It’s very common now to sit at our desks and work during our lunch hour. What ever happened to going out for lunch with our co-workers or joining our friends in the cafeteria for an hour? We have so much to accomplish during our work day that we sometimes feel entitled to sit at our desk and get as much work done as we can. Job satisfaction and increased productivity has been linked to grabbing a bite to eat with our co-workers or sitting in the workplace cafeteria.
I am very grateful to be able to work from home. Even though I work very long hours, I set my own hours so I can fit all the things I love into my day. I wasn’t always this way though. Sometimes, I would sit at my desk and work away for hours without taking a break but now I’ve learned to balance everything. It took me a while to find that balance, but I did it.
Here are five great reasons to leave your desk at lunch.
1. Helps with digestion – Food is meant to be enjoyed so why not take the time to enjoy eating food with your co-workers or even yourself. Chewing our food is an essential part of digestion. When you sit at your desk, you are so busy trying to meet deadlines and get caught up on work that you tend to eat fast and swallow large chunks of food. When your food makes contact with saliva, it helps lubricate the food, making it easier for food to pass through the esophagus. Why is this important? Our saliva contains enzymes that aid to the chemical process of digestion. When we are with friends or co-workers, we are socializing, and we take longer to eat our food as we are slowing down the digestion process.
2. Our bodies are meant to move – If you work outside of the home, on average, most people spend about 8 hours at their place of work and about one hour commuting to and from work. If you don’t get up to eat for lunch and are driving to work, that is 10 hours of sitting. That’s a long time to not be moving. Even if you are active and go to the gym at night or in the morning, sitting is bad for the body and we need to break up our sedentary behavior. Your lunch hour is a great time to get up and move around. You can take your lunch and go for a walk outside, or take the stairs to the cafeteria. If you finish you lunch early, spend 15 – 20 minutes just walking up and down the stairs which is a workout in itself. Getting up from our desk also allows us some time to stretch out the body, reducing the chances of joint and back pain.
3. Get more creative – A lot of our creativity can be discovered while we are up and moving around. Go for a walk and let your mind wander which can bring in a flood of new ideas and provide you with a new perspective. Time away from the desk allows us to relax our bodies and brains and refocus our efforts on being more productive in the afternoon. It can relieve stress and fatigue which can allow for more creativity to get in.
4. Get social – Schedule a date with your significant other or meet up with an old friend at lunch. This provides people with a chance to bond with their friends and co-workers and learn to work better as a team. The social value of getting away from the desk during a lunch break can help improve employee morale. It’s also a great time to spend ‘face time’ with a friend instead us hiding behind our phones and social media.
5. Create more energy – By the middle of the afternoon, fatigue can settle in and your performance for the rest of the day. Learn to connect with nature and reduce your stress level by going outside. Even if the temperatures are cold and there is snow on the ground, you are still being active and you can get in your daily dosage of vitamin D and fresh air. Go to the store over your lunch hour and browse through the aisles so that your body is still moving but your mind is re-focused on other things. A change of scenery is great for the mind, body, and soul.
Tomorrow’s Task: Schedule a lunch with a co-worker or friend and get out of the office at a nearby park where you can go for a walk. If you live in a cold climate, then go to the cafeteria to eat your lunch and then walk around the building or up and down the stairs for 20 minutes.
When did we stop talking to people? We are addicted to our smart phones and computer screens. We live in a world where we need instant gratification and responses right away. What ever happened to taking time for ourselves during the day? I have to admit, I was addicted to keeping my emails and social media platforms open during the day. I didn’t want to miss anything. Now, I schedule time to read my emails throughout the day and only spend a certain amount of time on social media. I feel this balance has not only helped me mentally but I am more productive. I tell people that if you need to reach me and it’s important, pick up the phone and call me. It actually works and it’s been a huge time saver for me. Now with all of this time I’m saving but not reading and responding to emails right away, I’m able to spend that extra time on other things.
If you are one of those people who just can’t pry yourself away from the computer screen, set an alarm to notify you when it’s time to get up and move around. After a few weeks of doing this, you won’t need to rely on the alarm and it will become part of your daily routine.
Art & Maureen