Whether you’re at the office or working from home, the lunch “hour” is hardly a real reprieve. Most of us quickly scarf down a salad to maximize our daily output. In fact, a study by OfficeTeam, an administrative staffing company, found that 56 percent of employees who can take an hour for lunch actually take less than 30 minutes—and almost one-third admit to working while they eat.
If you're worried that your new, solitary lunch isn't quite the same break as grabbing a bite with colleagues, don't: a November 2019 study by the Yale School of Management found that those who ate lunch with coworkers were as fatigued by day’s end as those who worked through lunch, while those who ate lunch by themselves were the most relaxed. So, step away from your computer and ditch the deskside dining. Here's why career, wellness and productivity experts say uninterrupted lunch breaks are a necessity—not a guilt-inducing luxury.
Skipping won't earn you any favors.
“Bosses don’t give bonuses for working through your lunch break. Take what you’re given and make the most of it.”
—Caleb Backe, certified life coach and wellness expert, Maple Holistics
Your brain works better.
“A break of at least 20 minutes can help you find balance in the day and sharpen you for the rest of your afternoon. Taking a walk, listening to a podcast or reading a book can be a shot of ‘me time’ a lot of working moms can’t get after work, which helps restore your brain power.”
—Julie Morgenstern, author of Time to Parent
It's a mood booster.
“Getting up and walking around a bit increases blood flow and makes you think more clearly. You’ll also feel better if you walk outside during your break each day.”
—Stacy Caprio, business coach
You'll get more done.
“Enjoying your lunch improves your productivity and increases your brain activity; we are more creative when we get back to our desks.”
—Sara Curto, career management specialist
It decreases distractions.
“Getting a chance to answer personal emails, set up doctor appointments and make a grocery list means you won’t be distracted by these personal tasks while working.”
—Carley Childress, CEO, Macorva, an employee-engagement platform
You'll be a less-stressed mom.
“Your lunch break is often the only time that you get to yourself. Rushing it or working through it means your nervous system doesn’t relax, which drains you. You become less efficient, and you’ll feel more stressed when you get home to see your kids.”
—Bianca Riemer, certified health and life coach
It'll help balance your day.
"Have you ever experienced that '2 p.m. feeling'—yawns, energy crash, and cravings for you next pick-me-up? This feeling is directly related to what you've had for lunch. If we don’t eat enough throughout the day, we tend to make up for it later. So if you’ve skipped lunch, but then overdo it on evening snacks, there’s a biochemical reason as to why this happens. Focus on your mid-day meal and you’ll be less likely to overindulge at night."
—Dr. Brooke Scheller, Freshly's director of nutrition
It prompts problem-solving.
“Distancing yourself from your work gives room for insights and different ways of thinking—as well as time to come up with better responses to emails and colleagues.”
—Charlie Gilkey, business growth advisor, Productive Flourishing
Written by Quinn Fish for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.
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