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Improve Work Performance Just by Taking a Lunch Break

May 10, 2016 | Rachel Velishek, LPCC

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Lunch-break-productivity.jpgWould you like to increase productivity in the workplace? Keep your fingers on the keyboard, eyes focused on the screen? Because the more time you put in, the more you will get done, right?

That could not be a more inaccurate statement. Growing evidence suggests that taking regular breaks from mental tasks such as computer typing, can actually improve productivity and creativity and that skipping breaks may actually lead to stress and exhaustion.

In theory, working through a lunch break or eating at a desk would save time and be more efficient. In reality, this does not improve your work ethic and may even slow you down if you don’t take any time for yourself. You can improve work performance just by taking a lunch break.

Utilizing your lunch break to eat, clear your mind, and step away from the work tasks will allow your body to reenergize and be more productive for the rest of the day.  If you really want some positive change, try eating smart on your lunch break with healthy, energy boosting foods and you may avoid feeling that afternoon slump.

James A. Levine, professor of medicine at The Mayo Clinic, has completed studies which show that workers who remain sedentary throughout the day are impairing their health. “The design of the human being is to be a mobile entity,” says Dr. Levine, who also encourages walking or even standing while working and during meetings.

When it comes to productivity and concentration as individuals, we all have different capacity. Management should encourage employees to devise individually effective break routines, but with some guidelines: try working in an intense 15-minute burst, punctuated by breaks, in cycles that are repeated throughout the day. This techniques is effective because the thought process is not designed to be continuous says Dr. Levine.

Long hours do not mean good work- highly efficient, productive work is more valuable, and frequent breaks promote that.

Examples of de-stressing breaks:

  • Go for a walk around the building, even if it is just 5 minutes, but the fresh air will boost your mood instantly.
  • Socialize by eating in the designated employee lounge area. It would be most beneficial if you made a deal to not talk about work during your break. The break time should be relaxed, and friendly, allowing you an opportunity to escape from your office or desk.
  • Listen to fun music for a mood booster, I often suggest to patients to compose a list of their favorite music. Or, listen to calming music with some breathing exercises. Taking a few deep breaths can be done right in the office, but will not disrupt others only benefit yourself.

If you were to take a 8-10 hour road trip you would stop for fuel, stop for a break, a snack or just to get up and move. This is similar to the work day in sense that you cannot run for 8-10 hours without a pit stop.

Taking time to focus on yourself could be very valuable to your productivity level and your overall mental health. If you strive to make little adjustments like these, you should find yourself less stressed and more in control of your work environment. Remember breaks are there for a reason, so go take a lunch!

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