Most of us in the workforce are probably guilty of skipping a lunch break from time to time. When a deadline is approaching and the Zoom meetings feel endless, it's easy to forget the importance of taking a midday break. Whether we're eating a well-balanced meal or a package of mini powered doughnuts we found at the bottom of our desk drawer, if we're eating in front of the computer it's not actually a "break." It's just lunch.
We tell ourselves that we need to "get ahead" on our work, that if we take a moment to pause, we will fall behind. But in fact, it's been proven that consistently taking a lunch break every day can actually revolutionize your workflow and make you far more productive. Allow us to break it down for you.
Stepping Away From Your Work Helps You Maintain Focus
2 out of 3 millennials are missing out on the benefits of lunch by not taking a proper break, according to a study conducted by the California Walnut Board & Commission. While they may be eating, they aren't fully disconnecting from their workspace. Instead, they're either continuing to work or redirecting their energy towards scrolling through social media or checking the news. (Guilty.)
It may seem counterintuitive that stepping away from your work can actually increase your focus and energy towards the projects that you're working on, but in 2011 researchers proved that "prolonged attention to a single task actually hinders performance." Think about the times when you've spent hours combing over a report. You were sure it was perfect. Then, after you've submitted it, you realize that you made a seemingly obvious mistake. This is because your brain loses focus after spending too much uninterrupted time on one task.
In a way, lunch breaks were tailor-made to prevent this fuzziness from creeping in. Whether you choose to spend your time eating or not, those 30-60 minutes spent away from your work will give your brain the time it needs to recharge, thus improving the quality of your work during the second half of the day.
Food Isn't Just Fuel for Your Body - It's Fuel for Your Brain, Too
The hustle and bustle of modern grind culture means that we are often socialized to prioritize the quickest meal or snack choice to get us through the day. However, taking the time to eat a balanced meal is super important, not just for your body but for your mind as well.
Think of it like this: our brain is one big organ and food is its fuel. To prevent that inevitable post-lunch crash and brain fog, try planning your meal before lunch rolls around and pick foods that are high in antioxidants and nutrients rather than sugar and fat.
Fast lunch options may feel more efficient but according to the Harvard Business Review, when "we save 10 minutes now, [we] pay for it with weaker performance the rest of the day." So, your brain and your body will thank you the next time you take your full lunch break.
Lunch Time = "Me Time"
Perhaps the most important reason for prioritizing a full lunch break is because well, you deserve it. Self-care is not selfish and for all that you dedicate to your job, you deserve to dedicate to yourself as well.
Whether you do some light exercise, meditation, or just change up your environment by going to a different room, science has proven that investing in yourself every day is investing in your future work as well. So, set out those walking shoes, prep your nutritious meal, and get ready to reacquaint yourself with your new best friend - lunch time.