Take Back Your Lunch Break

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“I can’t take my lunch break, I’m busy.”

One of the great myths around productivity is that it equals hours worked. Nonsense. It’s about what we accomplish during our working hours. Some people accomplish more in two hours than others do in seven.

So what’s your next excuse?

“My boss never leaves his desk.”

That’s even more reason for you to take a break. Maybe they’re a robot? Seriously there’s no point both of you getting unwell because you spend all day hunched over your desk, underneath the glare of artificial light, in stale air and quite possibly making yourself ill doing it. Taking a lunch break is not just about food: it’s about refreshing your mind and is proven to increase productivity and good decision making in the afternoon.

Taking your lunch break does not mean eating at your desk. Plus, it’s bad for your keyboard. All those crumbs and the ever-present danger of spilt drinks will make an enemy of the IT department and that’s never a good idea. You need those people in your life.

The reasons for taking a lunch break are far more compelling than low blood sugar. Working straight through exhausts your cognitive capacity and makes it harder to solve problems,
be they creative or otherwise. Cognitive resources are scarce and easily depleted. If you forgo lunch thinking you’ll just push forward, then you’re not doing anyone any favours, including your boss. If there’s a meeting after lunch and you haven’t taken a break or eaten anything, you’re hardly likely to be in good form to brainstorm.

“I feel guilty if I take lunch.”

Goodness where did that come from? Guilt is something we often self-impose so we’re sorry but we’re not buying that easily.

Anyway, you don’t have to take an hour. Even a twenty-minute break, where you take a walk or better still, eat mindfully will help refuel your brain. Mindful eating is where you go somewhere – perhaps your canteen or lunchroom or even outside the building (yes, you can do it) and eat your lunch with intention, focusing just on eating. Too many people think multi-tasking during eating is a break but it’s exactly the opposite.

Fifteen minutes where you eat your sandwich or salad and enjoy the break is like a meditation exercise: by focusing only on eating you cut out all other distractions which will make you feel like you’ve had a longer break. Plus, it’s better for your digestion.

If you’re one of the lucky ones whose employer has a relaxing room or even a nap room, then take advantage of it. A twenty-minute nap or simply shutting your eyes and meditating will clear your mind of unnecessary thoughts. Finally, if you can get to a park or outside greenery, do it. Nature does wonders for both our mental and physical fitness. The point is that the break is there for a very good reason. Well lots of reasons. Take it.


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