We all know that eating lunch at your desk isn’t good for you, yet we still do it. Despite this, most of us can’t resist staying at our desks to get a few extra emails out at lunch.
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 an increased risk of heart disease.
In short, getting up occasionally 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. Sore joints
Beyond longer-term health problems, you could be seeing more short-term pain if you decide 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.
It’s no secret that work can be stressful but eating lunch at your desk can make it even more so. If you don’t take the time to shut off, you never take the time to recover, leading to higher levels of burnout and fatigue.
Conversely, taking the time to relax can be a big help in terms of productivity, so pick up your sandwich and head outside for a short break.
4. Brain fog
When you’ve got a lot to do, it can certainly seem like a good idea to grab a quick sandwich and eat at your desk. However, that might just be your foggy brain talking – you need to move around to pump fresh blood and oxygen up top.
5. Reduced productivity
If multitasking is your game, think again. No matter how good you think you are at the artful dance of sipping a coffee, eating a salad, and continuing to read and type, multitasking still isn’t as effective as focusing on one thing at a time.
6. Lack of balance
Staying in work mode all the time (and not taking breaks) is a sure-fire shortcut to burnout.
To avoid burnout, choose milestones at certain points in your day that will allow you to take a break. Once you’ve reached one of your milestones (such as cleaning out your inbox or sending out two offer letters), go outside for a short walk or grab a coffee. Doing so can help you refresh and refocus when you get back to work.
Make plans with friends – Schedule some lunchtime with friends. Connecting with friends is a great outlet. Don’t spend all your time talking about work, vent on a topic and move on. The point of meeting up with a friend is to enjoy.
7. Missing out on inspiration
While eating lunch at your desk can cause extra stress and diminished productivity, the monotony can also lead to a lack of creativity and new ideas. Getting out occasionally 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.
Eating lunch away from work and alone occasionally, just to help recharge one’s batteries. It’s also important to stay away from your phone, as an absence of external stimulation can spur creative thought
Your health is the greatest investment you'll ever make and it will pay you back 10x.