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Why You Need To Get Away From Your Desk At Lunchtime

Why You Need To Get Away From Your Desk At Lunchtime

We’ve heard it before: make sure you eat your lunch away from the desk. How many of us do this in practice, though? There are always more emails to answer and more reports to write - how could we possibly spare even a few minutes to munch? Some office cultures have framed the lunchtime break as the antithesis to productivity and working hard, yet, as it turns out, time out is precisely the opposite.

Many reports state that the act of getting away from your desk has a myriad of benefits for the mind and body. It’s even better if you can exit the workplace and enter a wholly different environment. When we stay put, we often filter through new emails, answer colleagues’ questions, and field calls. We need a clean break - a breathing period, even if it is only for ten minutes. Wellness and productivity can go hand in hand.

The Benefits Of Taking Lunch Away From The Desk

Besides the fact that our workspaces are incredibly dirty even without the additional sandwich crumbs, our brains need time out. Pay attention to the afternoon slump (aka 3.30itis); notice how it distracts your mind and wills the eyes to shut. However, taking a midday break will stimulate the mind once again and help prepare for a productive afternoon. By getting outside or sitting in a different area (i.e. away from the desk and computer), our alertness is aroused, and other parts of the brain are exercised. It refreshes us and lets new ideas in before heading back to the grind. Once we are back, we are better prepared to tackle the issues the afternoon might bring.

Not only does it help our attentiveness, but time away from the computer can aid in concentration. Our eyes become tired and sore from the screen, and our energy fades, so we look for little distractions: Instagram, Google, anything else. Studies have shown that shorter, more intense periods of work are beneficial for overall productivity. Lunch outside is a welcome excuse to work harder, faster and more efficiently.

Next, don’t neglect the effect that a quick break can have on your mood. No one wants to be known as the crabby colleague, and a simple pause can take the edge off a little. Even if the day is gruelling, the to-do list is endless, and the hits keep coming, lunch away from your desk will help revive your spirit - at least a little. You might even come up with a few groundbreaking ideas with the necessary time-out. What’s more, use the lunch break as a time to connect with workmates and build relationships. A happy team makes for a more enjoyable work environment, after all.

Why not wake up the brain and squeeze in a few extra daily steps? After sitting all day - which doesn’t come without its own set of long-term side-effects - using your lunch break as a time to take a brisk walk (and eat, of course) is beneficial in more ways than one. Exercise awakens the mind; letting oxygen flow to the brain. This freedom can help us think clearer, stimulate other areas of the brain, and encourage new, creative ideas. It’s also a sure-fire way to improve your mood (particularly when receiving a hit of Vitamin D) and destress. Return refreshed, satisfied, and rearing to go; consider it a form of self-care.

Lastly, eating away from the desk promotes the art of mindful eating. We are more likely to inhale our food without properly chewing or appreciating the meal if we are multitasking. When we take the time to slow down, chew, and enjoy the flavours, we are better satiated overall. You’re less likely to reach for the sweet snacks later in the afternoon, and you may even eat less. Indigestion, bloating, and heartburn are undesirable side effects of eating while on the job - the results of eating while stressed. For digestion to occur naturally and adequately, we need to be relaxed. Listen to your body.

The Impact Of COVID-19

Obviously, COVID-19 has changed the situation for many. Some of us are still working from home, which poses another set of stressors altogether. How do you take a proper lunch break when your house is your workplace, living area, and dining location?

Be just as purposeful in your approach to lunching at home as you would when in the office. See it as a necessary segment of the day - something that divides the morning from the afternoon and provides much-needed fuel. Schedule it on your calendar if that helps. Create an ideal lunch setting by carving out a space away from your pseudo-desk - maybe use a luscious placemat to solidify the change in scenery and avoid other screens where you can. Instead, grab a book or magazine, listen to a podcast or music, or simply sit and chill out.

Use the time to go for a walk around the block and clear your head. With fewer social interactions, the lunch break is also the ideal time to touch base with loved ones - a quick call to check in, catch up and completely distract from the work at hand. You might use a few minutes to learn a new skill (a language, an instrument, a craft technique) or do a few chores and life admin tasks.

It’s a weird new world we live in, but normalising lunch breaks and actively taking time away from the workstation is essential. Breaking up the mundanity, actively practising self-care and promoting a healthy balance is all but a lunchtime away.


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