The other day I looked out of my office window and thought how lucky I was to live in such a beautiful city as Bristol.
So taking advantage of the gorgeous spring day I threw on my trainers and went for a quick twenty-minute walk along the harbour. I came back had a salmon and avocado wrap followed by a banana and then sat down for the afternoon feeling more energized and focused than I had 45 minutes earlier.
So ladies I have a question for you. Do you take your lunch break?
“No, of course I don’t” is the usual reply. Followed by “I’m far too busy”, “It’s not encouraged in my office” or “I will be at work even later at the end of the day if I take a break”.
If you are the 1 in 5 who does take a lunch break then well done you. I hope that your colleagues learn from you as I can imagine that you are a lot more focused than they are in the afternoon.
If you currently aren’t taking a lunch break then it’s time to reassess and claim back your break. If you’re thinking to yourself: “I’d like to but I just don’t have time” then check out my latest blog for why you need to do it.
The benefits of a lunch break, even if it’s only for twenty minutes, can make a huge difference to your afternoon’s productivity. So it’s a shame that so many people work in a culture where lunch breaks are frowned upon. Or, worse still, not taking them is seen as something commendable – as saying ‘I’m far too busy and important to have a lunch break.’
I’m sure you don’t really need me to tell you that no one is that important. Nor how beneficial taking a break is. But if you’re reading this blog it’s likely that you don’t – so let’s remind ourselves:
1. Increased energy
By taking a break, especially if you’re able to get some fresh air and exercise, you avoid that afternoon slump so common at about 3pm. This is when the typical lunch of sandwich, crisps and a chocolate bar results in energy levels plummeting and a struggle to stay awake rather than getting work done.
2. Higher productivity
As you benefit from an increase in energy you’ll find that you’re more productive because your concentration levels have increased making it easier to focus on your work. If you’ve been lucky enough to get a walk around a park you may find this a good time to do any creative work.
3. Team building
Should you go out for lunch with your colleagues then this gives you an opportunity to build on your relationship with them and form stronger connections with those that you share the office with.
If you’ve been working on a project in the morning that you’re struggling with then you could ask for their help or opinions and perhaps brainstorm some ideas that you hadn’t considered. They may have experienced similar problems and you could find that, when you return to your desk, you have the solution.
4. Fresh perspective
By taking a break you can return to your desk with a fresh pair of eyes. That way you’ll find it easier to spot any mistakes that you may have made on any drafts you were working on. Plus you’ll have a clearer idea of what decisions need to be made to complete your work that afternoon.
5. Try new places
If you’re going out with your colleagues, as well as building a stronger team relationship, lunchtime might be a good opportunity to try new any new restaurants near the office. Plus there’s the additional benefit of taking the time to enjoy your food. Isn’t that better than a hastily eaten BLT at your desk? Or worse still devouring the contents of the biscuit tin. There’s a road to piling on the pounds if ever there was one.
6. Back to nature
If you’re lucky enough to work near a park then lunch is the perfect time to get some fresh air and exercise. It will help improve your afternoon mood and levels of concentration and reduce your stress levels.
Invite your colleagues along with you and you can get fit together. Getting outside will also top up your Vitamin D level, which encourages the production of serotonin (a hormone that plays an important part in the regulation of mood). Taking a break from your desk and moving around also prevents the onset of musculoskeletal disorders.
If you’re managing a team then encourage everyone to take a break. You may find that you notice reduced sickness and lower turnover as you have happy staff and an increase in customer service. With these benefits can you afford not to take a lunch break?
Still not convinced? Why not give it a try every day next week and see the benefits for yourself. Go for lunch with colleagues, go for a walk together (ideally in a park), read a book, do a spinning or yoga class if there is a gym nearby and enjoy taking a break and the benefits that come with it in the afternoon.
So, put it in the diary and start on Monday. Don’t feel guilty that you’re taking a break and grab your whole team so that you can all benefit.
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F: Caroline Arnold Coaching