Work stress: short breaks more effective

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Take a break more often: Several short breaks are more sensible.

(06/29/2010) Breaks have a bad reputation in Germany. An incorrectly interpreted work ethic that does not necessarily ensure an effective workday. This was also explained in an interview by the industrial and organizational psychologist Prof. Rainer Wieland from the University of Wuppertal. His advice: taking breaks reduces the stress level and makes work more effective.

A recipe for success in everyday work is often to take a break. The simple but effective concept protects workers from excessive stress and also protects health. Employee breaks are also valuable for employers. The employees thus create new energy and make the work more meaningful. Many people believe that they have to convert the break into a "business lunch" and continue to work during the break. But the recovery factor is small with such a lunch.

Breaks have a bad reputation in Germany, says Prof. Rainer Wieland from the West German University of Wuppertal. In contrast, employees are courted when they think they don't need a break. But a break inspires employees to take on new activities, protects health and reduces stress. Employees are then much more efficient, emphasizes Prof. Wieland.

The design of the breaks is important. The psychologist Wieland suggests doing smaller yoga exercises or autogenic training for relaxation. A little "doze" to replenish the energy is an adequate remedy. "It doesn't have to be a half-hour nap, five to ten minutes are enough," explains Heike Schambortski from the professional association for health service and welfare in Hamburg. Short walks and a deep breath in the park can provide a relaxation factor. It is important to leave the workplace once in order to get other thoughts.

Breaks are also anchored in the Working Hours Act. The working hours of the employees may not exceed six hours without a break. If the working time is longer than six to nine hours, employees must be given a break of at least 30 minutes. However, the employer may divide the breaks into several 15-minute breaks. (sb)

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