The morning was filled with classes and group work on conflict resolution and peacebuilding. We were covering terrorism and violence from Palestine to Ukraine, and it was already 12:30 and we were ready to tackle the next important action item on our agenda. A classmate, facilitator, and I were scheduled to go downstairs for her hour-long meal of three courses. Because this is Europe and people still eat lunch here.
In my normal American life, lunch is an afterthought, almost embarrassing. Like me, the majority of my friends and colleagues only leave their desks for their midday meal a few times a year. I have a friend who is a publishing executive, and we sometimes have an early breakfast together. By her own confession, she hasn’t really eaten a weekday lunch in years. And all this is somehow taken for granted as normal and productive. A 2021 survey by hygiene brand Talk found that 39% of respondents said they “occasionally, rarely or never” take breaks at work, despite an increase in working from home. Nearly a quarter admitted they felt guilty or blamed when they left work during the day. A 2019 survey by the California Walnut Commission and its commission found that two in three millennials said they often skipped lunch to “get ahead” at work. And even if you take a break, it won’t last long. The average American lunch break is just 30 minutes long, according to a recent Global Workplace Eating Survey by The Compass Group.
In other countries, however, the rhythm of the day is understood to require ebb and flow. In France, eating your desk is not only a strange idea, it violates the country’s labor laws. Food historian Martin Bruegel told NPR last year, “If you take a break from work, people just get happier. It’s good for your health.”
And happiness is both a physical and mental investment. “In the fast-paced world of work, it’s easy to overlook the importance of pausing to feed yourself, but doing so has many benefits for our overall health,” says Mentalyc Certified Professional. says counselor and writer Marissa Moore.
Stopping for lunch, she says, “provides the body with the nutrients and energy it needs to stay productive throughout the day,” while “skipping meals can cause blood sugar spikes and dips, affecting mood and cognitive function.” It can have an impact,” he said. It sounds simple, but there is actually a cure for hunger: eating. But lunch also gives the brain a break, says Moore, saying, “Getting away from work tasks and engaging in a variety of activities can help rejuvenate cognitive skills, solve better problems, and increase cognitive flexibility. can lead to,” he said.
But we Americans don’t just skip lunch to prove our productivity. Inflation has made eating seem like a luxury to many of us. An April survey by Clever Real Estate found that nearly 40% of respondents admitted to skipping meals to cover their housing bills.
But even if you can’t afford or don’t want to eat during the day, and that $30 takeout salad is really annoying, you can still find a way to get something away from your desk and You absolutely should. Scenic opportunity. “There’s this idea that taking a break is weakness, and having to eat lunch is weakness,” says The Dinner Party Project: A Stress-Free Guide to Dining With Friends. says Natasha Feldman. But you don’t necessarily have to eat lunch on your lunch break. Feldman agrees. “Our culture and agriculture aren’t built around people over profit. Can we sit together?” Human? ”
It doesn’t even have to be lunchtime.
“Maybe you can say, ‘I need an hour in my day,'” says Feldman. “Even if it’s 4 p.m., you need a break.” Although she recommends it, she also acknowledges that it’s important to “rest your mind.” Take a walk outside with her co-workers and relax a bit. This gives your brain a chance to recharge and stay focused for the rest of the day. “
“There’s this idea that it’s weakness to take a break and weakness to have to eat lunch.”
We glorify overwork and privilege loneliness as if eating out and seeing friends and colleagues were just weekends and nights. But while the pandemic has only reduced our free time and extended our workdays, it has collapsed the transition buffer provided by commuting. In related news, we’re experiencing burnout in record numbers. A global poll released this spring by the Future Forum found that more than 41% of American desk workers have job burnout, defined as “energy depletion, fatigue, and mental distance from work.” increase or distance from work.” Negative or cynical attitudes related to one’s work and diminished professional competence. Women under 30 and workers were more likely to report burnout. In a similar 2022 U.S. survey by Aflac, 59% of respondents said they experienced at least moderate burnout.
It’s clear that hitting the ground doesn’t work for the power of late capitalism, or for our basic humanity. “In my country, lunch is the staple of the day and dinner is lighter. I was surprised,” he said. “And I realized that not everyone has the same eating habits. Seeing my co-workers eating at their desks or eating smaller portions to keep it up throughout the day? I was shocked, after a while I realized my own behavior was changing to adapt to it’this. “
Finally she said: “Varying mealtimes was having a negative effect on my energy, focus, and digestion. Eating late was preventing me from getting proper sleep. I found out it was because I worked for .” But now she says: “I eat a decent, nutritious lunch and take my time and eat mindfully. I still go out to dinner with friends, but I either order smaller portions or take leftovers home. My energy levels are back to normal.” I’m also more focused. “
“I was shocked to see my co-workers eating at their desks or eating small portions to keep them going throughout the day.”
Most of my normal life was spent answering emails and following the day’s horrors in my news feed while sitting at my laptop and mindlessly nibbling on microwaved leftovers. But during my few weeks in Switzerland, I have been doing something different. On weekends, I would hang out in cafes, read books, and watch shopkeepers close their doors for their days off. On weekdays, my colleagues and I would sit together around a long table, eating plates of pasta followed by salads with fresh sorbet and bony fillets, barely even looking at our phones. . One recent day in class, I had a white wine risotto with pork knuckle followed by a chocolate mousse. What is this strange feelingThen, as I climbed the stairs upstairs to continue my work, I wondered. And then I found myself satisfied. I would like to cherish that feeling. I want to stop running on gasoline and rely on refueling.
“All we do as Americans is try to fight our natural urges,” says Natasha Feldman. “I think if we could just live as normal humans, take the breaks we need, eat as quickly as possible without shoving food in our faces, and get right back to work, it would actually save us a lot of time.” ”
On how to spend a better lunch break