When things get busy, it’s typical to find a grab-and-go lunch and keep plugging away on the tasks at hand. While some days demand this kind of hustle, your lunch hour can be a valuable window in which to recharge and set the tone for the latter half of your day. In fact, taking a mindful break at midday can create mental space for extended productivity and provide the morale boost necessary to take on a new task for the afternoon. But how do you maximize that hour-long reprieve amidst a busy schedule? Here are a few ideas for inspiration, no matter what your tastes or preferred habits may be.
- Get Moving
Just ten minutes of light exercise can get your blood pumping and your energy renewed. Step outside and take a brisk walk around the block, or walk to your favorite sandwich shop instead of hopping in your car. Find ways to incorporate light exercise into your lunch hour routine and you’ll not only enjoy a chance to stretch your legs and get your eyes off of screens, but you’ll also reap the health and mood benefits of endorphins. Even extended stretching or mild calisthenics can provide rejuvenating relief in short order.
- Play Catch Up
Sometimes catching up with an old friend or family member can brighten your day and give you a morale-boosting outlet beyond the office. During your next lunch hour, why not combine a jaunt around the block with a call to catch up with your sibling or college buddy? Shifting your focus from work and centering instead on a comforting interpersonal relationship can really boost your mood and reinforce your personal values.
- Soak Up the Sun
If you’re tempted to eat your lunch at your desk while staring into the same computer screen that you’ve been working on for hours—think again. Sure, a busy schedule sometimes means making that sacrifice, but when your schedule and weather permits, try to take your lunch outside and disconnect from your office setting. Soak up the sun, feel the breeze, and lift your gaze to the horizon instead of toward your phone or computer screen. The mood-boosting benefits of time spent recharging outside are well-documented, and a change of scenery can give you the boost you need to power through your afternoon to-do list.
- Change Your Tune
Use your lunch hour to treat your senses. As you eat or get active, try queuing up your favorite music or the latest episode of your favorite podcast. If you focus on the same tasks and stimuli for too long, your brain will fatigue and your focus will erode steadily over time. Shift gears and treat your mind to some music or stimulation outside of your daily tasks. You’ll help yourself relax, recharge, and create a natural transition point for your ensuing afternoon workflow.
Your lunch hour isn’t just about being purely functional. If you want to maintain a steady rate of productivity and leave the office satisfied by the progress of your day—use your lunch hour wisely. As important as it is to nourish your body, also consider nourishing your mind. No matter what your chosen outlet may be, don’t overlook the power of a well-spent lunch hour and the positive benefits that are sure to follow.