People of Europe, it’s time to reclaim the lunch break! A 2016 CIPD study showed that only 30% of workers in the UK take a proper lunch hour – a paltry number. But taking time out from your working day can do wonders not only for your mental state but also your productivity.
Here are five ways to make your lunch work for you.
Fostering a healthy relationship with your co-workers is important. People who get on with their colleagues boast higher job satisfaction, greater productivity and improved overall happiness. If your workplace connections need a little TLC, your lunch hour is the perfect opportunity to grab that coffee or cook up that pasta. Put the work into a relationship and you’ll get more out, after all.
For the extroverts out there, meeting new people could be just the impetus you need to boost your energy for the afternoon. Let’s Lunch pairs you at a moment’s notice with others in your area. Reconnect with old friends or make new ones in your lunch hour. Who knows, you may end up boosting your network!
With inactivity a rising epidemic among our desk-jobbers, it’s not hard to see the easy fix: lunch hour exercise. International research indicates that a minimum of an hour’s activity is needed to offset the negative effects of our sedentary lifestyle. It might be more than your lunchtime allows, but something is better than nothing.
Can’t stand the thought of sweating your way through a 1 PM Barry’s Bootcamp? Simple: walk it off. A little walk with some music could be just what your stressed nerves need. Or catch up on some culture with an audio book. Or get learning with a podcast… The possibilities are endless. Just get moving.
Got an hour to kill? Why not soak up some beats. Research from the Royal College of Music and Imperial College London shows that watching live music events reduces the amount of cortisol – the stress hormone – in our bodies. And it doesn’t have to be classical. Many retail giants and some independent record shops host a wide variety of bands and artists, often at lunch times.
If music’s not your thing, you can always try art. Studies show that merely visiting a gallery can lower your stress levels. Even better, take an art class; the process of producing art improves both resilience and brain function.
Love a good book? Find one that meets at lunchtimes in your area. Better yet, if your company’s big enough, set one up at work. Not only will you get to spend an hour arguing over the merits of Donna Tartt’s latest, you may make some co-worker friends too.
You can hate on meditation all you like – it’s here to stay. Opt to chill out with a local class – many centres run them for free – or download an app like Headspace. Following a free sign-up, you can enjoy guided ten-minute meditations that promise to help you sleep better and stress less. And you’ll still have time left over for that water cooler gossip sesh.
The benefits of finding your zen are numerous. Studies show that meditation not only reduces stress but improves concentration, prevents flu and eases pain. Now that’s a productive lunch hour.
Want to boost your employability, learn a new discipline or deepen your understanding of your industry? Get thyself to a university… or a lunchtime lecture series. Numerous teaching centres offer talks, often free, on myriad topics.
Work somewhere more isolated? No problem; get online. The net is flooded with short courses that you can take in your lunch hour. With the entirety of the world wide web at your disposal, there’s no excuse
So next time you find yourself slumped at your desk, chowing down on that supermarket sandwich, take a good look at yourself. Then get up, leave your desk and do something better with your lunch.
Susanna writes for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency which specialises in sourcing candidates for internships and giving out graduate careers advice. To hire graduates or browse graduate jobs London, visit their website.
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