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Employee Wellbeing Test: Do Short Breaks Relieve Stress?

How long should your breaks at work be? Not long at all. Our employee wellbeing test suggests that even short breaks bring wellbeing benefits. Here’s what we learned with Garmin – with three exercises you can try right away.

Anxious? Stressed? Just breathe – it helps, really.

We’re not just saying that, either: we have real-life data (by Garmin) to back it up.  

In spring 2021, we tested Yogaia’s employee wellbeing service with a group of pilot users and measured how regular stress management exercises affected daily stress levels (tracked with Garmin’s Venu Sq smartwatches). 

What the data revealed wasn’t exactly a shocker: even a short break doing Yogaia’s mind and body exercises reduced stress. 

What was more surprising was that when it comes to stress management, a regular routine seems to be more important than the duration of exercises.

Less than 10 minutes a day of exercising the mind and body was enough to reduce stress levels.

How Exercising the Mind and Body Affected Stress

In February 2021, 50 specialists working in demanding roles at Valtti Oy got unlimited access to Yogaia’s new employee wellbeing service and for 4 months, they tested the full range of on-demand wellbeing exercises with mindfulness, movement and relaxation. 

All the routines in the service are based on the most recent scientific evidence and designed to relieve stress and boost energy levels, including sequences like these:

During the 4-month pilot program, 19 of the pilot users tracked their daily stress levels, recovery and amount of sleep with Garmin Venu Sq smartwatches on the days they did Yogaia’s exercises and on the days they took a break from the wellbeing practice. 

“It's impressive how significantly Yogaia’s exercises reduce stress levels as showed by data tracked with Garmin’s Venu Sq smartwatches that use continuous heart rate variability to evaluate the user's all-day stress levels. The watches even prompt the user to reduce stress by breathing," says Joern Watzke, Senior Director Garmin Health Global.

After four months of piloting, we analyzed Garmin data from 16 pilot users and found that even tiny breaks helped to reduce stress.

A Short Break, Significant Positive Effect

The stress levels among the pilot group were significantly lower on the days that included Yogaia’s exercises than on the days they skipped the practice. 

“The difference in stress levels was statistically significant”, confirms COO, psychologist Kaisa Soininen from Yogaia. 

What’s interesting about the results, and perhaps comforting for many of us, is this: stress management doesn’t require a lot of time, just regularity. 

“Based on the data we analyzed, less than 10 minutes of daily exercises with Yogaia reduced stress notably”, says Kaisa Soininen.

What’s worth pointing out is that stress levels bounced back to where they were before or rose higher on the days the users didn’t do any exercises.

To sum it up, for stress management purposes, it’s better to exercise the mind and body for a few minutes a day than an hour or two every now and then. 

The Benefits of Taking a Break (and Why Employers Should Care)

At the end of the day, we can’t outsource responsibility for our wellbeing, but a gentle nudge in the right direction from our employer could be just the encouragement we need to change our habits. 

Employers, think of it this way: supporting employee wellbeing is an investment that will yield high returns in better recovery, improved ability to focus and a boost in energy and creativity. 

As researched by Deloitte, employers can expect an average return of £5 for every £1 spent.

Aligned with research findings, the user experiences from Yogaia’s employee wellbeing service report multiple benefits that positively affect work:

Better Ability to Focus

"For as long as I can remember, I used to lose my focus after lunch and picking things up again was difficult. After doing Yogaia’s short exercises for a few minutes right after lunch, it has become easier to get back going. My idle time after lunch is way shorter."

Quicker Recovery

“I finish every work day with Yogaia’s routine. It’s a great way to ‘close the books’ for the day, which helps to switch to ‘off’ mode, especially in the home office. This has helped me to put an end to dwelling on work stuff all night long and even in my sleep.”

More Productivity

“Even 10-15 minutes of exercising in the morning helps me shake off any lethargy and I’ve noticed I get more done at work when I kick off my day with Yogaia’s practice. With more energy and better focus, I don’t have to drag on the work day after hours.”

The individual benefits of exercising the body and mind are undeniable, but wellbeing isn’t (just) everybody’s own personal business – it’s the business’ business, too!

Employees that are more focused and energetic are more likely to get things done and feel a sense of accomplishment in their jobs. That allows them to spend their time off relaxing, and not agonizing over pending to-dos at work. With a healthy work-life balance and enough recovery, employees will return to work ready to work, instead of just trying to make it from 9 to 5. 

To avoid turning the pursuit of wellbeing to another stressful to-do, we've made it as easy as possible to take one small step every day with Yogaia Pause – featuring super short exercises suitable for everyone (who breathes).

Completely hassle-free kick-off and everyday use – just plug and play and start boosting employee wellbeing instantly.

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