We’ve all been victims of the dreaded desk lunch: a sad salad, wilted sandwich, or microwave meal eaten mindlessly while staring at a screen. The lunch break is disappearing and we’re none too pleased about it, especially as a recent study has shown that going out to eat, preferably with a group, resulted in higher relaxation and potentially increased creativity and connection to others. And yes, the opposite is true for when you take your “break” at your computer to drool over clothes on Pinterest that you’ll never buy.
The German study, published in PLOS ONE, explores the consequences of meal contexts on emotional and cognitive well-being. The 32 subjects were split into two groups, one, which ate alone, and one which ate a leisurely meal in a restaurant with others. After the meals, the researchers tested the subjects for semantic memory and their ability to process emotions in others. Subjects also filled out questionnaires ranking their mood. The researchers found that more positive moods were reported by the subjects in the social lunch condition. They also had less cognitive control, which is linked to better perceptual processing, recognition of emotions in others, and creativity.
Don’t end up like the 65 % of poor saps who eat lunch alone at their desks or don't eat at all. When you’re trying to convince your boss that you need a lunch break, tell them it's been shown that having extra relaxation time can boost your productivity. People with established and socially engaging lunch breaks are clearly getting the better end of the deal.
Need some inspiration? Check out Not Sad Desk Lunch for some ideas of what to make when you do finally take that hour.