A couple of days ago, I saw a question in one of my Facebook groups, that quickly caught my attention. The question was: Do you usually take a lunch break?
I started reading the answers. Turns out, the majority of people don’t take a break during their workday, and when they do, it’s just to quickly gobble something in front of the computer.
When I was a young worker, I used to skip my lunch break, under the excuse that “there was no one to cover for me”. After just a few months in that job, I started feeling the effects of not taking my lunch break regularly. This was a mistake I quickly learned from.
Now, we might have lots of reasons (excuses), for not taking a break from our job:
- My boss doesn’t take a break; it’d look bad if I did.
- None of my coworkers take a break.
- I’ll get behind on my tasks.
- I have too much work.
- I don’t need one.
And the list goes on…
Does this sound like you?
Here are some of the positive effects of regularly taking your lunch:
1. It makes you more productive
You might be tempted to work through your lunch break, or just grab something and eat at your desk while you do your report, process emails, or answer phone calls. When there’s so much to do, it may be too easy to justify not taking a break in the middle of your workday. Plus, you may feel like the most productive person in the world by not taking a break. Ironically, the effect is completely the opposite.
Skipping your lunch break may cause burnout and fatigue, not only during the afternoon, but also in the long run. Sooner or later, you’ll start feeling resentful, like your efforts don’t matter, or that nobody around you notices how hard you work. You may feel you’ve been working endlessly, causing you to feel unsatisfied with your work, your career, or your business.
By taking a pause during your workday, you’ll return to your activities with a clearer mind and renewed energies to get through the rest of the day. It will even increase your productivity at the end of the afternoon, when you normally struggle to complete your tasks.
2. It has positive effects on your body
Being sitting for long periods of time can cause digestive problems, varicose veins, weak bones, tension and pain in neck, shoulders, and back, and can even damage vital organs such as the heart, pancreas, and colon.
When you take time away from your desk and get moving, even if it’s just to go to the coffee shop around the corner, you get the opportunity to do a little work-out, stretch your muscles and ligaments, and change your position for a while. All of this is good for your body. Even standing up for as little as 90 seconds can activate the systems that process blood sugar, triglycerides and cholesterol.
So, take your lunch not only to boost your productivity, but also to improve your health.
3. You will have less cravings, and more control over your weight
Waiting too long to eat can cause you to feel dizzy, lightheaded, crabby, and weak. In many cases, this is caused by low blood sugar levels, which in turn cause you to crave sweets, refined carbs, and greasy foods. You’ll be one step away from overindulging, and the pounds will start to accumulate.
Some workers opt for going out of the office and grab something quick to eat at their desk. The problem is, these quick meals are often loaded with fat, sodium, and “empty calories” that will do more harm than good.
Being tied to your desk for long hours without taking a break may also cause you to accumulate fat in the abdominal area. The accumulation of fat in this particular area is directly related to high stress levels. Recent studies have shown that fat cells are receptive to the stress hormone cortisol. On top of that, the body has more cortisol receptors in abdominal fat cells, and this cause your waist to accumulate fat when you’re stressed. You’ll also get fat in your hips, thighs and buttocks for being sitting down for long hours.
All of these negative effects can be minimized or reversed just by taking a lunch break regularly. Try to eat healthy foods, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, yogurt, lean meats and whole grains. These foods will keep you satisfied during the day, without the afternoon drowsiness caused by large, high-calorie meals.
How to take a good lunch break?
Does it matter if you decide to use your lunch time to run errands or do other personal activities?
It actually does.
It’s not the same to take that time to run errands, surf the Internet, or use it entirely to check your personal email, or go on social media platforms. These activities won’t do much to help you relieve stress and refuel your energy.
Use your lunch time wisely.
A good lunch break should take anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour, and should be spent away from your desk, or even better, away from your workplace. Use that time to eat slowly, relax, read something not work related, socialize, or sit in nature, and try to change your lunch setting whenever possible. Don’t take work with you, and avoid looking at your phone, send texts, or answer calls related to your work. This is a time to rest and unwind.
If you take the time to actually get away from your desk for a while, you’ll come back renewed, refreshed, and with more energy to make it through the afternoon.
- Try to eradicate the work-obsessed mentality by starting taking your lunch break regularly. Don’t look at breaks as something only lazy people do. Remember, you have to feed your brain, and take care of your body in order to be at your highest capacity, so start giving your lunch break its due importance.
- Pack a nourishing lunch. My favorite? Chicken salad sandwich with lettuce and cucumbers, on whole wheat bread. For dessert: plain yogurt with strawberries, slivered almonds, and a drizzle of honey. Try it, it’s heavenly!
- Share this article with your closest coworker, start going to lunch together, and experience the benefits of a regular lunch break by yourselves. Soon, the whole office will follow your lead.