Eight ways that taking a real lunch break can improve your work (and life)

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Eight ways that taking a real lunch break can improve your work (and life)

Whether you’re at the office or working from home, the lunch “hour” is hardly a real reprieve. Most of us quickly scarf down a salad to maximize our daily output. In fact, a study by OfficeTeam, an administrative staffing company, found that 56 ­percent of employees who can take an hour for lunch actually take less than 30 minutes—and almost one-third admit to working while they eat.

If you’re worried that your new, solitary lunch isn’t quite the same break as grabbing a bite with colleagues, don’t: A November 2019 study by the Yale School of Management found that those who ate lunch with co-workers were as fatigued by day’s end as those who worked through lunch, while those who ate lunch by themselves were the most relaxed. So, step away from your computer and ditch the desk-side dining. Here’s why career, wellness, and productivity experts say uninterrupted lunch breaks are a necessity—not a guilt-inducing luxury.

Reason no. 1: Skipping won’t earn you any favours

Bosses don’t give bonuses for working through your lunch break. Take what you’re given and make the most of it.

– —Caleb Backe, certified life coach and wellness expert, Maple Holistics

Reason no. 2: Your brain works better

A break of at least 20 minutes can help you find balance in the day and sharpen you for the rest of your afternoon. Taking a walk, listening to a podcast or reading a book can be a shot of ‘me time’ a lot of working moms can’t get after work, which helps restore your brain power.

– —Julie Morgenstern, author of Time to Parent

Reason no. 3: It’s a mood booster

Getting up and walking around a bit increases blood flow and makes you think more clearly. You’ll also feel better if you walk outside during your break each day.

– —Stacy Caprio, business coach

Reason no. 4: You’ll get more done

Enjoying your lunch improves your productivity and increases your brain activity; we are more creative when we get back to our desks.

– —Sara Curto, career management specialist

Reason no. 5: It reduces distractions

Getting a chance to answer personal emails, set up doctor appointments and make a grocery list means you won’t be distracted by these personal tasks while working.

– —Carley Childress, CEO, Macorva, an employee-engagement platform

Reason no. 6: You’ll be a less stressed parent

Your lunch break is often the only time that you get to yourself. Rushing it or working through it means your nervous system doesn’t relax, which drains you. You become less efficient, and you’ll feel more stressed when you get home to see your kids.

– —Bianca Riemer, certified health and life coach

Reason no. 7: It’ll help balance your day

Have you ever experienced that 2 p.m. feeling—yawns, energy crash, and cravings for you next pick-me-up? This feeling is directly related to what you’ve had for lunch. If we don’t eat enough throughout the day, we tend to make up for it later. So if you’ve skipped lunch, but then overdo it on evening snacks, there’s a biochemical reason as to why this happens. Focus on your mid-day meal and you’ll be less likely to overindulge at night.

– —Brooke Scheller, Freshly’s director of nutrition

Reason no. 8: It prompts problem solving

Distancing yourself from your work gives room for insights and different ways of thinking—as well as time to come up with better responses to emails and colleagues.

– —Charlie Gilkey, business growth advisor, Productive Flourishing

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