Take a break – Doctor’s Orders

Feeling the gloom with too much zoom?
New research has come out this week from Microsoft showing the possible negative effects on our brain of having back to back virtual meetings.The study looked at brainwave activity via EEG recording technology which is used to study electrical activity in our brains. The investigators worked with 14 volunteers and looked at their EEG recordings as they  participated in two different days of meetings. On day X they had four 30 minute meetings run without breaks. On day Y,  they had the same number of 30 minute meetings but this time the meetings werebroken up with 10 minute breaks. In these prescribed breaks,  they were assigned a meditation task via the Headspace app .

What they found
Results showed that brain activity linked to stress increased as people experienced frequent virtual meetings without breaks scheduled in.

Take a break, feel better, makes sense right? But what they found by looking at the EEG results when comparing these individuals on both days they found that having the breaks between the meetings allowed the chance for the brain to reset. Beta waves are frequency of brain waves detected with stress. Taking the regular breaks and using this time to really switch off reduced the amount of beta waves produced. This meant participants could start their next session in a more relaxed stateWait, there’s more… 
The results on the day without breaks showed the pattern of brainwaves correlated to reduced engagement in the meat of the meeting. Regular breaks helped meeting attendees focus.

And finally
Stress peaked going from one meeting and starting another as people re-started and logged into the next call. When the participants had their break their stress levels didn’t peak in the same way at the start of the next meeting. Another win for ‘Team break’
Microsoft concluded scientifically what intuitively makes sense. Taking regular breaks throughout the day,  helps reduce fatigue and increases engagement, focus and well being especially if you are facing constant virtual meetings.

Keep well, Dr Clara Russell