Supercharge Your Lunch Break

An alternative to eating lunch during your lunch break

Image credit: Curtis MacNewton.

Most people spend their lunch break working or eating, and sometimes both. But I have another suggestion: take a beneficial break. Physically leave your desk and engage in a beneficial, non-work activity that’ll prepare you for your next work session.

I’ve written previously on the benefits of breaks, and a midday break is no exception. I find it professionally and personally effective. I have a few minutes to mentally detach from work, let my ideas coalesce, and return to work refreshed.

A beneficial lunch break for me involves reading a book or going for a short walk. Reading is a mental diversion; and reading a few pages each day, just over lunch, adds up to several books each year. Walking is also helpful not only for the exercise, but it’s also when some of my best ideas occur. And it’s easy to see why: my mind has a chance to relax and process everything it’s been doing and learning for the past few hours.

Other people use their lunch break to work out. If your job allows that flexibility, then it’s certainly worth trying. Exercise is invigorating and it’s a great way to give yourself a surge of energy for the afternoon. Still others find meditation or yoga relaxes the body and clears the mind.

All of these options have something important in common: you’re engaged in an activity — reading, walking, working out, or meditating — that leaves you relaxed, refreshed, and ready for the afternoon ahead. That’s why I call them beneficial breaks. In contrast, surfing the web at your office desk or checking social media feeds on your smartphone can leave you no better off than you were 30 minutes before. Now, your mind is full of random information and you still feel lethargic.

Running errands can also leave you worse off. Here’s the scenario: you’ve got 30 minutes to get to the store and back. You’re stressed before you leave knowing that you’ll be pressed for time. Inevitably there’s a line at the store, and you’re worried you’ll be late for your 1 P.M. meeting. Ultimately, you got the birthday card to send to your niece, but at a consequence — you return to the office frazzled. Try one of the suggestions mentioned above and see how you feel physically and mentally.

Many people claim they’re too busy to take a lunch break and stay cemented to their office chair all day long. However, research has proven the benefit of breaks, and the best way to ensure you get a lunch break is to prioritize it. You find a way to make it to Starbucks in the morning and to check your smartphone regularly, right? You should prioritize a lunch break too — even if it’s only for a few minutes.

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Programmer and Writer: | | @amymhaddad