If you’re part of the 20% of workers who don’t take their lunch break, we have news for you. While you may think you’re being more productive by working those extra 30 minutes to an hour, you may actually be doing more harm than good. Here’s why:
Few people plan their mornings around making a healthy, energy-boosting breakfast to start their day. So, chances are, you either skipped breakfast or grabbed something less than nutritious for your morning meal on your way to work. And no, coffee doesn’t count as a meal. If you then continue to deprive your body of what it needs to properly function, you’ll pay the price in more ways than one and your work could actually suffer as a result.
Sometimes stepping away from a problem or task can help you find the solution. When you’re so engulfed in your work, your perspective can often become muddled and stressed. By stepping away and focusing on something unrelated to work, you may return with a fresh outlook and approach. As a result, your lunch break can quite literally be food for thought.
Sleeping on the job is never a good idea, but sleeping on your lunch break may be. Sleep helps to clear out the information holding area of your brain, and move important information into the long-term memory. So, a quick midday power nap may be just what you need to stay laser sharp and focused. Keep it short, no more than 20 minutes, and you’ll avoid waking up with a sleep hangover.
Hangry isn’t just a ‘hastagable’ social media term. Skipping lunch and depriving your body of the proper nutrients can have a negative effect on your mood, leaving you vulnerable to even the slightest of upsets. So, do yourself, and your coworkers, a favor and eat your lunch.
If you’re neither an early bird nor a night owl, you may have a hard time fitting a workout routine into your schedule. However, you may be in luck. Some studies have shown that the most ideal hours for exercise are between the hours of 3-6pm. This may be because physical performance is generally at its peak, and risk for injury is at its lowest at these times. Additionally, some studies suggest that your muscle strength may be at its best and your lungs perform better during late afternoon hours. So don’t feel inferior when you pass early morning joggers on your way to work, because that is considered the worst performance time of the day.
Your lunch break is a time for you to focus on yourself and detach from your job duties. So, while you’re on your break don’t answer emails, prepare for the rest of your day, or think about what you have to do when you return to your desk. Find a place that you don’t associate with work and participate in mindful eating. Focus on your food, your surroundings, your body, and how you feel. If you make a conscious effort to do this, you may become part of the majority of employees that report feeling refreshed after taking their lunch break, and prepared for a productive rest of the day.
It’s so important, in fact, that Subway initiated a #SaveLunchBreak campaign in 2015 to emphasize the importance of, well… taking your lunch break. It’s one of those little things that can make a huge difference in the long run. If your job just doesn’t allow you to take a 30-minute or 1-hour lunch break, try to take multiple, short breaks throughout the day. This will still give you the opportunity to recharge and recover from the stresses of work, and maintain your concentration and well-being.