All work and no play makes you a burned-out employee!

It's 1 PM. One hand is furiously tapping on the keyboard and the other is holding a cheese sandwich. Yes, you're taking a “working lunch” again. It's been a common theme lately. What that means is you're desperately trying to finish a report while simultaneously eating and also trying to answer emails. Your head is a mess… and so is your desk.

When the workload gets heavy, it's high time to take a break. However, research suggests that having too many tasks on your plate may have the opposite effect. When you're struggling to meet deadlines, you may think nothing of skipping your lunch breaks. While this move may help you to sneak in some extra work, it's a dangerous game to play. Don't believe us? In the following guide, we'll take a look at seven reasons to take breaks. 

1. Get the rest that you need

Spoiler: lunch breaks aren't simply about refueling your body. You also need to relax and get some time away from your professional duties. Whether you get an hour or 20 minutes, this is a time when you should be resting your mind. Research suggests that taking a break in the middle of the day leads to increased energy levels and motivation. It ticks all of the boxes. 

While you may feel like you're being productive by working through lunch time, chances are your energy will dip in the afternoon. You haven't given yourself the time you need to detach from your work. That will have a knock-on effect later in the day. 

2. Boost your performance and creativity 

When you work through lunch, it may actually hinder your overall workflow. Sure, you may feel like you're being more productive, but that break in the middle of the day can work wonders. Research suggests that taking a lunch break can lead to higher levels of work performance and creativity. Whether you've got a new project on or you need to complete something important, having some down-time may help you to crack the code. 

3. Make connections with your coworkers 

Do you buddy up with your colleagues? If you want to make your work life more palatable, becoming friends with the people around you isn't a bad idea. One study in the Human Performance journal found that eating with coworkers can build bonds with them. Plus, when you have close connections with your colleagues, your work may be easier.

If you want to make your day-to-day life easier, it's well worth taking the time to get to know your coworkers. It may be as simple as asking someone to join you at a local cafe when you next have a lunch break. The social time that you spend with this person may be invaluable. It's the easiest way to turn a working relationship into a friendship. 

4. Improve your eating habits 

When you're in a hurry, time is of the essence. You have to make a snap decision about what you're going to eat. It's in these time-pressured moments that you tend to make poor food decisions. Grabbing some fast food is exactly that: fast. You end up eating a burger and fries for the third time this week. If that sounds familiar, it's time to change your ways. 

Research shows that people make worse meal choices when they have shorter lunch breaks. You don't need to be a nutritionist to realize that eating badly can affect all areas of your life. For that reason, it's important to give yourself the time to eat well. One approach may be planning your meals in advance at the start of the week. However, you also need to take your full lunch break, so that you can eat something delicious and nutritious. 

5. Avoid the dreaded burnout 

Workplace burnout is a real risk. When you're not getting the breaks that you deserve, you could find that your mental health suffers. No job - regardless of how important it may be - is worth your everyday wellness. Work-related stress can lead to a range of problems including insomnia, fatigue, sadness, anger, irritability, substance or alcohol misuse, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and vulnerability to other illnesses. 

If you want to avoid all of the above, it's worth looking at the ways that you can rest and relax. If you work through lunch on a regular basis, you're making a mistake. While it may not feel like a huge deal, failing to take that short and sweet escape can make all of the difference. Research shows that workers who take regular lunch breaks are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs and continue to work for the same company.

6. Lower your back pain 

As we get older, we all get those familiar aches and pains. While you may not be able to stop Old Man Time completely, there are ways to lower the effect he has on your body. If you tend to work through lunch, it's time to switch things up. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends taking regular breaks and stretching at work. When you head off for lunch, it's the ideal time to get moving, even if that just means a walk. 

Of course, there are other ways that you can reduce your back pain. You might want to consider adjusting your chair, changing the position of your screen, or even getting a standing desk. Making these changes to your environment could have a significant impact on your physical health. If you are getting regular back pain, it's time to do something about it. 

7. Reduce your stress levels 

Are you feeling stressed out? When you're trying to manage a wealth of tasks, it can be hard to keep your head above water. While you can look at ways to manage your workload, you also need to make sure that you're taking the breaks that you deserve. Having a lunch break at work may seem like a small thing, but it's vital to your well-being.

Research shows that taking a lunch break can lower your stress levels and may lead to fewer sick-related absences. If you feel like your work life is taking a toll on your health, look at how you can change the story. That may mean having regular lunch breaks, taking shorter breaks throughout the day, or getting out of the office when you get the chance.

Tips on taking regular lunch breaks

Now that you understand why taking lunch breaks is important, let's talk about how to do it. If you've got a lot you need to do, it may sound impossible. However, as we've discussed here, there are plenty of benefits to getting the time out that you need. With that in mind, follow these tips and get the breaks that you deserve: 

Set an alarm. Do you find yourself working through lunch by accident? We've all been there. One of the ways that you can avoid this problem is by setting an alarm for your break. When it goes off, stop what you're doing and clock out for a while. 

Plan your time. Poor scheduling can often cause people to work through lunch. If you don't have control over your routine, you may find it hard to take breaks. You can use platforms such as Asana, Monday, or Clickup to manage your workflow. 

Make lunch plans. Struggling to take a lunch break alone? No problem. Make a plan with a friend instead. Arranging to meet someone for lunch means that you're more likely to take it. The fact that someone else is relying on you is powerful.

Do some exercise. Want to make your lunch breaks even more effective? If you're looking for a way to relieve some tension, it may be worth exercising during your lunch breaks. You could hit the gym, do some yoga, or even go out for a jog. 

Sure, it may be difficult to squeeze lunch breaks into a busy workday. But it's important to get into this self-care habit. Giving yourself the opportunity to completely recharge is important for all aspects of your daily life. Don't burn yourself out by skipping breaks.  

The takeaway

Making lunch breaks a priority is a no-brainer. No matter what your job is, it's important to give yourself a break each day. In this guide, we've delved into some science-backed reasons you should never work through lunch. Revamp your schedule today!

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