We are all entitled to a lunch break at work; however, many of us fail to take our full time allowance and many of us do not leave our desk even when we take time to eat lunch. Not taking a proper lunch break can have negative consequences for our health and wellbeing and can impact productivity.
Research by Mastercard and Ipsos Mori has revealed that less than one in five workers take a full one-hour break at lunchtime; in fact, most of us make do with a mere 28 minutes. Worryingly, 70% of office workers do not even leave their workplace at lunchtime.
With our culture for working long hours becoming the norm, it is not hard to see why many workers have fallen into the trap of not taking a proper lunch break. Although it may seem that you are being more productive by carrying on working at your desk during lunch, the reality is probably the opposite.
If you do not take time out to take your eyes off a computer and refresh your mind and body, your health may end up suffering. Burnout, fatigue, stress and depression are all consequences of overdoing it in the workplace. Those who do take a break come back to their desk feeling replenished and motivated to get going again, improving productivity and less likely to make mistakes.
Taking a proper lunch break requires some determination and planning. You need to get into the mindset of refusing to take work on prior to lunchtime and accepting that you are entitled to take this break without feeling guilty. If a colleague asks you to do something at this time, simply tell them you will complete it after lunch.
It is much easier to ensure you take a lunch break if you have something planned. Whether this is meeting friends or colleagues for lunch or having a quick workout at the gym, something in your diary for lunchtime means you are more likely to take a break and not get stuck at your desk.
Try to think of a lunch break as being good for both yourself and your employer. By taking a break you are resting your mind and will feel on top form again once you return to your desk. Equally, if you spend time out with colleagues, your lunch break can be a great bonding experience and can help to forge better workplace relationships.
If you feel that taking a full lunch break will leave you lagging behind with your work, question why this is the case. Do you need to become more organised with your tasks, could you simplify elements of your role to make life easier, or are you simply being overworked? If you are having too much work pushed onto you, speak to your employer directly and try to negotiate a better way of getting your tasks completed during your working hours.
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