Half of American workers don’t take a proper lunch break and a third eat lunch at their desks. The reasons vary, but most can be attributed to the perception that screen-free lunches are unproductive. This is a big misconception.
I am a big advocate of screen-free lunches. I use Freedom** to block social media and other distractions from screens during specific intervals, including my lunch, so I'm not tempted.
If you are used to having lunch in front of a screen every day, starting small with one day a week is a reasonable goal.
Why you need to start your screen-free lunch routine now:
- A study from Cornell discovered that people who eat lunch in front of a screen might eat up to 30% more calories later in the day. This is because it doesn’t get imprinted on our brain that we’ve eaten anything. We think we're saving time, but we aren’t because we tend to make more mistakes and be slower at tasks in the afternoon.
- One survey found that North American employees who take a screen-free lunch break every day reported higher engagement based on metrics like job satisfaction, productivity, and likelihood to recommend the workplace to others.
- You may even find that a break for a meal screen-free helps you remember details from work you did earlier in the day. Your brain takes time to relax and process events in a new environment.
Two things that can significantly help your afternoon energy are a screen-free lunch and getting outside in nature.
Studies show that spending even a little time outdoors daily can lower your heart rate and blood pressure. Eating outside with friends, office colleagues, and family can promote happier conversations and make you more present with others. Don't phub the people around you (the art of snubbing someone with screens). To remind yourself, you can use this ‘No more phubbing band'** from Bagby.
You can also make your lunch hour an invigorating boost by doing something else you enjoy: walking outside, listening to music, talking with a close friend or colleague, being in nature, or spending time on your favorite project or pastime.
“I love spending my lunch break outside in the sun, people watching and enjoying a good book.” – Jennifer Aniston
There are many ways in which an individual can use their lunch break to their greatest efficiency.
Ideas to get you started on a screen-free lunch routine:
- Decompress: The first thing you should do when your lunch break begins is to take a deep breath and relax. We tend to develop screen apnea and hold our breath or breathe shallowly when working on a computer.
- Enjoy your food: If you have a favorite place or food, enjoy it at least once a week.
- Use the time and connect with people: Our workplace interactions can be so fleeting that we never actually get to know the people we spend most days with. When you don't know those you interact with, it's easy to dehumanize and take them for granted.
- Regroup: Treat lunch as sports teams treat half time – take a few minutes to reassess where you're at and re-prioritize the rest of your day depending on how the morning has unfolded.
You can also try other forms of screen-free breaks. I experimented with a phone-free New Year's Eve experience.
What are you planning on doing for your first screen-free break?
Post written by Marcey Rader and Rijul Arora.
Note: ** are affiliate links, meaning that we'll earn a commission if you choose to purchase. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. We use these ourselves and recommend them regardless, but if we can earn a small commission, why not?