Working Life

Taking a break is hard work, too

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  05 Apr 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6435, pp. 98
DOI: 10.1126/science.364.6435.98

eLetters is an online forum for ongoing peer review. Submission of eLetters are open to all. eLetters are not edited, proofread, or indexed.  Please read our Terms of Service before submitting your own eLetter.

Compose eLetter

Plain text

  • Plain text
    No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Author Information
First or given name, e.g. 'Peter'.
Your last, or family, name, e.g. 'MacMoody'.
Your email address, e.g.
Your role and/or occupation, e.g. 'Orthopedic Surgeon'.
Your organization or institution (if applicable), e.g. 'Royal Free Hospital'.
Statement of Competing Interests

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Enter the characters shown in the image.

Vertical Tabs

  • RE: The breaks that rejuvenate
    • Shahid Abbas Abbasi, CSIR Emeritus Professor, Centre for pollution Control and Environmental Engineering, Pondicherry University, India

    The breaks that rejuvenate

    Taking a break can be hard work (Björnmalm, Science, 364: 98) if the break is of a full day or longer. With much lesser strain one can take ‘mini-breaks’ of a few minutes every day to prevent getting wound up and retaining the zest for research work.

    My academic career began in 1970 and I am in an Emeritus position since 2015 but am still to take my first vacation. Baring the rare occasions of catching fever or day-long travel, I have been working atleast 10 hours a day, all days of the week. Besides having authored a fairly large numbers of books, patents, and papers ( AAAAJ&hl=en), I keep myself abreast of current affairs and have even authored commentaries on them. I also manage composing poems and reciting them off-and-on.

    All this has been possible because I have steered clear of vacations and long breaks but have trained myself to make the most of the ‘mini-breaks’ that come several times in a day: the short drives from residence to office and back, the two 5-minute tea breaks, the 35 minute lunch, the 45 minute dinner, two 45 minute spells of exercise, and sleep. During these times I keep entirely to myself, savoring those moments of leisure and feeling my batteries getting recharged. If pursuing one work starts becoming frustrating I simply switch to another work till an impetus comes to go ba...

    Show More
    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • RE:


    First I like to thank author Mattias Björnmalm and Science journal for giving us a beautiful piece of work1. It is a common thought that scientists should work hard and taking break from research is considered almost criminal by many. We scientists are so burdened by this expectation of society and peers that we continue to do assigned work till total breakdown, even if it was shown futile by the experiments. I am totally agree with the statement in the article, “Exciting, novel ideas do not come from a mind constantly under pressure.” Our brain has a great capacity, but it can function at its full capacity when it is free from undue pressures. As mentioned in the article, I have also got many of my ideas when I was relax, roaming around, playing games or just sitting idle. When I was doing my Ph.D. in Biochemistry, many of my colleagues were publishing a lot of papers, while I was unable to so. Finally at the end of my Ph.D., with the help of my guide I was able to publish 2 papers, each of which have significant impact on cardiac biochemistry. Therefore, I repeat the message given in the article, “Work smarter, not harder.” We are doing research for our passion and curiosity, not for any rat race. Even if your colleagues and peers are working for long hours and publishing many papers, a single paper written by you with free mind will shine brightly in the scientific literature, giving you a sense of fulfillment as a main achievement and a delig...

    Show More
    Competing Interests: None declared.

Navigate This Article