5 smart ways to use your lunch hour

If you regularly find yourself eating lunch at your desk, now is the time to stop all the no-break nonsense and get into a better routine.

Your employee gives you a lunch break for a reason, and the habit of not taking a break can impact your health. Endless sitting can cause back pain, but regular breaks can alleviate the pressure on your spine, reduce stress and anxiety, and can help prevent burnout. Time away from a problem can let your unconscious brain work on it, and fuelling up on brain food makes you more effective.

Not sure what you’ll ever do with all your new free time? Here are 5 smart ways to use your lunch hour:

  1. Up-skill. If you’re focused on getting ahead in your career, using your lunch hour to up-skill by reading an industry book, listening to a podcast for an online course, or even adding a new language to your skillset can be a great option.

    Go to the park, commandeer an empty conference room, or find a quiet space in a local café – just be sure to get away from your desk.
  2. Move. This is particularly important if you’re at a desk for most of the day. It’s wise to stretch regularly throughout the day, but taking the time to move your body is crucial. Take a brisk walk or go to the gym, and get some fresh air. Moving your body is great for your health, but it’s also an effective way to clear out the cobwebs and feel more energised for the rest of the workday.
  3. Run errands. Using your lunch break to tackle errands you would have otherwise saved for the evening or the weekend can be pretty satisfying, and will give you a reason to take a stroll and get away from your desk. The more errands you can achieve in your lunch hour, the more free time you’ll have to really unwind during the weekend.
  4. Indulge. Your break needn’t be productive – that’s why it’s called a break! Sometimes it’s nice just to go to the local sushi bar, listen to your iPod, and let an hour drift by in peace. If you want to really spoil yourself, make an appointment to have your nails done or treat yourself to a sports massage. You’ll feel good as new by the time you get back to your desk.
  5. Lunch date. Grab a co-worker or meet a friend who works nearby and have a lunch date. Pick somewhere with great food and a relaxing atmosphere, and spend your hour catching up on the latest gossip and news. Refrain from shoptalk and enjoy the company.

Mix it up! You might hit the gym one day, watch a TED Talk the next, and treat yourself to a 30-minute foot massage to wrap up the week. However you use your break is up to you – the point is to ensure you have one. You’ll be happier, healthier, and more productive for the rest of your working hours.