How often do you eat at your desk? A new report suggests 50% of Londoners eat at their desks at lunchtime and it’s seriously not a good idea. Breaks are law for a reason and you know you’ll end up back working before you should be if you’re just sat your desk. Going out for lunch or taking time for yourself during your coffee break every day really matters for your mental health and staying on top of productivity.
A recent INC Article stated that researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studied four groups of people. Each of the groups worked on a brain-intensive task for 50 minutes. The group that took more breaks had the highest mental stamina at the end of the 50 minutes.
Another article in The Atlantic stated that the highest-performing 10 percent of workers tend to work for 52 consecutive minutes followed by a 17-minute break. Those 17 minutes were often spent away from the computer, said Julia Gifford at The Muse, by talking a walk, doing exercises, or talking to coworkers.
Make like the French
In France they have an average of two hours for lunch, giving them plenty of time to relax, unwind, eat, socialise and even nap if it suits the mood. Unless you’re on flexi-time, it’s unlikely you’re going to be able to get your boss to give you two hours but embracing the time you do have, away from the office, is a valuable habit to get into.
Have a Scandinavian Approach to Breaks
In Sweden a coffee break, or as they call it Fika, is much more than simply taking five minutes out. Fika is about making the time to take a break and ensuring you appreciate the break whether it’s at home, away from work or anywhere you choose. In Sweden, fika is an essential part of everyday life and much more than something you can take or leave. Swedish people value their breaks and they recognise what they can gain from them and how they make their working and general lives more enjoyable.
What should you do in your Lunch Break?
We’ve established you should be out of the office and away from your desk but what’s next? Obviously you’ve got to eat, but how do you make the most of the time you have?
Eat the Right Stuff
For better functioning at work you need to feed your brain. Energy pill are not the answer. Instead, opt for something nutritious and filling to give you an energy boost and keep you alert. It’s so tempting to use lunch breaks as a chance to run errands or something you think is equally important, but a midday meal sets you up to ensure you can make it through the afternoon. Opt for a balanced lunch which includes carbs.
Get Away from it All
It’s not like you can get on a jet and fly away for half an hour but make sure you remove yourself from the working environment. Whether you go for a walk whilst you eat or simply find a quiet spot where you know you can just enjoy some peace, you’ll benefit from it. A break as short as 15 minutes away from your desk is proven to help keep up your concentration levels.
Enjoy the Great Outdoors
Unless you work out in the middle of nowhere it’s probably going to be tricky to truly appreciate nature but even heading to a nearby park or small green space can do wonders for your mind. Nature helps our bodies and minds fully relax and it can even boost motivation for the return to the office, refreshing you for the afternoon.
Whilst it’s not a lot of time, most of us have a lunch break long enough to spend a few minutes with a friend who works locally and enjoy some of their company. Even a few minutes with someone you really value as a friend can alter your mood significantly and takes you out of that over-stressed work mind set.