For many of us, the working day can become monotonous, and this can really hinder our productivity.
A lot of us have tasks that need to be completed before the end of the day — having free reign over how to go about our work days is a luxury most of us just don’t have.
Our lunch hour is the one part of the day that is ours to take advantage of.
It’s a time we should be using to its full potential, and not just sitting at our desks eating lunch.
Through the years of working an office job, I’ve been exploring new ways to enjoy my lunch breaks instead of wasting the one part of my work day that I can call my own.
1. Eat the Right Foods
While this may seem like an obvious one, I think you’d be surprised just how many us of don’t eat the right foods during lunch time.
It may be tempting to eat a sugar-filled lunch for that extra boost of energy, but you’ll regret it later in the day when you experience a sugar crash. Feeling irritable, lethargic and having difficulty concentrating is a sure-fire way to drop your productivity levels.
Fortunately for us, there are items nutritionists call superfoods that can help with a number of problems we experience during the work day.
Instead of reaching for those sugary snacks, opt for popcorn instead. That’s right, popcorn! It’s full of complex carbohydrates that help sustain energy throughout the day.
Just bear in mind it’s probably not best to smother your popcorn with butter, salt or sugar as these are the ingredients that give popcorn a bad name.
Other superfoods include dark chocolate for increasing blood flow to the brain, blueberries for improved memory and almonds for a pick-me-up in mood.
For all you writers out there, Jeff Maehre touched on the best brain food to get your creative juices flowing.
It’s no secret that regular exercise is linked to an improvement in health. So why don’t we all do it?
There are endless excuses, from being unable to find time to a lack of energy at the end of the day. But if we really put our mind to it, we could all schedule in enough time to see some real benefit.
Many of us find it hard to make time after work for exercise, so why not take advantage of the time given to us during our lunch break? It’s ours to use how we wish, and taking a stroll outside for 30 minutes is sure to leave us in a better mood than if we just sat at our desk for another hour.
An office environment can be stressful, especially those with deadlines to meet and critical tasks to complete. Taking a 30-minute walk is an inexpensive and effective way to relieve stress, improve your general fitness and feel refreshed.
The notion of napping on the job may be alien to you and probably your employer, but hear me out.
It’s well documented that the likes of Winston Churchill and Albert Einstein all enjoyed a good power nap, and for good reason.
Participating in important presentations, complex problem solving and meeting up with clients can take its toll on your energy levels, which can leave you feeling lethargic during the afternoon.
Napping for around 20 to 30 minutes allows your body and brain to recharge itself, allowing you to keep on with the rest of the day.
This time-frame is ideal as it fits well into your lunch hour and also makes sure that you do not go into a deep sleep, which could leave you feeling groggy.
It should be said that having a quick 40 winks while sitting at your desk is not ideal. Napping at your desk is uncomfortable and you would be surrounded by distractions. If your place of work does not cater to nappers, suggesting a place to your boss will be the most logical step forward.
4. Change of Scenery
Sitting in the office lunch hour after lunch hour can end up becoming stale. Although you may be on your lunch break, others may not be, and chatting about work will always be a temptation.
Getting out of the office and thinking about nothing but that cheese and ham panini you fancy at the local deli can be surprisingly beneficial to your working life.
Becoming burnt out at work happens to people more often than you might imagine, and this can be partly down to the fact that their lives fully revolve around it.
Don’t get me wrong — being dedicated to your job is a great trait to have —you just have to be careful not to become burnt out. Burnout will leave you feeling unmotivated and unproductive.
So instead of opting to eat lunch at your desk, go for a walk with your co-workers or visit the local deli and get some fresh air into your lungs. If anything, it gives you the opportunity to socialize with your coworkers outside a professional environment.
In this digital world, many of us consider ourselves always on or always available. While our boss will appreciate this, our minds and bodies certainly do not.
Always being available creates a world where all we think about is work. While we can sustain this level of commitment for quite a period of time, there will come a point when it all gets a bit too much.
Letting ourselves go from technology such as social media, emails and phone calls, just for an hour a day, will help us gather our thoughts and hit the ground running once we’ve come back to normality.
Our lives are determined by electronic notifications on our computers or smartphones, and I’m sure it will be oddly satisfying to relinquish those messages, if just for one hour a day.
6. Run Some Errands
Throughout this article I’ve mentioned that your lunch break is your time to do what you like, and that feeling continues to be strong when I talk about running errands.
We all have short tasks that we need to complete, such as grabbing dinner for that very evening or popping to the post office to send off those well-written birthday cards.
Whether you want to or not, they need to be done, and using your lunch break to complete these errands just makes sense. It will take some weight off your shoulders — you’ve managed free up some time before you head home for the evening.
Just be conscious of the time. Give yourself enough time to sit down and eat and to complete the errand. There is no point rushing around for an hour, only to sit back down at your desk stressed because the line at the post office was taking forever.
Read, yes read! And no I don’t mean popping onto Facebook or Twitter to catch up on those high school friends who you haven’t seen in 10 years.
Giving yourself the time to get lost in a story will enable you to take your mind off all the stressful things of the day.
There are countless times during our working days where things just seem to overwhelm us. Having something that can transport us away from that, even for half an hour, can have a huge impact on our stress levels, and reading a book can do just that.
While all these ideas are beneficial, it will probably be a bit too much to take all of them on at once.
Instead, try to schedule some of these in over the next few weeks, and see what works out best for you.
Also, if you have any suggestions that people could try on their lunch breaks, why not let us know in the comments section below?