Are Lunch Breaks With Your Coworkers Stressing You Out?

coworkers eating takeout chinese food together

Taking a lunch break with your coworkers may not feel like much of a break at all. | Source: ShutterStock

A lunch break is supposed to be a break, but if you’re dining with your coworkers, it turns out that it may feel like anything but. A new study says that taking a lunch break with your colleagues can actually increase your stress levels. Why?

Because if you’re not choosing to eat with Susie from accounting, you’re probably inwardly freaking out about it. The study shows that employees who got to choose how they spent their lunch breaks were more refreshed when they got back to their desks … which means that mandatory group lunch that management set up may leave you more tired and anxious than you would have been if you’d been able to eat your wonton soup at your desk.

The findings were especially staggering among more introverted subjects, as the pressure to socialize felt, well, like more work, thus defeating the entire purpose of taking a lunch break in the first place. If employees worked or socialized during lunch, it was only relaxing if it was a choice they actively made. If you were forced to work or to chat up that creep from sales, then chances are you’d be less than revved to go when you were done chowing down.

And even if you choose to work through lunch, remember that your brain needs a break from thinking about number crunching or the horrors of having to wear pants for another four hours–so even if you stay at your desk, at least take a break and watch a video like this one, which was partially filmed in my apartment. No, I wasn’t wearing pants in this.

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