Walk by k76 on Flickr

Want to be happier and more productive? Take a real lunch break.

by Scott Crabtree

A recent study showed only one in five of us is taking a real lunch break. Several studies suggest the productivity benefits of actually taking a lunch break.

According to the science of happiness, the best possible lunch break is to exercise outdoors with a friend. This gives us three happiness and brain-function boosts:

1. Physical activity. The data indicates this boosts brain function and mood. Exercise is as effective as anti-depressants in treating depression in the long run. Even a walk at a relaxed pace counts.

2. Social connection. The quality of our relationships is a key factor in our happiness. Happiness boosts productivity, creativity, resilience, health, and success.

3. A real break from work. Studies show we need time away from screens, and in a new setting, and that time outdoors refreshes us in unique ways.

The eating part of our lunch break can happen at the end of the workout, when we feel we’ve really earned it with the exercise.

If you are a manager or team leader in your organization, encourage your team members to get up from their desks during lunch breaks, so they know you appreciate this productivity-boosting behavior.

Are you taking a real lunch break? Away from your desk? With other people? With physical activity? Please comment to let me know what’s working – and not working – for your workplace happiness.