Why You Need to Take a Lunch Break

Carla Turchetti by Carla Turchetti on April 5, 2013
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It seems like there are never enough hours in the day for a small-business owner to get everything done. That’s why it’s tempting to work through lunch and grab a few snacks on the fly.

According to a survey by Right Management, 31 percent of North American workers say they frequently skip their lunch breaks. Another 34 percent do take a break but usually stay at their desks to eat. And the remaining 35 percent “almost always” go to lunch.

Here are a few reasons why you and your employees should join that last group and get away from your desks at lunchtime.

Afternoon Focus

Allowing yourself to take a break, clear your mind, and nourish your body will help invigorate you for what’s lies ahead.

“Our work schedule is modeled after a more European approach that leaves time for a relaxing lunch break, so employees don’t have to rush and they return to work feeling genuinely relaxed,” says Michael Marchese, founder and CEO of Tempesta Media, a digital content provider. “Taking care of ourselves helps us work smarter when we get back to the desk.”

Breaking for lunch also helps make the whole workday seem more manageable. Instead of anticipating hour after hour of labor, you can divide your schedule into two distinct “sessions” or blocks of time.

Healthier Habits

Planning to take a break and eat a meal at lunchtime leads to healthier choices. Whether it’s keeping foods on hand for a well-rounded brown bag lunch, bringing in leftovers, or surveying the menus of nearby sandwich and salad shops before venturing out, lunch becomes something to think about instead of a mindless grab for a bag of potato chips.

A regular lunch break may also include time for physical fitness.

Vannessa Wade, founder of  Houston-based Connect the Dots PR, encourages her staff to get outside and take walks together.

“I have made taking a walk a part of day-to-day operations,” Wade says. “This is the time to talk about anything but work. It shows active listening in a relaxing environment and reduces angst.”

And in Australia, lunch hour jogs are a growing trend among  executives looking for a midday break.

Team Building

For professionals who spend many solitary hours at work, a lunch break offers an opportunity to get out of the office, see what the rest of the world is doing, and shake off any feelings of isolation. Colleagues may find that lunching together or even preparing a meal together in the office break room functions as a team-building exercise.

So, when lunchtime rolls around today, resist the urge to keep powering through your to-do list and to fortify yourself with only that bag of stale pretzels you found in your desk drawer. Push your chair away from your desk — and go down the hall or across the street and enjoy a nutritious meal. You’ll be healthier and more productive for it.

Carla Turchetti

Carla Turchetti is a veteran broadcast, print and digital journalist who is passionate about small businesses and the stories behind them. Carla is a small-business columnist at the News & Observer, the regional daily newspaper in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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