Taking a lunch break away from your desk appears to be an increasingly challenging task. I mean, with all the deadlines piling up, it’s tempting to believe that eating while responding to emails is just as efficient, right? With over 36% of UK workers skipping breaks, it is time for management and leaders to encourage workers to take lunch, as the benefits outweigh the negative effects on productivity.
5 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Lunch Break
- Start small: Even if it’s just 15 minutes, something is better than nothing. If you haven’t been taking proper lunch breaks, start small by incorporating one into your week for a couple of weeks. Once you feel comfortable and on top of your work, consider adding a second break.
- Embrace natural light: Step outside and soak in some sunlight during your break. Natural light has both physical and mental benefits, as it plays a role in releasing melatonin, which regulates our circadian rhythm. This can boost your daytime energy and improve your sleep at night.
- Set an alarm: Schedule your recharge time by putting a recurring appointment in your calendar. This ensures that you don’t accidentally work through your break, and it becomes a consistent part of your routine.
- Digital detox: Leave your phone or iPad charging in the office during your break to give your brain a chance to recharge. Avoid catching up on social media; instead, take a break from stimulation to reap the rewards for the rest of the afternoon.
- Make it social: Enjoy your break with a friend or join a group for lunch. Listening, learning, and laughing with colleagues in a relaxed setting can foster better working relationships.
Why a (Any) Break is Important
A workplace that promotes a culture of health and wellness is more likely to attract and retain staff, boost morale, and create a positive working environment.
When you sit through lunch at your computer, your brain doesn’t get a chance to switch off, and regroup. The result can be an afternoon of tiredness, lack of focus and diminished productivity. Stepping away at lunch can help you and your brain perform at a better rate.
1. Time to reevaluate your goals for the day
Taking a small break of even 5 minutes can help to reassess your daily goals. We all know how a hundred things are waiting to redirect our focus at any time. So, you can better set yourself up for success by taking stock of what you’ve done and what you want to complete before the day is over. Taking breaks can also allow your mind to process anything that has come up during the day, gain a new perspective on work challenges, and help you keep the big picture in mind.
2. A chance to refocus on your work
Allocating just 5 minutes every couple of hours to reassess your daily goals can significantly impact the course of your day. We’re all familiar with the numerous distractions that can easily shift our focus. By periodically evaluating what you’ve accomplished and what you still aim to complete, you can position yourself for success.
Taking breaks also provides your mind with the opportunity to digest any new developments throughout the day, gain fresh insights into work challenges, and ensure you maintain a clear perspective on the bigger picture.
3. Opportunity to Realign with Your Work
All too often, our work hours are consumed by emails, meetings, and small tasks that seem to lead us nowhere. A short break in the midst of the workday serves as a chance to hit the restart button. Consider dedicating the next chunk of time to a crucial project and make a commitment to eliminate any potential distractions.
According to a research study, “when faced with long tasks… it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will help you stay focused on your task!” Ironically, taking breaks at work can enhance productivity. Additionally, enjoying breaks at work is linked to improved job satisfaction, reduced stress, and enhanced mental well-being.
If you’re working from home, taking breaks to tackle household chores or go for a walk can contribute to a healthier work-life balance.
4. Creativity boost
Taking a break can give employees a fresh perspective on challenging projects. It’s hard for employees to develop new ideas or solutions when they’ve been looking at the same thing all day. Sometimes you need to walk away from a project or a task in order to find a solution. A lunch break will most certainly help get those creative juices flowing.
The next instance you sense guilt or pressure compelling you to toil through your lunch break, take a moment to ponder the myriad benefits you might be passing up. Acknowledge that your lunch break is an essential component of your workday.
Your productivity, mental health, overall well-being, and physical condition will express their gratitude. If achieving a work-life balance proves challenging, consider consulting with a mental health professional. They can offer valuable insights on seamlessly integrating a lunch break into your day without harboring feelings of guilt.