Most of us can't wait until our lunch break comes. It's the mid point of the work day and gives us a chance to sit and do nothing. Sure, sometimes it's okay to take a break to relax and get ready for the second half - but that time is also a missed opportunity to do something that can help your overall health and well being. In a fast paced world, it's hard to find the time to do everything you need to get done. That's why it makes sense to take that 30 minutes (or hour) and spend it wisely. Here are five productive ways you can spend your lunch break.
Replying to Email/Bills/Etc.
Not the sexiest option on my list, but hey life calls. Everyone has a stack of bills requiring attention, or an inbox full of emails needing a reply. Spending just a few minutes dealing with them can clear up time later in your day for other activities, and alleviate some of the stress caused by ignoring important details that we hate to deal with.
When it comes to paying bills, many credit cards and even mortgage lenders have apps to make payments. I can log on and pay my bills during lunch ensuring I never miss a payment and keep my credit score looking good. Just get them out of the way and lift a weight off of your shoulders.
I like to dedicate a set amount of time for emails rather than check my inbox and break my focus every time I get a notification. I find that this keeps me more productive overall, and I don't waste time checking my phone only to find out that some store is having a sale (spam). Taking 10-15 minutes out of my lunch time to reply to email frees up time later.
One of my favorite lunch time activities is meditating. Probably three days a week you can catch me in a corner, eyes closed, practicing circular breathing and meditating for 5-15 minutes. I find that it helps me slow down my mind and focus on the hectic days, and refreshes me on the days I am tired from not getting enough sleep. Sometimes, a few minutes of meditation is enough to stop a headache in its tracks since mine tend to come from tension and stress.
To practice circular breathing, close your eyes and try to make your mind go blank. I imagine a ball of light starting on one of my feet traveling up my body and feel its healing power as I breathe in deep through my nose. I then imagine it circling around my head and 'washing away' all the stress and tension before breathing out deeply through my mouth. I exhale forcefully to push the tension and stress out. Then I start all over and imagine a ball of light traveling up the other side of my body.
Yes, I know it sounds a little silly, but I promise if you just give it a try you will feel the healing power of circular breathing.
One of the biggest excuses I hear from my clients for not working out is time. I get it. We are all pressed for time and after a long day at work, going to the gym just doesn't sound exciting. That is why it makes sense to get some form of physical fitness in during the day and lunch time is the perfect chance to focus on your health.
If you have an hour lunch break, you might be able to change clothes and hit the gym. If you're really lucky, your employer has an onsite gym to make use of. For most of us, 30 minutes is what we get for lunch and that means moving fast and staying focused. Pick a route and walk at a quick pace. It doesn't matter if its around the building or across the parking lot - exercise is exercise. Walking just a mile per day will burn around 100 calories. Over the course of a year that adds up to 10 pounds of pure fat if you do it everyday!
An added benefit of getting outside and walking on your lunch break is that a little sun exposure will help you wake up after being cooped up in an office for hours. This is a tip I have suggested to plenty of clients and friends and all have reported feeling better throughout the day and feeling more energized overall. It helps if you can find a work buddy to walk with - a little social interaction will make it more fun and keep you accountable. Check out my other article about the importance of a workout buddy.
If you don't know what bullet journaling is the concept is simple: using your journal you maintain lists of things you have done, will do, and want to do called future/monthly/and daily logs. All of these are indexed and coded by color or with special symbols and stickers. It sounds a bit complex but I promise it's not.
A bullet journal is kind of like a personal diary that helps you track the things going on in your life. It's a new concept for me that I was introduced to by a friend who gave me a book called The Bullet Journal Method for my birthday along with this complete bullet journal kit that is a really easy way of way of getting started since it includes a full set of pens, stickers, stencils, and a hard bound notebook at an economical price. Any notebook will do but to fully immerse in the experience a specially designed BuJo book will help you best benefit form the organization system.
Even though looking through my journal is a daily habit, I dedicate one lunch break per week to update and evaluate my plans. Give it a try. It's really useful if you have a lot of things going on that are hard to track, if you have trouble remembering due dates, find that you are not achieving goals, or if you suffer from ADHD like I do. I am finding that keeping a journal helps me stay productive and on track with my goals.
My final suggestion for being productive on your lunch break is to read a book. Sure you have heard it before - read more! Scrolling your social media feeds and reading story titles doesn't count, I mean sitting down and learning something. You don't have to read Shakespeare, but challenge yourself at least. Read a history book, a biography, the Constitution. Reading gives perspective to the news stories we hear and I find that reading history books ground me. My daily struggles are nothing compared to what our ancestors faced.
Reading is an important part of personal development and in that sense personal health. One of our writers previously talked about the importance of investing in yourself and it's an idea that I 100% agree with. Reading is a great start to personal investment, a chance to learn something new and you just might find something in those pages that ignites a new hobby or sparks a passion that gives a sense of purpose to your life.
With the ability to download apps like Kindle on any cell phone there is really no reson you can't read for 15 minutes out of your 30 minute lunch break even if it's just 1-2 times per week. Eventually you will finish that book and be inspired to start another one. I buy books on my phone as they pop up on sale and have the next one ready to go.
Comment below and tell me: What do you do on your lunch break? Can you think of any other productive ways to spend the time?
Brooke Bailey is a personal trainer, masseuse, and student in health and wellness.
She currently resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Follow her on Facebook.