Time to take a break

Graphic of 2nd part in 12-part series

As one year ends and another begins, the two-week CERN closure can give us time to rest. Taking a break is necessary, not only at the end of the year, but within each working day. We can all make it a New Year’s resolution in 2024 to find time to take a break.

Why? Allowing ourselves to rest aids our physical and mental wellbeing. We return to a task with renewed energy and perspective, helping to increase our efficiency in the short and medium term.

Aerial photo of CERN restaurant 1's terrace with people sitting at tables
Reclaim the lunch break! This official break restores vitality, improves wellbeing and reconnects us with those around us and with ourselves. (Image: Christoph Balle/CERN)




Our workdays have an official break of one hour for lunch. Let’s reclaim it. It is an official time where we can disconnect from work and reconnect with colleagues. The pause restores vitality and improves our wellbeing. We can also add micro-breaks into our days, helping to keep a healthy distance from ongoing tasks; for example taking our eyes away from the computer screen for a few minutes.

Some breaks are almost invisible: a long deep breath before continuing to work. Other breaks involve a pause in concentration, setting aside a complex task to work on a simpler one. A break doesn’t always mean doing nothing; it can also involve doing something else. In fact, some of us need to do something to clear our minds.

CERN70: Some of CERN’s first personnel take a break in 1958, with the Salève mountain in the background. (Image: CERN)


A break that revitalises you?

We’ve all taken breaks that didn’t help to recover our strength. Even worse, we may return to work more tired than before. The best way to see if the break has been beneficial is to see how we feel when we come back.

A real break replenishes our energy and increases our efficiency. This means quietening our minds, changing our ideas and stepping back from current activities. It’s all about responding to our own needs: recharging our batteries, exercising, eating and drinking properly. It’s also knowing how to recreate internal availability, often lost among unfinished tasks and the demanding rhythm of work.

Offering ourselves a beneficial break, be it official or regular micro-breaks, involves working out what we really need and allowing ourselves that time.

Take action

As part of the “Efficiency and caring at work” campaign, the Work Well Feel Well website now offers useful resources that can be downloaded, including self-reflection exercises and sleep advice.

  • The recordings of the recent talks by the CERN Medical Service and psychologists on the topics of Flash disconnect” and “Cardiac coherence” provide practical advice and exercises to take a break during the working day.
  • The recording of the 2019 CERN talk “Sleep: The Wake Up Call” by Vicki Culpin highlights the importance of resting.
  • For those who prefer a break to be a chance to do something else, the Staff Association provides a list of wide-ranging clubs.

This is the second of a 12-part Work Well Feel Well series, with articles to be published every two months.