You may look more productive when you skip your lunch or eat at your desk… But you aren’t!
A couple years ago, a survey was conducted with 600 office workers, and this is what they found:
- 54% regularly skip their lunch and work through their lunch hour
- 53% believe that the culture of not taking lunch is common in their workplace
- 20% didn’t take breaks under the pressure of their managers
There are many negative impacts to not leaving your desk for lunch, and you can find many sound arguments favoring you take the lunch break.
- Eating while checking emails leads to mindless eating, making you overeat and/or the wrong foods, resulting in weight gain.
- The most obvious argument is that you can get some fresh air. Getting some sun will help your body produce Vitamin D and increase serotonin levels in your body, helping regulate good mood.
- Desk and keyboards are not very sanitary and some argue that they can be dirtier than toilets, and when you drop food on them, it actually feeds the bacteria.
- Sitting for long periods of time with poor posture can cause health concerns such as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and musculoskeletal disorders.
This trend of skipping lunch comes with the notion that effective employees are those who are always available and on-task. They believe that taking an hour’s lunch break is counterproductive. This perception is especially powerful in the tech industry, but this idea is just wrong.
Experts believe that taking a real lunch break is actually more of a necessity, especially when talking about your health and career performance. Here’s why you need that break:
You are multitasking when you eat as you are working on your laptop and you are not mindful about what you are eating. By going out to lunch, you are able to pay attention to what you eat, guarding yourself against overdoing it. It takes the brain and stomach 20 minutes to sync up and tell you that you are full. Gobbling up food when distracted by work will only have you eating more than necessary.
Loss of mental energy
Everyone has a certain amount of mental energy that helps us focus, be creative, regulate our own behavior, and making critical decisions. When you work all day, without a break, all that mental energy gets drained away. The longer you go without a break, the more effortful each activity seems. Replenish your energy levels by taking your breaks, as this will make everything easier.
This mainly depends on whether you are an extrovert or an introvert. For extroverts, a lunch break can be very energizing, but for some introverts – not so much. You have to understand what energizes you and what drains you even more. If you don’t prefer doing that but still try, you will end up depleting your mental energy anyway and that defeats the purpose.
Burnout down the road
The choices you make today have the power to affect you later on. This holds true even for something as trivial as lunch breaks. You can power through without breaks for short periods of time, but it’s not healthy in the long run. You can say, “No one here takes a break and we’re all fine,” and it may seem that way at present. When it catches up to you, you will see stress-related illness, burnout and career dissatisfaction.
Food is many things for many people, something to be enjoyed and savored, also a source of energy that gets you through the day. If you don’t take your lunch break, you are refusing to give your body what it needs. Take a break to pay attention to your body, because a healthy body equals to a healthy mind.
Growing dislike of everything
When your day feels dragging, the only thing that can pick you up is doing something you like. Try eating your favorite sandwich, going for a stroll outside your office or anything that can lighten up your mood. Positive experiences and a positive mood make you more creative and you can easily connect different trains of thought and ideas that you might not normally connect.
Stagnate all day
All that sitting and staring at a computer screen is not good for you, and you end up straining your eyes, your back and not to mention the toll it takes on you internally. Getting up and moving about is an important part of your lunch break. Just sitting at a single place doesn’t only give you eye and back strain, but it also increases mental strain. Research states that taking a 30 minute walk during the mid-afternoon will improve moods and bring up more enthusiasm after.
Dining with germs
Do you even remember the last time you cleaned your desk? Exactly! Many studies show that our workplace can be crawling with germs and bacteria (even more than a toilet). That is not a good place to eat food, at least not unless you want to fall sick.
Taking a lunch break or even multiple breaks throughout your day will help your brain recuperate. Push your chair away from your desk, walk that distance and enjoy a nutritious meal. You’ll be healthier and more productive for it.