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The Power of Breaks: Why Taking Time Off Makes You a STEM Rockstar

Hey there, ambitious STEM goddesses! Ever felt like you're constantly running on fumes, powering through that never-ending to-do list? You're not alone. The pressure to constantly be "on" is a real thing, especially in demanding fields like science, technology, engineering, and math. But here's the secret weapon most successful women in STEM are wielding: the power of breaks.


Yes, breaks. Those glorious moments where you step away from the keyboard and gasp, do something else entirely. But breaks aren't just about avoiding burnout (although that's a pretty darn good reason). Give it a thought.


Recharge brain to spark creativity and productivity

You wouldn't expect your phone to function flawlessly without ever being recharged, would you? The same goes for your amazing brain. Breaks, aka brain power banks, are actually scientifically proven to make you sharper, more creative, and even more productive.


Science Says Breaks Rock

A study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition [1] found that taking short breaks during focused work improved participants' ability to retain information. Think about it - your brain is a muscle, and just like any other muscle, it needs rest to perform at its peak.


Here's the Breakdown: The Benefits of Taking Breaks

  • Enhanced Focus: Short breaks throughout the day can help you refocus and return to work with renewed energy.

  • Boosted Creativity: Stepping away from the problem allows your subconscious to work its magic. You might just come back with that brilliant solution you were searching for.

  • Improved Decision-Making: Decision fatigue is a real phenomenon. Taking breaks helps you avoid making rash choices based on mental exhaustion.

  • Reduced Stress: Feeling overwhelmed? A well-timed break can do wonders for your mental well-being.

The Power of the Power Down: Why Vacations Matter

Now, let's talk about the big kahuna of breaks - vacations. While that weekend getaway might seem like a luxury, it's actually an investment in your career. A study by the Society for Human Resource Management [2] found that employees who take all their vacation days report higher levels of job satisfaction and well-being.

Think about it this way: a truly rejuvenating vacation allows you to return to work feeling recharged and ready to tackle new challenges. You'll be more motivated, more focused, and more likely to bring fresh ideas to the table.

Strategies for Breaktime Bliss: Integrating Breaks into Your Day

Alright, queens of the code and masters of the molecule, convinced of the power of breaks? Here's how to integrate them into your jam-packed workday:

  1. The Mighty Mini-Break: Set a timer for 5 minutes every hour. During this time, get up, stretch, grab a glass of water, or take a walk around the office. Every little bit counts!

  2. The Mindful Moment: Feeling overwhelmed? Take a few deep breaths and focus on your surroundings. Notice the sights, sounds, and smells around you. This simple practice can help to calm your mind and restore focus.

  3. The Coffee Break with a Twist: Who says coffee breaks are just for caffeine? Grab a colleague (or two!) and use this time to chat about non-work things. Building social connections can boost morale and reduce stress.

  4. The Lunchtime Escape: Ditch your desk at lunchtime! Take a walk outside, get some fresh air and sunshine.

  5. The Digital Detox: Schedule breaks from technology throughout the day. Silence your notifications and put your phone away for a designated period.

The Consequences of Skipping Breaks: Don't Be a Break-Buster

So, what happens when you skip those breaks? Here's the not-so-pretty side:

  • Burnout City: Constant work without breaks is a recipe for burnout. Feeling exhausted, cynical, and unproductive? That might be a sign you need a serious break.

  • Decision Fatigue Makes Bad Decisions: Skipping breaks leads to decision fatigue, which can cloud your judgment and lead to poor choices.

  • Creativity Takes a Vacation: Innovation thrives on a well-rested mind. Don't stifle your creativity by neglecting breaks.

Breakthroughs Happen on Breaks: Invest in Yourself

Taking breaks isn't a sign of weakness; it's a sign of strength and self-awareness. It's about investing in your well-being and maximizing your potential.


But listen, building healthy routines and integrating breaks can be tough, especially in a demanding field like STEM. That's where career coaching services like mine, LM Consulting, can come in.

I help ambitious women in STEM like you develop the tools and techniques you need to thrive, including routine management and mindfulness practices. Let's create a strategy that incorporates breaks into your workday, so you can recharge, unleash your inner rockstar, and dominate the world of STEM.


Conclusion

Remember, breaks aren't a luxury; they're a necessity. By incorporating short breaks throughout your day and taking advantage of well-deserved vacations, you'll be setting yourself up for success. You'll be sharper, more creative, and ultimately, a happier and more fulfilled STEM professional.


Ready to Break the Mold (and Take Some Awesome Breaks)?

Feeling overwhelmed by your workload and struggling to create healthy routines? Let's chat! Head over to learn more about my career coaching services and book your FREE strategy session today. Together, we can create a plan that helps you integrate breaks into your day, prioritize self-care, and reach your full potential.

Sources

  1. Study on short breaks improving information retention, Perruchet, P., & Poirier, M. (2005). Masking and recovery of unconscious learning: The role of attention. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 119(4), 421-431.

  2. Study on employees taking vacations and job satisfaction, Society for Human Resource Management. Employees Who Take All of Their Vacation Time Report Higher Levels of Job Satisfaction and Well-Being. Retrieved June 21, 2024.

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