That one hour allotted for lunch can significantly impact the remainder of your day. It’s either helpful or hurtful for your health and productivity.
But the problem is, many people don’t know how to maximize their lunch break. So, how can you make the most out of it?
I’ve rounded up some tips on how you can boost your health and productivity by maximizing that crucial lunch hour.
Find out how your lunch meal, a power nap, and meditation can help make you healthier, and more efficient and effective at work. There are more tips to learn on strategizing your break in this list so read on!
Take a deep breath and relax
The first essential thing that you need to do is to decompress. You’re more likely to feel tired and exhausted from all the workload and meetings in the morning.
So, spend a good two to three minutes for deep breathing, and try to relax. These couple of minutes will allow you to clear your head.
Take your beast mode on to a halt, and give your body time to relax and settle down. When you’re in a relaxed state, you are able to strategize your next steps better with a wiser, and wider perspective.
Eat the right foods
Some people think that working hard means not stopping until you tick off everything on your to-do list. While it’s okay to want to finish all your tasks earlier, it may actually hurt your focus if you don’t take a break and eat.
Starving yourself isn’t a good idea at all as your body will be thrown off balance. You also run the risk of suffering from a headache or feeling dizzy come afternoon.
So, eat. But it’s important to note that you should try your best to stick to healthy meals. Eating a well-balanced, nutritious lunch is still the best way to go.
One way to do this is to prepare your own lunch. By packing your own meals, you get to control what goes inside your lunch box, and your body.
A well-balanced, healthy lunch is composed of a variety of nutritious foods like a protein-rich meal, nuts or seeds for snacks, fruits or veggies, salad, and dessert.
You can treat yourself to your favorite restaurant food that is friendly to your diet. Simply put, don’t deprive yourself of your cravings, but stick to a nutritious diet as often as possible.
Have a real break
Some people refuse to leave their desks at lunchtime to finish their tasks at hand. A working lunch may work in some instances but it’s not beneficial in the long run.
Savoring your break, even for 15 to 20 minutes straight, can help sustain your focus and energy throughout the day.
Your cognitive resources are gradually depleting as you make decisions, and pushing it to its limits can make things worse.
So, maximize your one-hour lunch break by actually taking a break. Leave your desk, enjoy your food, and do other activities that will help you recharge.
Remember that you only have an hour to savor your favorite meal, catch up with a colleague, and make personal phone calls. Spend your time wisely.
Run some personal errands
If you need to run some errands like buying a couple of grocery items, you can do this during your lunch break, too. Strategizing your lunch break will allow you to maximize your time and accomplish many things.
Just remember not to squeeze more errands than you can handle as this can stress you out. You’ll not only miss the recharging perks of a nice break but worsen your stress levels as well.
Take a power nap
Power naps help to reboot your brain and offer other incredible benefits. They help a lot in increasing your productivity and improving your well-being when done correctly.
Several studies show that naps boost memory and learning, improve alertness and attention, and enhance creativity.
The thing is, our bodies have a natural energy dip at around two o’clock in the afternoon, and this is a part of our body clock. This is we naturally feel sleepy.
This means if your lunch break is scheduled around this time, it’s a great time to grab that short sleep.
Savoring a good 20-minute nap will allow you to have more room for new information since sleep helps to empty that space that holds various information you’ve gathered during the day.
While tons of it may be cleared out, the most valuable ones are kept in long-term memory. Thus, naps also help you to memorize better.
Science reveals that there are tons of benefits to meditation. Several studies found that it can reduce stress, relieve anxiety, promote emotional health, improve self-awareness, and lengthen attention span.
Meditation can also help stimulate positive feelings and kindness toward yourself and others, improve sleep, and combat addictions.
In one study, “progressive relaxation” during lunch break was also found to reduce stress, and positively affect blood pressure, and sleep quality.
Perform stretching exercises
Today’s modern desk jobs have us glued to our seats for hours on end, and this may threaten our health. It can adversely affect our posture, cause undue strain to our muscles and joints, and contribute to a sedentary lifestyle.
Luckily, stretching exercises can help prevent these from occurring. Several studies also reveal that regular stretching can bring enormous benefits to health, and may even boost your productivity meter!
It can release the tension building up in your muscles, reduce stress, and allow your whole body to feel more relaxed.
Some of the quick but effective stretches you can perform during your lunch break include chest stretch, neck rolls, butterfly wings, spinal twist, forearm stretch, torso stretch, and leg stretch.
You can also perform other quick exercises during your break to wake your body and senses. If you feel like it’s impossible to perform your usual fitness routine during this crucial hour, you can try the scientific seven-minute workout.
Spend time outdoors
Spending time in natural spaces can be good for your health. Taking a good dose of fresh air, and sunlight can help drive away stress, and negative feelings.
If your office is somewhere near a park, grab the chance to spend time in nature, and take a relaxing walk. Studies also show that doing so may improve your attention span, allowing you to return to work with restored concentration.
You can consider yourself lucky if you’re working close to green, natural environments as research also found that those living in green urban areas reported reduced feelings of depression and worthlessness.
Refrain from using your screens
Most office jobs require you to face a screen for hours, and this may strain your eyes. So, give your eyes their well-deserved break, too.
Refrain from using your desktop computer, laptop, tablet, and phone during your lunch break. If you can’t fight the urge to check emails or text a friend, experts suggest you leave your desk. This way, your body can take it as a real recess.
Catch up with friends
Your one-hour lunch break also gives you the opportunity to catch up with friends who are working nearby. You can make use of this time to do something that feels fulfilling for your personal life.
So, go ahead and invite an old friend for lunch, and keep that work-life balance. If a friend can’t make it for lunch, make some personal calls instead or check on your family.
Regardless if it’s a personal interaction or by phone, use this time to socialize and catch up with the people dearest and closest to you. Remember to not turn your lunch break into a happy hour, though.
Interact with new people
Did your company just hire a new employee? Interact with your newest co-worker. The thing is, you may be so preoccupied with your work that you fail to notice those around you.
This becomes especially challenging if you’re working in a big company with hundreds of employees. So, take some time to interact with people you don’t know, and build a connection.
Who knows, this may even open bigger opportunities and growth for you!
Plan the remainder of your day
Just because it’s your free time doesn’t mean you can loiter around. Wasted time cannot be redeemed so make the most out of it. Spend the last couple of minutes in planning out the remaining tasks that you need to tackle.
Breaking it down in a list will let you see which tasks are a priority. Doing this will allow you to prepare and condition your mind into achieving a goal, boosting your productivity.
Some life-changing events can take place in just a minute. Imagine what more an hour can do. So, use your one-hour lunch break wisely, and make the most out of it.
Performing a quick stretching routine, taking a power nap, catching up with a friend, running some errands, and breathing in fresh outdoor air are some of the things you can do and enjoy during this time.
These activities provide a great opportunity for you to reboot and recharge and improve your health, wellness, and productivity.