No matter what field you’re in, or whether you’re entry level or a CEO, it’s true for a lot of workers that sometimes skipping your lunch break is easier than taking it. Whether it’s because you’re overworked or you have an odd schedule or you just forget, more and more people are frequently skipping lunch breaks so much that it’s becoming a habit. They’ll either munch on something at their desk while working, and sometimes even forget altogether.
I’ll be the first to admit that I used to be pretty bad about taking my lunch breaks; working from home and with no set hours aside from work I agreed to, it’s easy to want to work while munching on lunch to get more working hours in the day.
There’s a lot of good reasons not to skip your lunch break and to make sure you take it—even if it’s only 30 minutes. Making sure you take that time offers benefits that will can affect your mental and physical health, energy and productivity levels, and professional relationships.
Here’s the specifics…
1. You Actually Eat
In a world that’s constantly on the go, we are (as a society) skipping meals more and more. Americans in particular, as a whole, are generally lax about eating breakfast—combine that with skipping lunch and your body starts paying the price.
We’re snacking more and eating meals less; not only is this bad for our metabolism, it also means that a large number of us aren’t getting the nutrients we would if we had an actual meal (read: the nutrients we need). Snacking throughout the day can also lead to what I like to call “mindless munching,” causing us to consume way more calories than we intend.
2. Networking Opportunities Arise
Networking and building relationships is an important part of the working world, whether you’re a fan of it or not, and just because you’ve already got the job doesn’t mean that there’s no more work to be done. You likely won’t get promoted, after all, if your boss hasn’t seen that you have the social ability to move to a higher position.
Building interpersonal relationships both with clients, industry peers, coworkers, and supervisors are an important part of success within a workplace, and taking your lunch break can help you do just that. Going to lunch with coworkers or clients, or even eating packed lunched in the cafeteria or outside, can help build those relationships that can be crucial towards success.
3. It Gives You a Mental Break
Mental breaks are good for you; by preventing you from getting burnt out, they help you stay refreshed and give you time to recharge. Psychologists have found that people actually work best in 90 minute spurts with a break in between, so taking a substantial break halfway through the day can do you a lot of good.
A good chunk of time away from work will give you time to reboot and be ready for the rest of the day, making you significantly more productive in the process.
4. It Breaks Up the Day
Which sounds better—four hours until lunch, or eight hours until you go home? It seems like a small reason, but it’s all about perspective (think glass half full or half empty). It’s easier to be more productive and more positive when you mentally divide your work day into manageable chunks, keeping it from seeming overwhelming and never-ending.
The lunch break is the hallway mark, and having a substantial break to look forward to will make the whole day seem like it’s going faster.
5. You Can Get Some Exercise
This doesn’t automatically happen just by you taking your lunch break, but you get the chance to get up and get some exercise. Even if you’re just heading to an eating area or break room or just walking around to stretch your legs, taking a few minutes to get the blood flowing is good for both your mental and physical health—short term and long term.
6. Get New Ideas
Even when we aren’t actively thinking about a problem we’re dealing with, one portion of our brain is working on a solution in the background. By taking a break and walking away from overthinking something, you’ll be surprised how you can get new ideas either during the break or because of it. You’ll come back to your desk more relaxed and refreshed, and you’ll be able to take on complicated or frustrating problems, and you’ll be more likely to find a solution.
7. Change of Scenery
While some people can nest into their office space or cubicles with no problem, I’m not one of them—and many people are like me. If I’m stuck in one setting for too long, I get a little restless, and I need to get up and work somewhere else.
Leaving your immediate workspace for lunch will force you to stop working (at least physically), and can prevent restlessness caused by sitting in one place for too long (read: going stir crazy).
It’s better for you physically, mentally, and socially to make sure you aren’t skipping your lunch break, with both immediate and long term beneficial results. With these 7 reasons not to skip your lunch break, it’s easy to see how important it is to find time every day—even if it’s just 30 minutes.
Is taking a lunch break a priority for you? How do you maximize the time on your break?