A common belief exists that doing things that are non-work-related are more beneficial, Hunter explained. Based on the study, there was no evidence to prove that non-work-related activities were more beneficial.
Simply put, preferred break activities are things you choose to do and things you like to do. These could also include work-related tasks.
"Finding something on your break that you prefer to do -- something that's not given to you or assigned to you -- are the kinds of activities that are going to make your breaks much more restful, provide better recovery and help you come back to work stronger," Hunter said.
People who take "better breaks" experience better health and increased job satisfaction.
The employee surveys showed that recovery of resources -- energy, concentration and motivation -- following a "better break" (earlier in the day, doing things they preferred) led workers to experience less somatic symptoms, including headache, eyestrain and lower back pain after the break.
These employees also experienced increased job satisfaction and organizational citizenship behavior as well as a decrease in emotional exhaustion (burnout), the study shows.