Top 10 Tips for... Making sure you take a break
16th May, 2017
We know that by law we’re allowed to take a break at work, but with increasingly busy schedules encompassing meetings, emails, deadlines and dealing with our customers and clients, it can be tricky to actually fit one in.
A lunch hour often feels like the Holy Grail or a treat. But taking regular breaks at work, particularly if you work in front of a computer screen all day, can be essential for both you and your employer.
Here are our top tips for making the most of your breaks at work:
1. Tuck into some brain food
Skipping lunch may seem okay if you have a tonne of work to complete by home time, or if you’re secretly dieting. But a lack of food means a lack of energy and productivity. Eating lunch is key to keeping your mind sharp and focused. Foods like fish, nuts, grains, seeds, whole grains, blueberries and avocado are all superfoods which will help fuel you throughout the day. You’re less likely to snack and to make healthier food choices if you plan a healthy lunch too.
2. Grab some exercise
The best way to get your endorphins going and to help you feel less stressed is to get away from your desk and blow away those cobwebs with some fresh air and exercise. If you’re sporty, why not set up a running or walking club or a regular Zumba or yoga class at lunchtime? You could even train for a local event or raise money for a charity to help inspire you. Doing something together will set a good example and encourage you all to take a break.
3. Enjoy lunch together
We all need to eat, so why not do it together? You might make new friends within your team, discover a delicious new sandwich shop or build relationships with the partners and clients you work with in a more informal setting. You could even set up a ‘bring and share’ lunch club or enjoy pay day pub dinners.
4. Think about mindfulness
Mindfulness promotes calmness and happiness and can help you manage your mental health. It involves giving your full attention to how you feel and what is happening in the moment. Taking time out at work to think about how you’re feeling can help you feel calmer and more able to handle negativity and stress. It can also help you manage chronic, physical conditions which may be affecting your concentration and ability to cope.
5. Consider ways to improve your concentration
You may not be doing yourself any favours if you decide to plod on through your lunch break. Taking even short breaks from your workload means your brain has the chance to recuperate and recover from any stress or anxiety you feel. This will improve your cognitive functions and ability to think creatively. You’re more likely to be alert and make good decisions, more quickly if you’ve not feeling mentally exhausted.
6. Think about your eye health
If you have a computer-based job it’s likely that you spend about eight hours a day or more staring at a screen. This can cause eye strain, headaches and blurred vision. Taking a break, even just to make a brew, go for a walk or flick through a newspaper, can reduce the discomfort you feel and boost your productiveness and concentration. You should think about resting your eyes for about 15 minutes for every two hours you’re working at a computer screen. You should also avoid looking at your Kindle, phone or tablet in your lunch break to give your eyes a rest – however tempting that may be!
7. Consider your breaks as a networking opportunity
If everyone consistently had their heads down at work and made no time to talk, our work/life balance would soon start to suffer and we wouldn’t be able to form any meaningful relationships with our colleagues. Networking shouldn’t be just about who you know outside your organisation. Sometimes, the informal conversations we have at break times can be the highlight of our day. Break times should be a time to relax and have those informal chats which bind us all together and help build a strong team.
8. Take a walk and boost your vitamin D
Spring is in the air with our days staying lighter for longer. It’s a beautiful time of year to take a walk and boost your vitamin D, which encourages the production of serotonin (the mood boosting hormone). Basically, a lunch time walk is bound to make you feel happier as well as refreshed.
9. Eat away from your desk
Ever heard the phrase ‘a computer desk can be dirtier than a toilet seat’ and shuddered at the thought? Eating at your desk every day is a recipe for a germ-filled disaster. Keyboards can easily get clogged with crumbs, coffee mugs leave unsightly rings on your worktop and leftover snacks can cause a stink if not cleaned away. Getting away from your desk to eat can be a good way of avoiding not only causing a mess but illness too.
10. Think about reducing aches and pains
Sitting at a desk all day without a proper break can lead to an achy neck and back, especially if you have a poor posture or uncomfortable furniture. Leaving the office for lunch and taking regular breaks will help stretch your spine and muscles, releasing any pressure, stress and discomfort. There are plenty of exercises you can do at your desk to help improve your flexibility, posture and muscle strength too. Why not look up some easy desk exercises on YouTube?
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