We’ve all heard how eating lunch at our desks is bad for our health, but many of us don’t actually know why.
In the middle of an extremely busy day, allocating every single minute of your time in the office to actual work might seem like the most efficient and sensible option, however it’s proven it does actually have a significantly harmful effect on how productive we are at work.
Mark Pinches, Head of Coaching at Westfield Health, explains for CEO Today why it’s important to remember the difference between a dining table, and our computer desks.
Break bad habits
“A recent study by Total Jobs shows a third of UK employees never leave their workplace after they arrive in the morning1. Most of us feel too overwhelmed with work tasks to step away from our desks in the middle of the day but this can have a major impact on productivity.
“Evidence suggests we work best in small bite-sized chunks so you should try and have a short, standing break every 50 minutes, or at the very least, make sure you take your lunch break away from your desk every day.”
“Eating while you’re distracted by work can be bad news for your waistline and energy levels. If you’re sat at your desk working you’ll be less likely to be mindful of what you’re eating and when you’re full.
“It’s easy to overeat when you’re distracted, and spending long periods sitting down uses little energy and burns few calories. You should take time to focus on what you’re eating and savour every mouthful. By practicing mindful eating away from your desk, you’ll eat less and feel more satisfied when you’ve finished.”
Unhealthy habits lead to an unhealthy keyboard
“No matter how careful you are, eating at your desk can lead to cross contamination with your keyboard.
“Even if you can’t see any food, chances are microscopic remains of previous meals are still around. Eating at your desk not only creates bad habits, but bits of leftover food can breed nasty bacteria when they’re left to breed around your keys.
“To keep your keyboard clean eat lunch elsewhere but also make sure to keep your desk tidy so everything has its own place.”
Go back to nature
“With many people working early mornings and late nights, it can be difficult to get your daily dose of sunlight and fresh air and recharge your levels of vitamin D.
“Sunshine is an incredible mood booster that triggers the feel good hormone serotonin that leaves us feeling happier and more positive. Even on days when the sun isn’t shining, being outside still helps to reduce stress.
“Your lunch break is the ideal time to step outside and improve your mood. Going for a walk is also great exercise that will enhance your energy levels for the afternoon hours at work.”
Take a screen break
“In today’s world we don’t seem to be able to live without our screens. Although our computers and smartphones keep us connected, this can have a negative effect on your stress levels, self-esteem and sleep.
“Make sure you’re moving away from your desk and your electronics, including your phone, to have a complete break at lunch. You’ll feel much more refreshed and energised if you give yourself some much needed time off.”