For many of us, spending up to 40 hours a week at work involves sitting down at our desks and looking at a screen for a majority of the time. This can have serious negative effects on our physical and mental health in the long run, so making sure you’re doing whatever you can to maximize the free time you have in your workday can make a world of difference. Most employees typically have an hour-long lunch break worked into their contract, but have you ever thought about how you can use that time a little more productively relative to your health? The hour should be contributing to your day, rather than giving you more work to do. Try some of the following ideas, encouraging your colleagues to do the same, and watch morale in the workplace increase tenfold.
A Quick Walk and Some Fresh Air
Many people underestimate the power of a quick walk around the block, getting some fresh air and burning a few calories. Not only does this help to release endorphins, but you’ll also be integrating yourself back into nature, reminding yourself that you are more than the label work tries to put on you. Doing so for ten minutes each day leads to nearly an hour of exercise a week, leaving you feeling better, more mindful in general, and able to tolerate life’s agitations a little more easily. Ask a friend to join, and before you know it you may even encourage a “walking club” at the office!
Try and Share Some New Foods
Lunch is typically used to eat a meal, but you don’t need to spend the full sixty minutes consuming food, especially if you’re buying junk food. Why not make lunch a more exciting experience by pulling in a few of your colleagues and asking to do a monthly “food exchange”, where each Friday everyone cooks a meal that is related to their heritage, and you do a bit of a food swop. This not only encourages you to bond with your colleagues outside of the confines of work (go to a nearby park for the swop if you’d like a change of scenery) and perhaps you will discover a new culture that you’d like to explore a little further.
Social Interaction Away From The Office
Taking a drive to a nearby location and grabbing a coffee is a great way to break the monotonous tone in a day, especially if there is tension at the office. Taking a step back for yourself, even if you do it alone, can make all the difference in how the rest of the day plays out. Grab a pen and a notepad and doodle as you sip your cappuccino, or write down a few thoughts and express your creativity while spending a bit of time inside your head. Never underestimate the power of taking a breather to check in with yourself, particularly if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the environment or you need to center yourself before approaching your next task.
Avoid Other Screens Where Possible
Last but not least, your lunch break should be a screen-free zone. Most of us spend upwards of six hours a day staring at a screen, and not only does this increase the chance of getting a migraine, but it puts a lot of strain on your eyes. Taking a break over lunch is the perfect way to regroup and do something else, giving your eyes a chance to rest in the process. Take things a step further by adding a ninety-minute phone break for right after work finishes, to double up on the time you give your eyes to rest. This will give you the energy to focus on other things, like preparing a healthy meal, or deciding what you want to do with your night.