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Only 28% of Australians take a full lunch break

New findings show that less than three in 10 of us are utilising the full designated break for lunch, which can and does have detrimental effects on our holistic health and wellbeing. 

According to new research from global recruitment firm Hays, taken by 1,253 working professionals, just 28 per cent say they take their full lunch break on most days. 

One in four said they take approximately three-quarters of their lunch break, and 22 per cent said they take about half of it. A further 18 per cent say they take just one-quarter of the lunch break, and 7 per cent say they never take a break. 

More alarmingly, 93 per cent of those same respondents acknowledged that taking a proper lunch break has benefits for their productivity at the desk. 

Furthermore, when asked what helps keep them fresh and alert at work, 65 per cent said getting away from their desk to eat lunch. This was followed by short five-minute breaks for fresh air (56 per cent), a lunchtime break from all devices (50 per cent), minimising eye fatigue, such as looking away from your computer screen at regular intervals (44 per cent), gentle stretches at your desk (41 per cent), listening to music (37 per cent), exercise at lunchtime (36 per cent), regularly eating small, healthy meals or snacks (33 per cent) and mindfulness or meditation (20 per cent).

"People often believe they're too busy or their to-do list is too long to be able to step out," said Nick Deligiannis, managing director of Hays in Australia and New Zealand. 

"But we don't always need to be available at our desk. We can step away to eat and take a break."

There are benefits to be had from taking a break, he continued: "Stepping out for a lunchtime break can help avoid the 3pm slump and improve your afternoon productivity. You'll come back refreshed and your attention span will increase."

Leaving devices at your desk can keep you fresh and alert too, he added. 

"Technology has blurred the lines between work and life, giving us a constant connection to work. It's important to put down tools and step away from our devices during break times. Go for a walk to stretch your legs or sit in a nearby park. You'll notice the difference in your improved level of productivity."

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