Lunch breaks, for some reason, are frowned upon in the US; but new research shows that taking a lunch break is actually good for your health. In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Dr. Chris Cunningham, Professor of Industrial-Organization and Occupational Health Psychology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga touts the benefits of the lunch break. He notes that concentrating on work can be draining to “psychological, social and material reserves.” Geez. I didn’t even know I had those, but I definitely want to keep them.
“Taking a lunch break away from the desk lets people separate themselves from the source of that drain,” according to Cunningham. By taking time to step away from the office and all the stressors that it contains, the body is given a chance to restore depleted resources during work hours, versus waiting to recharge at the end of the day. Cunningham also believes that connecting with colleagues and not talking about work can replenish and refresh.
I for one get a bit – um – cranky without any sort of sustenance in my system, so lunch really is good for me and for the other hundreds of people I encounter in my life. Especially those people driving next to me on the highway. Wow would I feel sorry for them if I skipped lunch. But I digress.
Even if you can push through until the end of the day without any real food to eat or any real people to talk with, maybe rethink your strategy. The next time your co-workers invite you to lunch, take them up on the offer! And if the boss frowns, remind him that you will be a happier, more productive employee after the break. Just don’t talk about the boss – that’s not good for your health – or your job security.