Our jobs are more flexible than ever. Technology advancements have created room and means for many of us to work remotely where the requirement to be constrained to working certain hours in a day is reduced. But what happens to our lunch breaks? In this article, we address the value of taking breaks at work and why you should not skip your lunch break.
While we all know that we should take a lunch break, whether working remotely or in an office, we frequently feel too overwhelmed with work tasks to cut out time in the middle of the day to step away from our screens. With growing concepts such as the rise and grind mentality that’s swept over social media, we are continuously fed information that yells – if you’re not always hustling, you are not doing enough and, effectively, you are failing.
It’s not only the workplaces that promote us to squeeze every bit of work out of our free time; we do it to each other. When our self-worth is tied up in the idea of working harder, smarter, and faster, then the lost sleep and the desk lunches become something to boast about.
Why take a lunch break
Taking a lunch break, or even several short breaks during the day allows our brains to recuperate.
Not surprisingly, research shows that not taking breaks is making us worse at our jobs, with a 2011 study revealing that taking breaks actually increases worker’s productivity. Most of us are guilty of eating lunch at our desks from time to time, but doing so consistently has, in fact, been proven to make us sick.
Eating lunch while working might seem convenient, but there are several health implications we should consider, such as sore joints, slower metabolism, and even certain types of cancer.
What we have got to remember is that taking a break does not necessarily mean that we just stop working for a certain period, it’s also a chance for us to leave your desks to relax in a different environment.
It has been suggested that even just looking at nature can have a positive effect on productivity. While you may only be tempted to change your screensaver to a picture of a tropical forest and hope for the best, fresh air is still unbeatable.
The trouble with misusing technology is that it can destroy what limited intuition we have left as a species of perceiving what’s real for ourselves. We have already primarily disconnected with nature, and we rely on algorithms and Apps as a means to tell us whether we have taken enough steps, drank enough water, or eaten the right amount of calories.
It is seemingly becoming increasingly harder for us to disconnect and to just be with ourselves even for short periods, such as lunch breaks. Merely sitting and focusing on eating seems like an impossible task for most, inevitably overlooked as a ‘waste of time.’ Even when we are not necessarily concentrating on work tasks, we are still pierced feverishly to screens, whether that’s scrolling through social media, checking personal emails, flicking through dating Apps, or agonizing over corrupt politics. With so little space for our brains to take a pause, it is inevitably harboring a state of anxiety in a lot of minds.
We suggest, giving ourselves a lunch hour of nothing digital. If this sounds nearly impossible, give it 7 days to see the results before dissing it. Reading, relaxing, stretching, taking a walk, or having conversations is hardly a wild proposition, yet we still rarely seem to do these things.
Taking a break away from your desk and from technology will make you feel refreshed and more productive, and as a result, that lunch break will become a necessity for you to achieve more.
Listen to what your body needs
Our bodies are the most magnificent biomechanical machines in the known universe. With thousands of intricate reactions and processes going on every single second, we are continually getting feedback with chemical messages being sent to our brains, and these are the things we need to rediscover. Due to all the adrenaline, caffeine, sugar, and other stimulants during the day, we can be entirely out of touch with when we actually need a break. We fuel ourselves with stimulants, both physical and mental, to push through the days, and then wonder why we are so tired. Perhaps it’s time to start listening to our bodies and getting in tune with our inner feedback mechanisms. No amount of data from our Fitbit can ever replicate such information.
While society encourages us to work harder consistently, it is important to take moments where we do not fixate on chasing success or happiness as some future point. This inevitably starts with leadership. Employers are being called to incentivize their workers to care for themselves. By offering health benefits, speaking openly about mental health, and encouraging smart exercise and nutrition, there will be more mindful, creative, and inspired workplaces.
Venturing outdoors for your lunch break will benefit you more than you may think. Fall in love with the process of allowing yourself to take a break, and don’t worry about the outcomes – they’ll look after themselves.