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June 21st, 2019 | Sterling

Take Back Your Lunch Break!

Group of people enjoying lunch together

When we go to sporting events as spectators we see athletes taking intermittent breaks and cooling down during half time. Even when you exercise, you know when your body needs a rest. For example, when you run five miles or do strenuous cardio exercises at the gym, you love the sweet relief of cooling down right after. What would be the impact of applying these rest and relaxation tactics to your office life? We’ve all been there, eating reheated leftovers at our desk to get one more email finished or go over that very important presentation one last time: the office version of running five miles. What about the office version of the walk-after? As much as we would like to think that dedicating our break to more work is beneficial to us, it’s really the opposite.

According to a survey, 20% of North American workers worry their bosses won’t think they are hardworking if they take regular lunch breaks, 13% worry their co-workers will judge them. Further, 38% of employees don’t feel encouraged to take a lunch break and 22% of North American bosses say that employees who take a regular lunch break are less hardworking. Yet, nearly 90% of North American employees claim that taking a lunch break helps them feel refreshed and ready to get back to work. In a world of multitasking and constantly trying to outperform, we forget that we need to rest and re-fuel. Our brains need to be rested to perform well, sufficient sleep and taking a break from screens are key integrals of our overall health. You wouldn’t let a 5-year-old watch TV for 8 hours straight, so why do you let yourself stare at a screen for that long?

An actual break is needed to improve your energy levels, work quality and overall health. Just because you can watch last night’s missed episode of your favorite show or scroll through your Facebook page, it doesn’t mean you should. Lunch breaks should be utilized to practice healthy habits to help better yourself and your performance during the day.

  • Eat! Lunch breaks aren’t for multitasking, they are for eating. Consuming a granola bar or a banana in between meetings doesn’t count (but it’s better than not eating at all). Try making lunch at home and bring it to work, showing off your cooking skills and allowing you to reconnect with yourself. Bringing some carrots to go with your sandwich is so much better than chips, if you forget your lunch opt for a healthier option (fast food lunch combos are great for your wallet, but nuggets mid-day will make you feel sluggish).
  • Get meditating – Everyone has those days where we can’t get away from our work long enough for a break. Take two minutes to walk to the water cooler and be mindful of your breathing, take deep breaths and stretch – you will feel better and hopefully a little more relaxed.
  • Get moving – If your office has a gym, use it! Twenty minutes of cardio can do wonders and it can increase energy levels significantly. If you don’t have access to a gym, go for a walk during your break and try to unplug your brain for that time, no tweeting allowed!
  • Get connected – Working at a large company, you might not know everyone at your office, try and change that. Schedule lunch with someone new in the break room, you will get to know people you work with and grow your network. If you have a meeting, suggest a lunch meeting instead. Take this opportunity to collaborate while getting your nutrients for the day.

These practices are certainly easier said than done, after all Rome wasn’t built in a day. Try adding them to your day once a week and gradually move towards every day. Maybe an hour out of your day is too much now, work your way up from ten minutes to twenty, then thirty. If you feel you will be singled-out for taking lunch breaks, talk to your HR team about supporting the importance of taking lunch breaks and creating an atmosphere where rest is encouraged. Talk to your boss about promoting these practices and get them in on the fun, be the lunch hero you want to see in your office!

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This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.