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Lunch Break Conundrum

The Corporate Conundrum Of 
Lunch Breaks: 
Step Away From 
That Desk for 
Your Mental Health! 

By Dara Mormile

Over the last decade, I've made it a point to take real "lunch breaks" away from my desk and work area at every office job I've had. However, my colleagues often questioned me as I left with my coat and purse: "Where are you going?   Are you leaving for the day?" It's as if they think I'm trying to escape from prison! So, to appease my co-workers, I simply say that I'm going out for fresh air.  
  A real break or lunch break is not about picking up a quick bite from a nearby deli and then returning to a kitchen/lounge or, worse, your desk. It's about taking a real break, stepping away from work to recharge, and coming back refreshed. 
  However, there's a strange stigma attached to leaving one's desk for a break. Stepping away implies you're not giving your best, while the opposite is true.  
Preferred Health Magazine asked mental health expert Dr. Rosann Capanna-Hodge (visionary founder of The Global Institute of Children's Mental Health and Neurotastic® Brain Formulas) about the increasing pressures of becoming a workaholic, working through one's break and redefining your lunch hour in toxic corporate settings.  
   So, if you're glued to your desk daily, she's got some insight for you! 

“There’s a guilt that employees feel -
like if they walk away from their station for that hour, they’ll fall behind
in their work."

“Many of the company cultures that exist don’t actually implement or enforce mental health and don’t encourage taking real breaks during your work day,” the doctor said. “There’s a guilt that employees feel - like if they walk away from their station for that hour, they’ll fall behind in their work. That stress is multiplied by employers who don’t value their teams’ need to recharge during the course of the day.” 
   While setting boundaries at your workplace is one way to establish a healthy routine, Capanna-Hodge has been doing extensive research on corporate wellness and suggested a few ways to utilize your break instead of being glued to your desk: 


1. Sit outside of your office, even if it’s for 10 minutes.  
2. Take a short walk around the block, which helps stimulate oxygen to the brain and prevent mental burnout. 
3. Have an accountability buddy and create a daily routine of encouraging each other to leave the office; additionally, use that time to talk and even find humor about non-work related topics.  

The expert and mother of two also noted that breaks are key to preventing the dreaded ‘tech-neck’ and eye strain. Blood circulation and getting natural light in the midst of looking at a screen all day are vital recovery tools! 
  What about corporations that claim to offer mental health resources but still have employees who scarf down food while they’re logging into meetings and typing away at documents? 
  “We hear all the time that companies want to ‘promote mental health’ and boost resources - but what most bosses don’t do is actually enforce leaving the building for an hour!” said the caring author. “I’ve spoken to some supervisors and managers who actively encourage lunch breaks and make sure their team leaves their desks so they come back a little more refreshed and rejuvenated. There’s not enough of that company culture in America - I think that’s why there are such high rates of anxiety, stress, and depression.” 

Despite discovering a few companies that offer yoga sessions and encourage the use of gym time in the building during breaks, the health innovator said we have a long way to go.    
   “It’s a world of demand and productivity versus mental health, I get it, but not taking that break can leave you with an isolated feeling at the end of the day and we’re not machines meant to just keep going non-stop. No matter how much we’re learning about mental health and trying to change professional dynamics, working non-stop is still a landscape employees are coping with.” 
  No matter how you spend your break, don’t be afraid to detach! Instead of munching on that salad at your desk with a side order of keyboard every day, take a few moments to get outside, power down, and reboot your mental health before it crashes! 

As a media personality, Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge has given expert opinions in hundreds of major publications such as the New York Times, The Washington Post, Parents Magazine, National Television, and various podcasts. She has authored three books that focus on improving children’s mental health, “It’s Gonna Be OK!,” “Brain Under Attack,” and “The Teletherapy Toolkit”—the first book ever written on teletherapy activities for children and teens. With over 30 years of experience, she is a licensed therapist, certified school psychologist and board-certified neurofeedback (BCN) provider, specializing in innovative treatments for complex behavioral and mental health conditions. Dr. Capanna-Hodge is also a national speaker on topics related to calming the brain and achieving mental wellness at home, school, organizations, and businesses. Check out her websites:  and

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