Ask the Experts: Heidi Dening on the importance of a lunch break

Ask the Experts: Heidi Dening on the importance of a lunch break

Friday, November 16, 2018
/ By:
Heidi Dening

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I hardly ever take a lunch break at work in order to be as productive as possible, but I think it’s actually taking a toll on me. What is the best strategy for taking short breaks without limiting my ability to get my work done?

There is no doubt that getting away from your desk at lunchtime seems to be an ever-increasing difficulty. I mean, who can take a break when there are so many deadlines, and it is just as easy to eat food while replying to emails?

Common ‘justifications’ for mindlessly swallowing food while working are:

“I’m too busy.”

“I need to finish a report.”

“I’ve got too much to do.”

“I’m so behind.”

“I have to have this ready for a meeting this afternoon.”

“My inbox is sooooooo full.”

Have you ever heard yourself say these statements? We all have.

So why is it important to take a lunch break?

  1. Recharge your brain’s capacity – by giving your brain time to rest and recharge, your coping abilities will increase, as will your emotional intelligence, decision making skills, memory and focus.

  2. Improve physical health – by stepping away from work and nourishing your body, you will improve digestion, impact blood pressure and improve sleep.

  3. Stress management – it is impossible for anyone to work every minute of every day without eventually burning out. Taking breaks has a big impact on your ability to deal with work and life stress.

3 Ways To Make The Most of Your Lunch Break

  1. Something is better than nothing – even if it can only be for 15 minutes. If you haven’t taken a proper lunch break for a while, start by taking one a week for a couple of weeks and see how you feel. Once you are comfortable with the fact that you are still staying on top of your work, then add a second one.

  2. Natural light – getting outside into the natural light will have noticeable physical and mental benefits for you. Sunlight plays a part in releasing melatonin, which controls our daily day-night cycle (called our circadian rhythm). When this works well we have more energy in the day, and can sleep better at night.

  3. Set an alarm – put a recurring appointment in your calendar so this recharge time is scheduled and you don’t accidently work though it.

Having a lunch break has multiple physical, mental and productivity benefits for individuals, and this then has a ripple effect for the organisation they work in.

Leadership comes from the top, so it is important that a culture is created that encourages people to be healthy, happy and productive. This can only occur when they are not burnt out. Lunch breaks are a great way to prevent this.


Check out more expert advice on healthy habits related to our Nourishment, Mind, and Movement concepts as part of our new series, Ask the Experts!

Heidi is an award-winning workplace wellness consultant and speaker, and the CEO of Workable Wellness. With over 20 years experience in education and health, Heidi specializes in workshop programs and presentations that educate busy professionals on how to reduce their stress levels, strengthen their resilience, boost their productivity and business potential, and improve their vitality.