In this day and age, we have become accustomed to being occupied all the time. There is just so many things that scream for your attention – work, emails, chats, social media sites, games and storybooks – and all are accessible with just the swipe of a finger or the stroke of a keyboard.
I don’t know about you, but this is the reason why I am more inclined to spend my lunch break in the office, at my desk, mindlessly scoffing down food while doing work, watching random videos or probably both. But one may ask – is this habit a healthy one?
Studies have found that eating alone at your desk during lunch breaks would yield disadvantages in several ways. This includes:
Staring at your computer screen, whether for work or pleasure, can cause your brain to zone out and go into autopilot, also influencing the way you choose your food. This is how convenient foods such as junk food and cup noodles automatically become top of the list on the ‘Al Desk-O’ menu. Moreover, it has been found that people tend to eat more when in brain-dead zombie mode. Yes, zombie-styled mindless eating can contribute to unwanted weight gain.
Higher Stress Levels
Being at your desk will increase the chances of you working through your so-called ‘break time’ as your mind tends to associate your desk with work. This means your mind is unable to relax, de-stress or reset. Additionally, eating at your desk usually means that you are sitting on your butt the entire day with minimal movement, which will also alleviate stress levels and contribute further to work dissatisfaction.
Low Job Satisfaction
I’m not saying that everyone who eats at their desk are antisocial, lonely, sad people, but let’s face it… that’s what most people will think of you when you do it often enough. In actuality, those who do eat that lonesome meal usually do it to ‘recharge’ by having some ‘me-time’. Just don’t do it too often or you be labeled ‘socially awkward’.
While eating alone and having that oh-so-good ‘me-time’, you may be less inclined to engage in conversation; resulting in you not getting to know your colleagues better and forming meaningful relationships with them. This can cause your work life to be droll and boring, and depriving you of the social support of people who can wholly understand your work situation and challenges. If it runs like this for too long, there will be little or no job satisfaction and work will become just another necessary evil in life.
I am not saying that everyone who eats at their desk alone will suffer the effects mentioned above – those are the possible effects with extreme cases. However, we do need to be aware of how our lunchtime habits can affect us and maintain a balanced lifestyle.
Here are some healthy and wholesome lunchtime habits:
Take A REAL Break
No, toilet breaks don’t count. I’m talking about a REAL break where your mind is actually taken off work and can relax. Have a change of environment; it helps you to see things from a different perspective when you go back to work. You could go to a park or café nearby, or just move to a more populated area of the office for some good chit-chat. You could even step out to get some errands done if you feel you need to do something productive during your break. Doing so also frees up your after-hours time to do stuff which will improve your work-life balance.
Do some exercise too if you can! Finish off some pushups or maybe just take a walk. Studies have shown that physical exertion releases endorphins, also known as one of the “happy” hormones. Or you could play mind games to switch up the pace. No, I do not mean the emotional manipulation of others. I’m talking about brain calisthenics – puzzles and problem-solving games that help you stretch your mind with a different kind of brain exercise. This too is proven to defrag and relax your mind.
Eat Healthily (Obviously)
This one seems like a no-brainer. However, as mentioned earlier, it is just way too easy to fall into unhealthy eating habit due to the convenience of such food. On days when you have to work, you should not be eating a heavy lunch as this can cause lethargy; resulting in you sleepily dragging through the rest of your working day. Consumption of fruits and vegetables is highly recommended as it gives you the required vitamins and the fiber keeping you full without being too heavy.
Bonus: You will also be highly looked upon by your colleagues as some healthy, wellness freak – which is actually a good thing.
As I mentioned earlier, it is important to have a social support wherever you go. We all need people who can understand our various situations at home, work, etc. So, go cozy up to your colleagues! It will improve your attitude towards work and gain you social support, and also enable you to work much better with your colleagues, increasing your team and personal performance.
This doesn’t mean you have to go out with the whole “gang” for lunch if you’re not the type to hang out in big groups. You could just ‘jio’ one or two other people to hang out together, or do as I do – go out together to ‘tapau’ food and bring it back to eat and chat together in the comfort of the office.
Don’t limit yourself to just your colleagues; you could also arrange for lunches with friends and family on certain days. I do this because it helps me to make more time for them as well as to keep them involved in my daily life.
Well, those are some tips to having healthy lunch habits people! Even if you forget the specific points I brought up here, just remember this: To be healthy, one must maintain a balance.