It’s Time For Your Lunch Break. Do Yourself a Favor and Take It!

lunch_j_s_dykes

Illustration by John S.Dykes, http://www.jsdykes.com/

This post is a reminder, no matter what you do for a living, to TAKE A LUNCH BREAK. You deserve it.

People today work harder than ever. When it comes to taking a lunch break, many of us rush through it, or even skip it altogether. We eat quickly as we’re walking to our next appointment, or worse yet, we eat at our desks as we continue to work.

While it has become widespread culture for people to work straight through their lunch “hour”, it might be worth considering that taking the time to eat a leisurely-ish and healthy midday meal can make you more productive and focused. A proper break has the power to refresh, rejuvenate and revive you. Studies also show that it helps you handle stress better and recharges your brain from what they call “decision fatigue.”

The Take Back Your Lunch project was started a few years ago by Tony Schwartz, author of The Way We’re Working, and encouraged people to ditch their desks and and commit at least once a week to a lunch hour of renewal, not work.  At Schwartz’s company, The Energy Project, they did a poll and found out that 60% of respondents said they took 20 minutes or less every day for lunch. Almost 20% took less than 10 minutes, while one-quarter of the people said they didn’t leave their desks at all.

And then there are those who skip lunch altogether on a regular basis. What “skippers” don’t realize is that fatigue and burnout can slowly creep up on them.

These findings are consistent with a study by the American Dietetic Association, which found that 75% of office workers eat lunch at their desk at least 2 to 3 days a week. Dr. Chris Cunningham, professor of Occupational Health Psychology at University of Tennessee adds that it’s important to take it away from the desk because it gives your brain a chance to recover and then refocus.

salad boxes

The Goods, http://www.thegoodsisgood.ca/lunchclub/

So there you have it, it’s better for your mental and physical health to 1. take a proper lunch break, and 2. eat somewhere other than your desk.

The reality however is that leaving your desk or workplace is often easier said than done. No matter where you take your break, there ARE ways to keep it healthy and make it more pleasant.  Here are a few of them:

  • Turn off the computer.
  • Have lunch with a friend or colleague. Studies show that connecting with people during the day can be energizing.
  • Bring a healthy meal in an recyclable container from home. Lunches like soups and salads are versatile, easy to digest, and help avoid sluggishness that can follow a heavy meal.
  • Instead of eating out of Tupperware and other plastic containers, transfer your food to a reusable plate or a nice-looking eco-friendly disposable plate or bowl.
  • If you can’t bring lunch from home, find a caterer or “lunch club” that delivers healthy meals to the office in biodegradable containers.  Even  better if they supply disposable takeout utensils. Ordering weekly saves you time.
  • Get some daylight and fresh air. They say one of the easiest ways to replenish is to interact with nature. Eat on a park bench. Maybe even squeeze in a short walk.

The good news is that according to the BBC, more employers are encouraging their workers to take REAL lunch breaks. So even if you can’t leave the office, you can still let people know you are…  “OUT TO LUNCH”!!

 

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