relaxing breaks are not only important for your health, they also preserve your productivity. In addition, they contribute to your safety at work and on the way home. In addition to the statutory larger breaks, we recommend short breaks in between as well as more variety in your daily work routine.

Effective up to happy hour

Continuous strain and concentration will fatigue your body and mind over time. Errors will occur more often, your work results will be worse, and the risk of accidents increases. "If you don't take enough breaks during the day, you will bring your problems into the evening," explains Dr. Heike Schambortski, prevention expert at the BGW. "When tired and exhausted, you are also particularly at risk on the way home. This concerns both tripping and falling as well as risks on the road."

Mandatory rest periods

Not without reason, the law demands a certain minimum of rest periods for workers. According to the Working Time Act, employees who work longer than six hours have to take at least a 30-minute break. With more than nine hours, the prescribed pause time increases to 45 minutes. The time-outs can be divided into sections of at least 15 minutes each. The first rest is due at latest after six hours of work.

Insert short breaks if possible

"As an addition to mandatory breaks, regular short breaks help to maintain a high performance throughout the work day," adds Dr. Schambortski. The industrial psychologist recommends companies to allow appropriate short breaks in between. She also advises to make the job as varied as possible - for example, by alternating more difficult and easy tasks.

Making breaks recreative

The recreational value of a break is highly dependent on how it is designed. The best is always a conscious counterbalance to your professional activity. "If you work hard physically, you should focus on resting in your breaks," Dr. Schambortski says. "But if you are clamped in mental stress, you might rather need a walk in fresh air." According to the expert, the best way to switch off is quite different individually. "A small change of scene helps many people", she adds. "And most important: The break needs to be a real time out and should not be interrupted by work-related disturbance."