I’ve been working full-time in an office for just over four years now. If you do the maths, that adds up to around 1300 days of work. I can honestly say I’ve taken a lunch break on at least 90 % of those days. I know right, I spoil myself! With only 1 in 5 office workers regularly taking lunch breaks, I’m definitely in the minority here (especially in the fast-paced media industry). But I realised early on that I’m just not cut out for sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day without a break. I find that even just stretching my legs and getting some fresh air for 15 minutes goes a long way in boosting my productivity for the rest of the afternoon.
It seems that science is on my side, too. A recent study shows that employees who take breaks have more stamina to power through their workload. Not only were these workers more motivated and energised, they also reported increased job satisfaction and less headaches, eyestrain and lower back pain.
Of course, what you do in your lunch break makes all the difference. As anyone who’s ever been to a boozy pub lunch can tell you, it doesn’t usually make for a productive afternoon in the office. Personally, I like to spend my lunch in one of two ways. I’ll either recharge my batteries by doing an activity I enjoy, or I’ll use it to free up my evening by getting things done. Whichever option you choose, it’s safe to say it’ll be better than scoffing down a soggy sandwich at your desk! Scroll through for our 7 favourite ways to get the most out of your lunch break.
1. Get active
Let’s be honest: it can be really hard to find the motivation to exercise in the morning. But by the time 5:30 rolls around, all you want to do is go home and veg out. The solution? Train in your lunch break! So many gyms offer 45-minute group sessions at this time of day to cater to lunchtime exercisers. Services like ClassPass or AnyClass are great for this, because even if your gym isn’t near your office, you’re bound to find one that is. But even if you can’t afford to pay for a service like this, you can still train in your lunch hour. Just head to a local park and find a spot to do a bodyweight circuit. We guarantee you’ll feel so much better for it once you get back to your desk.
2. Walk it out
Don’t have the time (or the shower facilities) to do a whole workout in your lunch break? You can still get active without getting your sweat on. Just lace up your sneakers, pop in your headphones and get walkin’! Research shows that workers who stroll for at least 30 minutes at lunch time are far more enthusiastic and focused than those who don’t. Got a midday meeting? See if you can change it to a walking meeting. Studies indicate that walking while talking increases your creative output by 60%.
By now, we all know that we should be meditating regularly. But sometimes life gets busy and we barely have a moment to think, let alone get our zen on. It’s during those chaotic periods that we need meditation the most and the perfect time to slot it in your lunch break! Even just sitting in quiet contemplation in a park for 10 minutes or so will help you stay calm and focused for rest of the day. Better yet, if you’re luckily enough to work near a meditation studio, pop in for a guided class!
4. Work on your side hustle
Whether it’s a blog, startup or Etsy store, it seems like almost everyone has a side hustle these days. It’s a great way to expand your skills or supplement your income, but the trouble is finding the chance to do it when you already work full-time! To save yourself waking up at the crack of dawn each morning, why not squeeze some passion project time into your lunch break? Just pack your laptop and head to a nearby cafe with wifi. This works best if your side hustle is quite different from your day job. Otherwise, you’ll just feel like you worked through your lunch break!
5. Life admin
You know those mundane tasks you constantly put off – like booking your dentist appointment or posting a parcel? Your lunch break is a great time to tackle them. Not only will finally ticking them off your to-do list make you feel awesome, it’s also a great opportunity to get out and about for a walk. Talk about a win-win!
6. Read a book
One of my favourite ways to unwind on my lunch break is to take a great book to the park. No matter what you’ve got going on in the office, reading will allow you to escape it for an hour. Bonus points for getting into nature, which has been proven to significantly boost your productivity. Need some new books to add to your reading list? These ones will change your life.
7. Meet a friend
Meeting up with a friend outside of work for lunch is a great way to break up your day. For that hour, it almost makes you feel like you’re at Sunday brunch rather than the office! Don’t have any friends who work in the area? Invite a colleague who you get along with well out to lunch. Just don’t spend the entire time talking shop — it’s called a break for a reason!