Take a break!

Why is it so important to take a lunch break?


Everyone knows how important keeping up a healthy lifestyle and diet leads to a more productive and happy person. But what we don’t tend to think of is that how and where you eat plays a big part too!

Most of us do or have done it in the past; ‘Grabbing a quick sarnie’ while getting that urgent report finished seems like the only available option when pushed for time at work. However, a recent study has shown that while it saves time in the short term, it will affect your productivity later on in the day.

The study, undertaken by the University of Toronto, assessed the lunch break habits of office workers. It found that as much as a third of people studied missed lunch altogether at least once a week. Furthermore, they found that the lack of a significant lunch break lead to tiredness and subsequently a distinct lack of productivity.

In the UK too, the trends are similar. A recent survey by Reed.co.uk found that a massive 68% of us don’t take the fully allotted time for lunch.

The Science!

But how and why does the lack of a break damage our productivity? Well, every second of the day we spend at work, gradually eats in our psychological and emotional energy in having to control our behaviour and performance in a certain way. We are also expected to perform at the peak of our powers with deadlines and targets to be hit, draining that energy still further.

Such pressures, lead our body to release the hormone cortisol, making us far more susceptible to tiredness and illness.  Therefore, our mind and body naturally need a break; after all we’re not robots! Lunch is the perfect time not just to refuel, but to mentally recharge, ideally completely away from your work, to get yourself ready for the afternoon.

This was supported by a study in 2013 that found getting out of your work environment for even a short time, significantly boosted cognitive output and capacity compared to staying in a single environment.

What are the options?

Despite the evidence it is difficult to drag yourself away from your desk, feeling almost guilty with all your colleagues still busily working away. However the bottom line is, tired workers are less productive. Here are a few basic ideas for helping you feel fresh throughout the day:

1.)    Small regular breaks (if permitted by the employer!) will help to keep you feeling bright and motivated throughout the day

2.)    Take your full break away from your work environment to recharge your mind, maybe meet a friend for lunch

3.)    Diarise your break to make sure nothing gets in the way