If your idea of a lunch break is staring at your Twitter feed while scarfing down a chicken sandwich, you’re not alone. That’s actually how the majority of people spend the supposedly sacred lunch hour. In fact, only one in five people will actually take a midday break, according to an article on NPR. This insanity has to end now. We work hard and we deserve to actually give ourselves a break in the middle of the day. Read on to find out why you should always take your lunch break.
1. You'll Stay Focused
The research doesn’t lie: a 2011 University of Illinois study found that we need to take breaks in order to pay attention to whatever we’re working on. So you definitely need a lunch break in order to keep your focus for the rest of the afternoon. Getting away from your desk will be especially helpful if you’re struggling with a project or unable to come up with any ideas for your meeting this afternoon. We all perk up in the morning once we’ve had our coffee and start our work, and then get tired as the day progresses. If you take your lunch break, though, you’ll actually wake yourself up and that will do wonders for your focus.
So, go ahead, step away from the computer, and take a break. We promise nothing bad will happen.
Being more focused means you’ll make fewer mistakes. We all make mistakes sometimes – we’re only human, after all. But you’re much more likely to seriously screw up at the office if you never take a break and stare at your computer from 9 to 5. If you care about impressing your boss and clients (and you probably do), then you owe it to yourself to take a real break. You’ll return to your assignments and projects with fresh eyes and will be able to catch any typos or issues before someone else does.
2. You'll Be Healthier
Picture this: you arrive at the office, plant your butt in your uncomfortable desk chair, and don’t move for eight whole hours. Sound familiar? It probably does. Thanks to what many are calling the “sitting disease”, experts are getting pretty worried about all the sitting that we tend to do during the day. Of course, we have to work for a living (you know, we need money for food and shelter and all that), and we usually work sitting down, but that just means you definitely need to take your lunch break. Your health will thank you because you’ll be able to get outside and go for a walk. Getting some exercise in the middle of the day is always an amazing idea.
You’ll also get much healthier because taking a break enables you to grab a green juice from the corner café or find a takeout salad. It’s much smarter than running out of time to grab lunch because you can’t pull yourself away from your desk and then grabbing potato chips and a chocolate bar from the vending machine at 2 o’clock.
3. You'll Be More Social
Sure, you can get by just fine staying confined to your little cubicle and totally ignoring your coworkers, but where would be the fun in that? Don’t you want to at least be civil towards the people that you work with? Unless you’re a monster, you probably like at least one of them. If you take your lunch hour, you can head to the break room and chat with your coworkers. Who knows? You might even become best friends with some of them… or can at least hope one of them will say nice things to your boss about you. It’s good to always be thinking ahead.
4. You'll Cross Things Off Your To-Do List
Unless your boss is truly evil, you’re allowed to get out of the office for an hour every day. Take advantage of it, and use the time to run errands so you can cross some items off your ever-growing to-do list. You’ll feel so much better and more in control of your life when you have time to mail that birthday card to your relative in California or pick up some chicken soup to bring to your sick boyfriend or girlfriend who’s sitting at home. Or, since the holidays are approaching, you can use your lunch break to get some Christmas shopping done early. You’ll be in a much better mood about getting some things done that have nothing to do with work, and you’ll then be able to return to your desk with a smile.
5. You'll Feel Less Stressed
Life is pretty stressful these days, and work is no exception. Many of us are completely overworked, exhausted, and stressed every single day of the week. If you actually take your lunch break, your stress levels will go way down. Why? Because by taking an hour off, you won’t be working throughout lunch, and that means you’ll work less. We all desperately need to cut down on our workloads, and taking an hour off is a good way to do so.
6. You'll Avoid the Afternoon Slump
You know the one – when you’re suddenly so tired, you could seriously fall asleep right this second. You can experience that slump when you don’t take a lunch break because you’re eating at your desk and not moving. But if you take a break, you’ll return feeling a million times better.
7. You'll Be More Creative
You can’t be creative when you stay in one place the entire day. With a lunch break, you give yourself the opportunity to open your mind and feel freer. You’ll also have an easier time making decisions – and we all know how many decisions we make at the office on a regular basis. Think of it like this: when your body is stuck, your mind is stuck, too.
8. You'll Make it Work for You
We all have parts of our jobs that we don’t exactly enjoy. If your office culture is such that no one leaves their desk for lunch, you might get some negative feedback from your boss for taking off every day. You can make it work for you, though, and keep your job (and your boss’ approval). Mention to your boss that you have some brainstorming to do or client phone calls to make, and that you find you think better when you get some fresh air and are away from the hustle and bustle of the office environment. Say you would like to take at least half an hour as your lunch break every day. You can prove that it’s worth it when you show them everything you’ve accomplished. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. If your boss is still unconvinced, then offer to help them out: you can stay at work half an hour later, for example, and assist them on an important project.
See Also: How to Keep Fit During Your Lunch Break
If you’ve been telling yourself you have way too much work to take a lunch break, it’s time to change. Now that you know why you should always take your lunch hour, you have no excuses left. You’ll be happier, more productive, more focused, healthier, and more creative. Doesn’t that sound awesome?
Are you the one of five people who takes their lunch break every day, or are you one of the other four who work through their lunch break? Let us know in the comments section below!