Are you maximizing your lunch break at work and enjoying it to the fullest? Many of us don’t realize just how important this midday break is for our mental and physical wellbeing, and therefore aren’t utilizing it in the right way. To recharge yourself for what’s left of the afternoon, take these tips for unwinding during your lunch break.
Take deep breaths in and out or stare up at the ceiling for 60 seconds. Looking upward stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, lowering blood pressure and slowing down the pace of your breath. Slow, deliberate counting will also help you clear your mind, shifting your focus away from your stressors and back on the here and now.
This may seem obvious to some, but workaholics take heed. Your lunch break is supposed to be just that—a break. Even if you’re feeling exhausted from a rough morning workload or anxious about an important afternoon meeting, don’t throw away your lunch break stressing out about it. We’re only humans, and we need time to recuperate in the middle of a busy day. Don’t check email or bring your work with you to lunch. Instead, take a walk, read a book or do whatever it is you like to do to unwind.
Enjoy Your Food
The key to a good breakfast is to eat healthy, but feel free to treat yourself during your lunch break. Although you should try to stick to healthy meal options most of the time, don’t be afraid to eat something you really love once or twice week. It’ll boost your mood and put you in better spirits than eating the same salad for five days in a row will. Cheeseburgers, anyone?
Step Away from the Desk
Many office employees stay at their desk for lunch or work right through it. Doing this every once in a while may be necessary, but this should be a very rare occurrence. Utilize your company’s breakroom or get out of the office altogether. Stepping away from your desk for half an hour or so will help put you in a better frame of mind so that you’ll work more productively when you come back to your desk in the afternoon.
Chat with Coworkers
Whether it’s your office bestie or a new employee, chatting with someone over lunch can be a great way to unwind between working hours. Just try not to talk too much about work, which can lead to more stress and anxiety. Lunch is an ideal time to socialize.
Whether it’s utilizing the gym in your office or going for a walk outside on a nice day, getting yourself moving is a great way to reenergize before you head back to your desk. Of course, utilizing a standing desk while you are at your desk doesn’t hurt either!
Give Your Eyes a Rest
It may be tempting to get stuck in your cell phone or laptop during your lunch break, but try to avoid all screens while you’re on lunch. Not only will it help you refocus your energy on other things, but it’ll give your eyes a break and keep them from becoming too tired after staring at a computer screen the rest of the day.
Time it Right
30-60 minutes is the ideal time for a break. Any shorter and you aren’t giving yourself enough time to regroup, but any longer and you’ll end up feeling groggier when you go back to your desk.
Write Down the Things that are Stressing You Out
Write down the thing or things that are stressing you out (be they work related or not) and set it aside for tomorrow. Jotting down your worries and then physically setting them aside makes it a little easier to take your mind off of them, and coming back to them the next day will allow you to approach the issues with renewed vigor.