Stop Brown Bagging It! Have Lunch Out To Reduce Workplace Stress

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August 10, 2013 ‐ By Ann Brown

Do you grab a salad or a sandwich to eat at your desk? This may be making you more stressed out even though so many workers do it.  A 2011 survey by human resources consulting firm Right Management, found that only one in three American workers take a lunch break — leaving 65 percent of employees either eat at their desks or not eat at all.

According to a German study recently published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers at Berlin’s Humboldt University explored the psychological consequences of meal situations, looking at how lunchtime eating circumstances affected thinking and emotional states, reports The Huffington Post.

Half of the 32 female test participants ate alone in an office and half went out for a leisurely sit-down meal with friends or co-workers. The meals eaten in the bland office environment was eaten alone in a short  time period. The restaurant subjects took more time and ate the meal in the company of others. Those who ate at the restaurant also included a short walk back to the lab.

“After the meals, researchers measured semantic memory, cognitive control and error processing, and processing of emotional facial expressions, and subjects filled out a questionnaire ranking their mood,” reports HuffPo. The study found that people who had the restaurant meal reported increased feelings of relaxation, and also reduced cognitive control, which let the subjects better process facial expressions — potentially boosting their creativity and connection to others.

An long off-site lunch could actually help you get more done, Fast Company reported. So now you have a reason to leave your desk for a nice lunch ever now and again. Tell your boss about this study!

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