We all know that eating lunch at your desk isn’t good for you, but yet we still do it. Despite the increasing number of workplace wellness programs out there, most of us can’t resist staying at our desks to get a few extra emails out at lunch.
With so much to do in a few hours, working and eating at the same time seems like a stellar idea to kill two birds with one stone. But is it? Not everyone has the luxury of taking a break to eat.
And this is further complicated by the fact that not all companies have a set lunch break time where all tools are put down for everyone to enjoy their sandwich.
However, staying at your desk all day can decrease your productivity and increase stress levels. Furthermore, sitting for long periods of time can cause a whole host of health issues including back pain, leg disorders, and increased risk of heart disease.
In short, getting up every once in a while is important for both mental and physical health. Here’s a list of reasons to skip eating lunch at your desk to take an actual break.
1. Increased long-term health risks
Eating lunch at your desk means you’ll stay seated longer, and sitting for long periods of time can make you sick in more ways than one. As the Washington Post notes, sitting for hours on end can cause increased risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. It can also shift your pancreas into overdrive – causing diabetes and other diseases since sedentary muscles don’t react well to insulin. In other words, if you don’t leave your desk to eat lunch, you could be taking a whole lot more time off from work in the long run.
2. You’re sitting down for too long
It is not uncommon to hear that some people work for 15 continuous hours or more in a day. And sadly, this involves a lot of sitting down looking at computer screens.
And when you get home, chances are you will be spending most of your time sitting at home watching TV. Before you know it, you are walking less and spending most of your time sitting down. You need to walk and stretch. Use your lunch break to walk and enjoy some natural light outside.
3. Sore joints
Beyond longer-term health problems, you could be seeing more short-term pain if you decided to eat lunch at your desk. Staying seated longer while staring at your computer screen can lead to tension in your muscles and sore joints. Sitting for long periods of time also weakens your hip and core muscles, which can cause problems elsewhere in your body.
If you absolutely must stay at your desk, don’t forget to do a few stretches and exercises to help counteract the effects of sitting all day.
4. You risk spillage
It is almost impossible to eat a cookie or a juicy apple without creating a mess. And this is why some companies strongly prohibit eating at the desk because, inevitably, some crumbs or drops of fruit juice will end up where they are not supposed to.
And if you happen to be those people who do not clean up after themselves, this may lead to a dirty working station and may soon attract insects or even mice. This is also not a good professional image.
5. Reduced productivity
If multitasking is your game, think again. No matter how good you think you are at the artful dance of sipping coffee, eating salad, and continuing to read and type, multitasking still isn’t as effective as focusing on one thing at a time.
As Fast Company states, “even if we think we’re awesome at multitasking, we’re actually terrible at it. Because quality work is deep work, and deep work is free of distraction. Sandwiches included.”
6. You will burnout
Those few minutes away from your machine to catch your breath and grab a cup of coffee really do come in handy. This helps you to take that much needed break to decompress and refresh. This helps you focus more when you get back to work.
Failure to do so is a sure way to get a burn out. Switch off your work mode and work with achievable targets, then reward yourself by taking a break and going for a walk.
7. Increased stress
The reason you hate your job could be because you are doing it all wrong. Yes, work can be stressful, and this is why you need that lunch break to disconnect for a few minutes.
This will help you feel much better and will show in your productivity. Take some time to recover by going outside to enjoy your pasta and maybe take a power nap if you can to recuperate.
8. Brain fog
The reason you really need to go outside to eat and enjoy some sunlight is to pump fresh blood and oxygen into your body. Sitting at your desk all day will not have a significant impact on how much progress you have made.
Once the energy in your body is used, there is nothing you can do, and you will become less effective as your brain starts to function at a much slower rate because it needs a break and some rest.
9. Missing out on inspiration
While eating lunch at your desk can cause extra stress and diminished productivity, the monotony can also lead to lack of creativity and new ideas. Getting out every once in awhile can give you the time you need to work through tough problems that come up. Conversely, if you stay at your desk to eat, you’re more likely to continue staring at your screen in frustration.
Inc suggests eating lunch alone every once in awhile, just to help recharge one’s batteries. It’s also important to stay away from your phone as the absence of external stimulation can spur creative thought.
Here are some more tips to avoid the dangers of eating lunch at your desk:
- Make plans with friends – As Inc notes, eating lunch at your desk isn’t great, but substituting that for a business lunch isn’t much better. Try to schedule lunches with friends or alone instead so that you can recharge properly and be more productive at work.
- Stretch! – Even if you do leave the office for lunch, you’ll still be sitting most of the day if you’re at an office job. In addition to leaving your desk and moving around in the middle of the day, remember to do a few stretches and exercises to help prevent injury.
- Create a break-taking culture – There’s no doubt that taking a break is good for you, but employees won’t do it if they feel pressured to eat lunch at their desk. An office environment that encourages people to take breaks will result in happier, more productive employees. Making sure your office has a proper break room is a great place for employers to start.