Lunch on your own terms

Lunch on your own terms

Do you ever find yourself with crumbs on your keyboard and jelly on your mousepad?

According to a study from Right Management, you are not alone. Nearly 65 percent of working Americans eat their lunch at their desk.

But how many of those people make that choice because that’s truly what they want to do? The study finds that when employees choose to stay at their desk during their break, they feel good about their decision and are less tired at the end of the day.

“We found that a critical element was having the freedom to choose whether to do it or not,” said study leader, John Trougakos, in a news release.

The study, from the University of Toronto, suggests that when people don’t feel pressured to step away, then they actually are more energetic at the end of the day.

“The autonomy aspect helps to offset what we had traditionally thought was not a good way to spend break time,” Trougakos says.

Researchers looked at how employees, who primarily spend their day at a desk, spend their lunch break over a 10-day period. They then surveyed their co-workers on how energetic or lethargic they looked at the end of the day.

They found that employees who chose to do peaceful activities throughout their lunch break had the least amount of tiredness. And those who worked throughout their lunch were the most tired-looking at the end of the day but for those who chose to do so looked less tired.

The findings, published in Academy of Management Journal, also showed that those who socialized during their break actually led to more exhaustion at the end of the day.

Trougakos believes that although we may think that social interactions are a good outlet for employees to unwind, this may not be the reality. He says that those groups who chose to do this activity may not necessarily kick back and be themselves so may produce more anxiety and stress on their break.

He adds that when workplaces don’t give employees the chance to recuperate throughout the day, they may actually be contributing to “lower worker effectiveness and productivity, leading to burnout, absenteeism and higher staff turnover.”

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  1. I completely agree with this! I often eat at my desk, but it’s my choice. It’s a good lull in the day when I feel like I can catch my breath and catch up on some unfinished business. It’s actually stress-relieving, most of the time!

  2. Julie Nakis

    I also eat at my desk regularly. On the rare occasion that I do go out to lunch it then seems more like a treat. Although I can’t always fully enjoy the time away as I’m checking email on my phone to make sure I’m not missing anything.

  3. Whether or not you eat lunch at your desk does not seem to ber the important issue. What is significant — for an individual’s mental and physical health — is to take the time to move away from the desk occasionally throughout the day to take a quick walk and physically move around. That kind of brief exercise is good for the body and helps clear the mind.

  4. Katie Renz

    I enjoy eating lunch at my desk because it helps to add a little bit of variety into my routine.

  5. Most days I will eat at my desk, but it’s largely because I get a better WiFi signal on my iPad.
    Although sometimes it’s nice to step away for an hour and get some fresh air!

  6. I agree with Mike in that it’s important to step away from your work if only for a few minutes. Walk around, get some fresh air and reenergize for the rest of the day.

  7. I think variety is key. I do find myself eating at my desk but definitely know when I need to clear my head a bit.

About the Author

Sarah Scroggins
Sarah Scroggins

Sarah Scroggins, health enews contributor, is the director of social media at Advocate Aurora Health. She has a BA and MA in Communications. When not on social media, she loves reading a good book (or audiobook), watching the latest Netflix series and teaching a college night class.