By Amari D. Pollard
Ever get so into your work that you peek at the clock and it’s basically time to pack up and go home? Or maybe you’ve looked around your office and noticed everyone glued to their desks at lunchtime. We have a tendency to get so caught up in our jobs that we forget there is unpaid time built into our schedules so we can relax for a few minutes. That time is essential to our health, our productivity, and sometimes even our sanity. So the next time you find yourself considering skipping your lunch break, keep these five things in mind.
1. You need to eat. As if this wasn’t already obvious, it’s never smart to skip a meal. Health lesson: Your glucose intake—glucose being a sugar that comes from food and is stored in the body—controls your level of productivity. It’s the main source of energy for the cells in the human body, and without sufficient levels, you are unable to function properly. The best foods for better brain power include dark chocolate, nuts, carrots, fish, whole grains, and avocado.
2. Too much screen time is never a good thing. There’s a reason why you’re more prone to headaches the longer you stare at a screen, whether it’s a computer, phone, or tablet. Looking at one for more than two consecutive hours strains your eyes, and while it may sound ridiculous, computer vision syndrome is actually a thing. It can temporarily cause your eyes to feel strained, irritated, and dry, while also causing a burning sensation, blurred vision, headaches, and neck and shoulder pain. You’re too young for all of that!
3. Your brain needs a refresh. In general, humans have short attention spans. After about 50 to 60 minutes of continuous work, our performance level and concentration starts to deteriorate—meaning that big presentation you’re putting together for your editor will suffer. In order to prevent that, experts recommend taking a break every 40 minutes. Got a tight deadline on the horizon? Even if you can’t take your full hour off, spread your breaks out out in spurts of 10 to 15 minutes—that will help sustain your energy throughout the day and will ultimately help you write a stronger story.
4. Moving around makes you feel better. Sitting at a desk for hours on end is never good for your body. Some people swear that working out during their lunch break makes them feel better, reduces stress, and improves their mood. Of course, heading to the gym in the middle of the day isn’t always the easiest task, so going for a short walk will also suffice. It gives you the chance to stretch out your muscles, increase your heart rate, and wake your body up so it’s ready for another round of work later.
5. A little sunshine will do you good. Getting fresh air and planting yourself in natural scenery has a way of making you feel lighter and has been shown to decrease anxiety and stress. Locate the nearest park or alcove of greenery and make your way there during lunch. Back while I was an intern in the city, there was a random nook with a waterfall and I tried to go there for lunch as often as I could. To this day, it’s one of my favorite places in New York; I always feel renewed after I leave there. So go find your waterfall!
Amari D. Pollard is the Social Media Editor for The Week. She has written pieces for Parents, Popsugar, Elite Daily and Inside Lacrosse. She’s a news junkie obsessed with her collection of glasses, vintage shopping, and brunching. Check out her work at amaridawn.com and follow her slightly above average life on Instagram and Twitter.