It’s not uncommon to find employees overworked, tired, stressed and unhappy. The pressure to meet deadlines often forces people to work through their breaks and longer hours than what they signed up. This can impact personal lives, causing sleepless nights, fear of job security and has even been linked to diabetes and obesity. With these issues being prominent in today’s working society, how can employees regain control of their physical and mental health?
Lunch breaks are essential for recharging the body and mind. Studies have found that work day breaks can help to recuperate resource levels to sustain performance throughout the day and reduce the immense need to recover when the work day is over. Here are eight tips to maximise a lunch break and build healthy habits:
1. Go for a walk.
Removing yourself from the office environment physically disconnects you from work demands. In addition, the natural environment can help to reduce stress and stimulate positive effect. If you don't have a park nearby, opt for a stroll around the black. Any change of scenery will make all the difference for your afternoon.
2. Sign up for a gym class.
Physical activity will help to shift your thoughts away from work. Instead, you’ll be focusing on reaching your fitness goals and earning that well-deserved post-workout refuel meal. Don't feel like getting sweaty? Look for a local yoga or Pilates studio for low-impact activity.
3. Plug in your headphones and relax.
Go to a quiet area of the office and listen to your favourite playlist. This will help to alleviate stress and provide a valuable mental break. You can activate a new section of brain and put on a podcast designed to teach you something new.
4. Avoid eating at your desk.
When the body is under stress, it finds it harder to digest food, so get away from your desk and look for a change of scenery. Go sit in the breakout area, the canteen, or in the park. If you can socialise with colleagues this is an added bonus, as it will help shift your mental focus and allow you to develop new relationships.
5. Catch up with friends.
Do you have some buddies working nearby? Schedule a lunch catch up with them, and be sure to block the time off in your diary to ensure your team know you'll be popping out. No mates in the area? Use the time to make some phone calls or send some messages, just checking in. You'll not be thinking about work, and your friends and family will enjoy the thoughtful surprise.
6. Tick off your errands
Need to buy a gift? How about sending a package? Use your lunch break to get a productive task done. You'll have more time to enjoy on your days off, and will ensure your mindset is in a productive mode for when you get back to your desk.
7. Get into a good book
This is the ultimate distraction for your mind. Pick up a real page turner and immerse yourself while you're eating. Bonus points if you take your book to the park, as you'll be combining fresh air and exercise with this activity.
8. Focus on what you're eating.
It’s important to make time to eat on your break but equally, it’s imperative that you’re eating the correct foods. Due to time constraints, a vast number of employees either skip lunch or find themselves picking up something unhealthy as it’s the most convenient option. Try prepping your lunchtime meals the night before, or aim to prioritise health over convenience to make smarter choices.
Life is demanding, but nothing is more important than health. Never underestimate the benefit of making small, sustainable changes each day. Walks in the park, socialising with work colleagues, or simply getting away from your desk could make all the difference and prevent you from suffering from burnout.