Eating lunch at your desk seems like a good idea. After all, you get more work done, show your coworkers how hard working you are, and you still eat enough to fuel the rest of your workday, right? Wrong. Here’s why you need to stop eating lunch at your desk.
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Besides maybe not being as productive as you think, eating lunch at your desk is not great for you. University of Tennessee of Chattanooga professor of industrial-organizational psychology Chris Cunningham told us what you’re missing out on by eating at your desk:
- A clean mental break from work: Physically stepping away from your work makes it easier to have a break in your day where you don’t think about work. You might feel like you’re missing out on time to GSD, but recharging can add to your productivity, too.
- Changing what our brains our focusing on: Rather than thinking about the work in front of you, or responding to email or chat messages, a change in scenery focuses your brain on a different environment.
- Socialising with coworkers or other people: Depending on your office culture, coworkers may or may not eat together, but if that’s common practice at your company, take advantage of lunch to build connections with your officemates. If your colleagues don’t eat lunch together, make plans with friends or family, if possible.
Cornell professor Kevin Kniffin, who has studied the effect of firehouse crews eating together, agrees that using lunch as a time to connect with colleagues can improve performance at work. Even if you don’t socialise during lunch (some people need alone time to recharge), you have a ton of options besides staying at your desk.
- Exercise and boost your energy: Get your blood (and creative juices) flowing by doing a lunchtime workout. Even just a stroll around the block or your office hallways or a little bit of stretching can boost your energy.
- Refresh with mindfulness: Do a couple minutes of meditation to clear your brain, or just eat mindfully.
- Do something you enjoy: Listen to your favourite artist, read a book, play a game on your phone, or do something else that brings you joy.
- Take care of personal tasks: Reserve your lunch break to take care of the things you need to get done for yourself. Whether that’s scheduling a long put off dentist appointment or catching up with a friend, save that time for yourself.
Lunch is about more than chowing down so you have enough calories to get through the rest of the day. Making it into an actual break provides several benefits that would be hard to accomplish by dining at your desk.
This story has been updated since its original publication.