Almost every workplace has a designated hour for lunch. Some people may take a bit more than hour, and some may take less. However, the worst thing to do is to not take it at all.
Not only has there been time carved out of your working hours for you to eat, but it also your time to decompress.
The inspiration behind this post came to me when I saw many people in my department spending their entire lunch break at their desks. They clicked and stared at their screens as 12 turned to 1 and then, their time was no longer theirs.
So why do we do this to ourselves?
I have to say that I am guilty of this too sometimes. On busy days, we just want to get the work over with; finish up that last task and THEN we can enjoy a nice lunch break. The truth is, we cannot predict what will happen and if we don't get away from our desks, we may just end up working through our lunch break.
Something I have realized is that this whole concept of "getting it over with" can be related to the idea that life's hardships are something we need to overcome to get to other side. However, adversity will never end and there will be another obstacle standing in your way or another task to do, always.
We often tell ourselves that we will leave earlier if we finish our work. Unfortunately, that is not true either. Although you work through your lunch break, this does not guarantee that you get through your entire workload by the end of the day. When 5 o'clock rolls around, you may choose to stay longer. Then when you leave at the end of the day, you are drained of any energy you had and feel irritated and stressed.
We believe that not taking our lunch break is a small sacrifice, but we also risk bringing our work frustrations home if we do not address them during the day.
I know that we are in the middle of a pandemic, so a lot more people eat at their desks since they have no where else to go. Because of this, we need to resist the temptation to work and change our environment.
If you are one of the lucky few who works at home all the time, you can use your lunch break to make yourself a nutritious meal at home using your stove or oven, or you could get take out at one of your favorite restaurants. You could even choose to spend time with your other family members if they are home as well.
If you are working from the office, it is very important that you take even a few minutes to enjoy the sunshine and get some fresh air. By doing so, you get your dose of vitamin D for the day, which regulates your mood and helps boosts your immune system.
Wherever you are, make time to be mindful during your lunch hour. It's 60 minutes but it can make a world of difference in terms of your mental health, and how you choose to show up in your everyday life.
I have made a conscious effort on days that I am in the office to put my computer monitors on sleep mode, and enjoy the food I am eating. Also, I have started taking walks almost everyday, which has drastically improved my mood and gives me something to look forward to. These walks have also allowed me to be more connected with myself and the world around me, instead of just going through the motions.
The most important thing is that you do not need to stay outside for an hour, but even 5 minutes is better than nothing at all!
If you can take care of yourself during your lunch hour, you may even be able to apply it into all areas of your life. You probably already know that I am a huge advocate for self-care, and lunchtime is the perfect way to build that into your routine. If you do not want to go outside, go near a window or do something that you enjoy. No matter what you do, choose to honor yourself and connect with the way that you feel.
Our bodies have ways of communicating with us when we are stressed. We can feel pain in our shoulders, we might binge-eat, we might be very irritable, but either which way we are not being good to ourselves. These responses show that we need to prioritize our mental health and put work second.
We cannot expect to perform at our best in work or in life if we neglect our wellbeing.
In the end, it all starts with you. Your choices define how happy or fulfilled you feel. You can choose to start a new habit today. Even if you take a small step forward, you are closer to living a life that makes you happier and more connected. So start by taking your lunch break and reclaim your time.