If you’re anything like me, you know this scenario all too well….emails flying back and forth, voicemails and calls to return, multi-tasking at least two different urgent issues, putting out countless fires….then 12:00 rolls around and you think, “I’ll just do one more thing,” which turns into two or three things and by the time you look up it’s 12:50 and you don’t have time to eat, much less take a much-needed mental and physical break from work.
Well, govies (myself included) we need to stop this self-defeating and unhealthy practice! I know it’s tempting to think that we’re saving time or being more efficient by working through our lunches, but that’s just not the case. Skipping our lunch breaks may be hurting us more than we realize.
Here are three very important reasons we can’t afford to keep skipping our lunch breaks:
1. We need to refuel
It is so important to take mental and physical break from work, and our lunch time is the perfect venue for this. We need to reenergize and refresh our minds and bodies during this time so that we can come back to our work and responsibilities with more focus and clarity. Taking a walk during lunch, getting out of your office or cubicle, having lunch with a friend, listening to music, or simply reading a book can do wonders for your mind, body, and your attitude!
2. We need to unplug
Constant connection to technology may cause us to feel more overstimulated and stressed. When we are connected to technology we may be always on alert for the notifications and alerts that continually distract us and come through our various devices at all hours of the day (read more about the negative side affects of being over connected here and here). Let’s take a break from the constant attention required by our cell phones and iPads for at least a few minutes during the work day, and instead practice being peaceful, have a face-to-face conversation with a friend or colleague, or enjoy some quality alone time.
3. We can boost our creativity
A recent NPR article explained the startling truth that our creativity is in fact hindered when we skip lunch or eat lunch at our desk, day after day, with no change of scenery or environment. Changing our location, even if just for a short time during our lunch break each day, can spark innovation, creative thinking, and ultimately helping us do our jobs better.
The Challenge: The benefits of taking a lunch break – even if we can just carve out 20 minutes a day – far outweigh the negatives of working through lunch. Even if it’s just a few minutes and only two or three days a week, I challenge all of us govies to put our mental and physical health as top priority by taking our lunch breaks. Who’s with me?
In the comments below, please share 1) some ways that you have been able to prioritize your lunch breaks during the work day, and 2) what kind of benefits you have found from taking a break during work each day.
Christina Smith is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.