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15 things you should do on your lunch break

24 January 2022

How do you spend your lunch break? Have you ever thought about how healthy your lunch break routine is?

If your answer to the first question is either: a) “I devour my sandwich with one hand and type with the other.” or b) “Lunch?! Who has time to eat lunch?” then your answer to the second question is probably no.

The benefits of establishing a good lunch break routine are huge - we all need time to recharge and re-energise. We shouldn’t feel rushed, or worse made to feel guilty for taking the breaks we are entitled to and need.

Here are some tips to optimise and enjoy your lunch break:

#1 Pause and breathe

Halt everything for the first couple of minutes of your break. Make a plan for how you will spend this golden time.

Take a deep breath, relax, and try your best to banish work-related thoughts from your mind.

#2 Establish a system

Set up a system which will allow you to enjoy your breaks uninterrupted and also prevent your return to a scene of devastation at your desk.

Perhaps set up an out-of-office alert, explaining what time you will be back at your desk to respond to emails. Or ensure that someone on your team knows your phone number in case of emergencies while you are logged out of your emails.

#3 Get organised

Complete time-sensitive tasks in the morning before your break so you don’t feel the weight of pressing deadlines looming over you as you tuck in to your lunch.

#4 Get some space

Avoid eating your lunch at your desk. It will be harder to resist the temptation to take a peek at your emails. It won’t end at a little peek, and suddenly you have forgotten your sandwich and it is 16:30.

#5 Feel the fresh air

Stretch your legs, go outside, and deeply breathe in the fresh air.

Sitting too long is bad for posture, productivity and mood. And fresh air is beneficial for clearing thoughts, increasing your oxygen levels and improving your concentration. Two health benefits in one lunch break - how efficient!

#6 Enjoy your food

It can be tempting to skip eating when you feel wrung out from a hectic work morning, but this can have a drain on your ability to concentrate and your mood.

Enjoy your food. Try to eat healthily where possible, but treat yourself at least once a week. You’ve earned it!

#7 Make connections

Enjoying being in someone else’s company can have huge benefits for your wellbeing.

Having lunch together is a great way to build your relationships with co–workers, and especially for getting to know new colleagues.

But be careful to avoid talking solely about work. Introduce a 5-minute rule in your lunch gang - the first 5 minutes can be used to moan about work or update each other on your latest projects, but after 5 minutes work is a banned conversation topic. This will lead to stronger relationships with colleagues and protect your breaks.

#8 Reconnect

Catch up with an old friend either in-person (if you are lucky enough to work nearby), over the phone or by video call.

Socialising with a friend from outside of work is particularly helpful if you often find yourself stuck down the always-talking-about-work rabbithole.

#9 Re-energise

Go for a walk, visit the gym, or attend a lunchtime yoga class. Getting your body moving, even if it is just in a slow way, will refresh your mindset and shake off any tension caused by sitting at a desk.

#10 Network

Maybe you already have your dream job. Maybe you just haven’t found the right fit yet.

Either way, networking can increase your success at work, open your eyes to other opportunities which you didn’t know existed, and allow you to connect with others with similar experiences.

#11 Avoid blue light

Whether your job involves you glueing your eyes to a computer screen or not, avoiding blue light devices on our lunch breaks is beneficial for our health and mental wellbeing.

#12 Shake up your routine

Try new things and keep your lunch breaks as varied as possible.

Maybe on Monday you decide to run some personal errands, but on Tuesday you try a yoga class, maybe Wednesday becomes pizza day, on Thursday you reconnect with an old friend, and on Friday you network with colleagues.

Keeping your break routine-free will make it feel more like a break and will help you to look forward to it as you grind through the morning.

#13 Destress

Take this time to check in with yourself. If you feel stress or tension in your body, seek out some mindfulness. Listen to relaxing music as you walk outside and enjoy nature. Write in your journal. Practice mindful breathing or meditation.

#14 Time

Don’t cheat yourself of your full lunch break. If you’re given an hour, use it. It can be difficult if everyone around you deliberately takes short breaks, but the benefits of being fully recharged are paramount.

If you find that your break is too long, spend the end of your break preparing to restart work.

#15 Prepare

In the last few minutes of your break, prepare to work. Tidy your desk, plan your afternoon and highlight what you should be prioritising. Make yourself a warm drink and get a glass of water - there’s no high like hydration!

Making the most of your lunch break to recharge and re-energise is something for which you will thank yourself as you tackle your afternoon tasks.