Take Back Your Lunch Break!
Most of us give our employers our all, day in and day out, often putting in lots of extra hours to get things done. At some point, the standard 40-hour workweek began going considerably beyond 40 hours in many industries. And in addition to coming in early or staying late, it has become commonplace to work straight through your lunch break.
But this is not a healthy way to live, working 50 or 60 hours or more every week with barely a break during the day. In fact, a 2013 survey by staffing firm Right Management shockingly found that less than 20 percent of American workers typically leave the office during lunch.
Despite what’s considered “normal” for your workplace, we’re here to remind you that it is essential to take that lunch hour—or even a half hour on especially busy days—to benefit yourself and your employer as well. Celebrate National Take Back the Lunch Break Day on June 15th with your fellow employees and continue this good habit moving forward.
Here are five reasons why you need your lunch break:
1. Expose Yourself to Natural Light
After spending hours indoors where the only source of light is rows of LEDs and maybe a single window that probably has its shade partially drawn to prevent computer glare, it is a pleasure to see a blue sky and feel the sun’s rays. Lack of sufficient sun exposure is associated with depression and seasonal affective disorder. It’s also essential to get daily exposure to UV light to enable the body to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D, which contributes to bone health and the optimal functioning of muscles and the immune system. And yes, you can get important UV-rays through normal window glass.
2. Get in a Good Workout
One of the main excuses people offer for failing to exercise regularly is not having the time to work out. But you can start putting your lunch break to use to fulfill your daily quota of physical activity. Join a nearby gym and squeeze in a workout. Take a half-hour walk around the neighborhood. Go to a local park, bring a yoga mat and some resistance bands, and go to town on stretching and strengthening. Or just work the stairs in your office building for 20 minutes. Plus, regular exercise was shown in a 2010 study at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina to increase immunity and help you avoid sick days.1
3. Savor the Taste of Your Food Rather Than Rushing Through the Meal
When you’re eating distractedly, such as while you check your emails or finish your report, you hardly taste the food and are more likely to overeat. Conversely, when you take a little time to truly focus on your meal, you not only enjoy it much more, but you are more likely to notice your body’s signals and stop eating when you begin feeling full. Don’t subject yourself to the often high-calorie, super-large portions at restaurants; instead, bring a healthy lunch from home. But eat it picnic-style on a park bench if you can or even just in your company’s break room to get away from your desk for a little while. Go solo if you’re in the mood to read or simply think, or invite some co-workers to join you if you’re feeling more social.
4. Enjoy Some Meditation Time
Mindfulness meditation is a valuable way to clear your mind of all the day’s problems, center yourself, and simply be in the moment. Studies have found that it can boost your mood and relieve anxiety. And you only need 10 minutes to start achieving benefits from meditation. Just find a quiet spot removed from the hustle and bustle of your office, sit comfortably, and start focusing on your breathing.
5. Give Your Eyes a Break
Nowadays, most of us are employed in positions that require the use of a computer throughout the day. That often means staring at a screen for hours on end, which has been associated with a variety of eye problems collectively known as computer vision syndrome and includes pain and eye strain. Give your eyes a much-needed break every hour by focusing on a point in the distance for a few minutes and let them really relax with no screen time at all during lunch. Oh, and stop checking your phone as well during your break and instead try one or more of the above suggestions to enrich your body and soul.
- 1. Nieman, David C.; et al. "Upper respiratory tract infection is reduced in physically fit and active adults." British Journal of Sports Medicine. 1 November 2010. Accessed 30 May 2018. http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2010/09/30/bjsm.2010.077875?sid=fe62a8c5-430b-4506-b854-20b62e8a5e9e.