The importance of taking a lunch break
3.8 million Australian workers routinely don’t take a lunch break, with one in two of them saying it’s because they are ‘too busy’. - according to research published by The Australia Institute in 2013’s 'Hard to get a break paper'. Of those workers who do take their lunch break, 72% said they often cut it short, worked through or postpone their break. The three most common reasons people gave for skipping their break were: 1. They are too busy (48%), 2. They work part-time (21%) 3. Their workplace culture is to skip lunch (12%).
For both health and productivity purposes, studies have shown that breaks lead to higher productivity, greater job satisfaction, a more balanced emotional health, and a stronger desire to go above and beyond. Breaks are essential to employee morale.
Here’s why you should take a break at work:
Productivity - Working at your best for a shorter period is better than working at a reduced capacity for longer. Researchers in 2020 found even taking 40 second ‘microbreaks’ improved workers sustained attention.
Health - When it comes to sedentary work like working at a desk, injuries can be caused by poor posture over long periods. Sitting or standing in one position for too long causes muscle tension and can create painful knots. Similarly, staring at a computer screen for hours at a time has an impact on vision and can cause headaches. Simply walking around for a few minutes every hour can help you refocus and give your body a break.
Improve creativity - Spending too many hours with your nose to the grindstone can do more harm than good when it comes to creativity. Taking a few strategic breaks throughout the day will give your mind a chance to develop the solutions you’re looking for organically.
Boost employee engagement - Having a company culture that encourages breaks at work can help improve engagement and job satisfaction. People that take lunch breaks are 7% more likely to say, “I am as effective and efficient as I would like to be.
Mental Health - taking breaks during the workday can also reduce stress, improve mental health, and maintain a healthy work-life balance. All of these things tie into employee engagement and job satisfaction. Regular downtime during the day supports mental health. Breaks can help reduce anxiety, stress, and fatigue.
Things to do during your lunch break at work:
Taking a walk will increase blood flow to your brain, improving memory and cognitive performance.
Talking to co-workers is a productive way to socialise, talk about any issues you may be having, get advice and de-stress.
Listening to music has been proven to improve motor and reasoning skills.
Eating brain boosting foods like fish, nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, avocado, blueberries, wholegrains and raw carrots can help you avoid an afternoon slump.
Getting a coffee. For people who get up between 6am-8am, the optimal time for coffee is between 9.30am - 11.30am and 1.30pm - 5.30pm.
Exercising at lunch is a great way to hit your fitness goals. Check if your employer has a fitness group or corporate gym discount.