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Rest Breaks

Mental Health in the Working World

Rest breaks are interruptions to work in which work activities should not be carried out. For example, they are intended for recuperation, provide a balance to work and enable personal interaction.

Rest breaks are delimited conceptually from longer periods of recuperation outside working hours, such as rest periods or weekends and unscheduled interruptions to work such as waiting times or disturbances to work processes. In addition, a difference is made between statutorily prescribed longer breaks and operationally organised and arbitrarily inserted concealed breaks.

Rest breaks are a component of various theories. From the perspective of working time, stress and recovery research, paid breaks reduce working hours. On the other hand, they enable the reduction of strain symptoms during working hours. From the point of view of various theories of motivation psychology, frequent breaks with short intervals between them are particularly advantageous. In emotion psychology, the positive effects of anticipating an imminent break play an important role. According to cognition and learning science, breaks improve learning performance, concentration and memory consolidation, namely through different cognitive mechanisms.

Current state of knowledge

A scoping review by the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health summarises the state of scientific knowledge of rest breaks. It focuses on rest breaks, rest regimes and time-related degrees of freedom in breaks organisation and considers their interrelationships with (mental) health and well-being. It also describes the relations of breaks to motivation, job satisfaction and performance. The review also reveals research gaps and discusses options for designing this factor.

The project "Mental Health in the Working World"

The scoping review on rest breaks is part of the project "Mental Health in the Working World - determining the current state of scientific evidence". The project assesses mental load factors by means of the state of scientific knowledge.

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