AESES supports the well-being and mental health of members while they are at work and in their personal lives. AESES encourages members to be informed about resources and make use of the services (if needed) provided by their institution. Below, see the resources available to you as an employee, including general links to support your well-being.
Why Should I Take Breaks and Why Don’t I?
In the June 2023 insideAESES newsletter article, “Can You Tell Me: What are my Break Entitlements?” our members were reminded about their eligibility for breaks. But why are breaks so important?
There are a lot of reasons for you to take your allotted breaks throughout the workday. AESES employees are entitled to breaks because of the benefits negotiated during the bargaining process as well as provincial legislation. Therefore, one good reason to take breaks during the workday is simply because it is your right.
The other important reasons to take your breaks during the workday are to avoid fatigue (rest) or to fill other physiological needs such as eating food or socializing (refresh). According to Wellness Works Canada, breaks can reduce or prevent stress and exhaustion, re-energize you, improve performance and productivity, and reduce the risk of sleep disorders and cardiovascular disease. A relaxing break helps you recover mental and physical function to your baseline.*
Studies have proven work breaks are recovery opportunities that foster well-being and do not detract from performance. However, while we know taking breaks are beneficial, sometimes we still find ourselves choosing to work non-stop. A recent study from the University of Waterloo stated the top three reasons employees keep on going and don’t take breaks despite the downsides:
- having a heavy workload,
- desiring to keep momentum, and
- completing work rapidly or within a deadline.*
However, these types of workplace challenges are precisely why you need to take your allotted breaks in full.
For the reasons listed above and more, at times it can be easy to skip breaks or forget to take them. Here are some tips to avoid skipping breaks:
- Set daily reminders or alarms to take your breaks so you don’t forget. Whether working on-site or remotely.
- Set up regular or semi-regular weekly or monthly coffee/tea or lunch dates with other colleagues. With staff in your area and in other areas – make connections and branch out while on break! If working remotely often, try phone or virtual lunch and coffee dates.
- Use breaks to get active or get outdoors – stretch, go for a walk, start or join a walking group, work out at the campus gym, meditate or read/listen to a book in a shady area, etc. Breaks are a good opportunity to get some exercise or fresh air in the middle of your workday.
- Find yourself stuck or spinning in circles on a project? That’s an indicator it might be a good time to take your break.
- Those in supervisory roles need to lead by example and take breaks too. Also, use appropriate language to encourage employees to take a break without making them feel criticized.*
- If you are skipping breaks due to frequent interruption, lack of coverage, work stresses (for example, technical issues causing delays), or workload concerns, talk to your supervisor. They can help by re-assigning priorities, re-assigning duties, and/or providing other solutions to assist.
Another thing to remember is that if you need to take care of biological needs (ex. bathroom breaks, dietary/nutritional, medical, etc.), you do not have to use or wait for your break to do so. As generally you only need a couple to a few minutes to take care of basic needs throughout a workday. Just make sure you have coverage if/as needed for these short absences.
For all these reasons and more, take your breaks!
* Jim Wilson, “Why don’t workers take breaks?”, Mar 28, 2023. Why don’t workers take breaks? | Canadian HR Reporter
Crisis resources (24/7)
- For urgent emergencies, please dial 911
- Winnipeg Regional Health Authority Crisis Response Centre, 817 Bannatyne Avenue
- Manitoba Suicide Prevention & Support Line
- Sexual Assault Crisis Line, 204-786-8631, Toll free: 1-888-292-7565
- Klinic crisis program
- Winnipeg Regional Health Authority Mobile Crisis Service, 204-940-1781
- 211 Manitoba – 211 is the front door to public, community-based social services in Manitoba. It’s free, confidential and available in 150+ languages, 7 days a week.
Food and nutrition
- Make healthy meals with the Eat Well Plate – Canada’s food guide
- Understanding food labels – Government of Canada
Mental health, disorders, support, self-help, and counselling
- Addictions Foundation of Manitoba
- Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba
- Canadian Mental Health Association – Manitoba and Winnipeg
- The Hope for Wellness Help Line – Immediate help to all Indigenous peoples across Canada
- Indigenous Organizations in Manitoba
- Manitoba Schizophrenia Society
- the Men’s Resource Centre of Manitoba
- Mental Health 101
- Mental Health Crisis and Non-Crisis Regional Contacts
- Mood Disorders Association
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Centre Manitoba
- Province of Manitoba – Mental Health Virtual Therapy Program (AbilitiCBT)
- Rainbow Resource Centre
- Mental Health Commission of Canada
- Wellness Together Canada
Stress, exercise, overall wellness, and health
Last updated: January 2023 | = New resource added
Disclaimer: Always consult your physician or other health care professional before beginning any exercise or nutrition program. The information found on these links is not intended to replace your healthcare professional.