It's Thursday, and you're sitting at your desk. Your stomach rumbles. You glance up at the clock. It's finally lunchtime! What do you do? The way you spend your lunch break can have a major effect on how the rest of your workday goes. If you use your break to scroll through your phone, check emails, or (worse) just skip it entirely, your energy levels will keep declining as the day goes on. It's time to reclaim your lunch breaks, people! That 30-60 minutes are yours and yours alone. You can use that time to strengthen your body, calm your mind, and feed your emotional well-being, meaning you can return to work recharged. Here are a few empowering ways to make the most of your midday break.
1. Stretch your legs, empty your mind
Go for a walk around the block! Eat your lunch while you work, then when break time comes, pop in some earbuds or grab a friend and go for a stroll. It doesn't need to be a long walk to be an enriching one. Even a 15-minute walk will get the blood flowing through your legs (an issue if you sit at a desk all day) and help you burn a few extra calories. Not only does walking help your body feel better, but it also helps your brain. Taking a mental break from decision-making, emails, and communication can relax your mind, and you'll be able to return to work with a clear head.
2. Exercise your brain and be smarter
It doesn't matter what type of work you do from 9-5. From content creation to data entry, your brain needs to stretch every now and then. During your next lunch break, try focusing your mental energies on a brain game you enjoy. Maybe it's a crossword puzzle, maybe it's a bit of coloring – it's up to you! Using your break to exercise your mind in different ways will keep your intelligence and memory skills sharp. Here are a few apps that are great for a mental break:
- Try the New York Times for crosswords
- The Lake Coloring app is cute and you don't have to color inside the lines
- Try Mind Games for a mixture of puzzles
- Elevate hones different skills, such as reading, speaking, and listening
3. Feed your happiness through friendship
Studies have shown again and again that happiness directly correlates to having relationships with others. When you have friends, you are happy. As a working adult, you know that relationships are much harder to keep than they were in grade school and college. Taking the extra effort to connect with others benefits your levels of happiness. Use part of your lunch break to reconnect with an old friend via email, catch up with your sister over the phone, or meet up with a friend who works nearby.
4. Read a book and be more relaxed
If you're stressed out at work, sneaking away from your desk to read a book is a fantastic way to get away from that stress. For starters, reading a paper book gives your eyes a rest from all the screen time you've been getting since breakfast. Additionally, studies have shown that getting lost in a book (any book!) can reduce stress by up to 68%. Don't know what to read? Here are a few suggestions:
- If you're trying to find a book that's similar to the last one you read, try What Should I Read Next?
- Oprah always has amazing reads in her book club
- Whichbook let's you choose what you want out of a book, then recommends one to you
- Find a book club in your local area
5. Meditate to increase your concentration
Wouldn't it be nice to disconnect from your work-related agitation halfway through the day? Meditation can do that for you, and it doesn't have to be a lengthy process. If you are the type of person who frequently feels stressed at work, some deep breathing and mild meditation can greatly improve your mood. Meditation also increases your concentration, meaning you'll be more prepared to tackle the things that are stressing you out. Plug in your headphones, find a quiet space, and follow along with these videos:
- 5 minutes of mindful breathing
- Guided meditation (with soothing voice!) for five minutes
- 5 minutes of anxiety-busting breathing
6. Love yourself and do yoga
Much like going for a walk, a mini yoga session can increase your blood flow. Yoga also increases mindfulness, making you more aware of your eating habits and more accepting of your body. Doing yoga at work might sound like an awkward thing to do, but maybe if your coworkers see you using the conference room to reconnect with your third eye, they'll want to join you, too! There are lots of yoga videos online for you to follow. Try a quick five-minute yoga routine, or stay at your desk with this chair yoga practice.
7. Create more free time
Free up your afternoons by using your lunch break to complete one or two tasks from your to-do list. Go to the post office, write a thank you card, clean out your purse… Whatever is on your list, plan what you need in the morning to get something done at lunch, and get it done. Head back to work with a sense of pride over how efficient you are! Go you!
It is important to carve time out for yourself during the work week. At times it might feel like work is more important than self, but in the long run, that's never true. Your wellness is the most important. Focus on your body, enrich your soul, and give your mind space to relax. You are the one who is looking out for you, so be kind to yourself!