Did you know that 1 in 3 workers skip lunch due to stress?
I want you to imagine sitting at your desk with too much work an not enough time, resenting everything and everyone. Not only are you stressed, and angry – your hungry too.
The most sensible thing would be to give your brain and body a break and rest. Take a half hour or more for lunch. Why is this such a difficult thing to do for some people and not others?
The thinking around taking a lunch break is usually that it will slow you down. Believing that more will get done by sitting at your desk hammering away at the computer.
Bad news, you will be less productive. You need breaks to be more productive and happy. Yes, I said the word happy. You need to slow down to speed up
Look at what stress is doing to your brain
When you become stressed, the left side of your brain which is responsible for decision making, memory, language and problem solving quite literally starts to shut down. Yet, your right side which is primarily responsible for your emotions, does not shut down. Imagine that.
How do you think you will be reacting at work with only 40% of your left brain available?
Firstly, you will be less productive because your decision making skills will slow down. And to boot, you will be more emotionally reactive.
To add insult to injury you will forget a lot of what your supposed to be doing because your short term memory is not fully available, and you will be making more mistakes.
And you will be doing quite a bit of jibber jabbering and rambling.
Not taking a lunch break increases stress.
Let me continue with the bad news.
When you become stressed, cortisol the stress hormone is released into the body. Cortisol will start to slow down the insulin production, so the glucose in your body is reserved ready for you to fight or run. As if somebody is out to kill you. And, lets face it most of the time nobody is out to kill you at work. The glucose will automatically start to increase your levels of cholesterol. Can you start to see the link between heart disease and stress? Is it really worth not taking a few minutes break?
If you are at all vain, like me, cortisol also breaks down collagen, so you will eventually start to look older than your years. Now, its really not worth it.
Being glued to your computer for so long is really not a good idea because it also increases the cortisol levels in your body.
When you step away from your desk, remove yourself from the computer and go outside to eat your lunch mindfully and quietly, the left side of your brain starts to switch back on very slowly. And, you will increase the endorphin’s in your body which can help you feel just that little bit happier. This means you will be able to concentrate and focus much more on your tasks. As well as be less irritated with everyone and yourself.
Taking regular breaks is your responsibility and requires discipline as well as motivation. This allows you to have enough energy left at the end of your working day for yourself and your family or whatever you want to devote your energy to.
Here are 7 quick tips to help you take a break
- 1Pencil a lunch break into your diary or block the time out on your computer diary even if this means you write “meeting”
- 2If you work from home, taking a lunch break as well as regular breaks is just as important. Take some time away from the home preferably outside.
- 3If you are having your lunch and that same annoying person interrupts you, set a boundary by stating ” no, not now.”
- 4Physically move away from your desk and take a walk. This takes discipline and motivation. Perhaps you could encourage some of your team to go for lunch. You could even set the office trend for lunch. It just takes one person to do something different consistently for some others to eventually follow.
- 5Try to move away from your computer every hour. Perhaps download a computer program that flashes “take a break” on the hour as a reminder.
- 6If you have a culture of not taking breaks, remember you make up the culture and you can change what you do.
- 7If you are a manager, please bear in mind when you do not take your breaks some, but not all of the people you manage may be fearful or feel guilty for taking their breaks. Which could add to their stress levels
So, you see lunch is really not a wimpy thing to do.