As I’ve been thinking about self care recently in my own battle against burn out, it’s made me realise something that should be really bloody obvious. Every day at work I am given a chance to relax and recharge and I don’t make the most of that opportunity.
The lunch break.
The lunch part is happening. Oh, that’s definitely happening. But the break part, not so much.
Sure, I break from doing work to check my emails, do a bit of internet banking, maybe tweak a few bits of my blog, check my social media. And that’s it, my time is up. Is that really a break?
And what’s more, I never take my full hour, I only take half an hour. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not something that’s enforced by my workplace, that’s my choice. I should take an hour, but I choose to take half an hour and I leave half an hour earlier.
The original reasoning was that I work somewhere that’s out in the sticks and there’s very little to do and no shops to go to. In the summer it’s lovely and I can go for a walk (in which case I’ll occasionally take the full hour and leave later) otherwise I sit and eat at my desk for half an hour which is just enough time to actually eat and then I get back to work.
But by doing that, I’m essentially prioritising getting home sooner over my own health. My eyes and brain are not getting a chance to relax and have a break.
So I’ve decided to actually have an hour lunch break from now on. I started it this week. Here’s how I decided I’m going to do it.
On nice, sunny days, I will go outside. I will go for a walk and find a couple of different routes so that I don’t get bored. I work in the middle of a forest so there are nice nature trails to explore and fields to walk through. It’s really peaceful and pretty. I could also eat my lunch outside, either by sitting on one of many benches or taking a picnic blanket and sitting on the grass. I’m going to encourage a few team picnics so others can come and join me.
On slightly colder or rainy days I’ll need other things to do that will keep me occupied so I’m not tempted to scroll through Facebook for the full hour – or work on my blog – as I want my eyes to have a break from the screen. I need a few different things to do so that this idea is actually sustainable too.
So I’m going to take in books and magazines to read. Yes it’s still using my eyes (there will be very little here that won’t require the use of my eyes…) but at least it’s not reading from a screen. I use a computer all day long so an hour break will do my eyes some good. I can listen to music, audio books and podcasts from my computer or from my phone. I can take in knitting to do. I can take in a notebook and jot down ideas for blog posts – yes it’s working on my blog so it’s not a break per se – but it’s not using the screen. And I don’t intend to do that full my full lunch break, every lunch break. Just if I need to mix things up a bit. I could even handwrite letters or cards to friends.
Do you need to reclaim your lunch break?
I’m really intrigued to hear how everyone else spends their lunch breaks. I suppose your options are affected by the kind of job you do and the type of place in which your job is located too.
My lunch breaks were quite different when I used to work in Brighton. As it was a city, there was much more on my doorstep, which had both its good and bad points. It was great for running errands, like if you needed to pop to the bank or buy a birthday present for someone you could do it in your break and save yourself the chaos of weekend shopping. On the downside it was more tempting to eat out rather than take in a packed lunch and buy ‘gifts’ for yourself! But I definitely save money on lunch now as I nearly always bring lunch in and there are no shops nearby to nip to in my lunch break.
Please let me know what you do and if you think there’s anything else I can add to my ‘rainy day lunch break check list’!
I’m really hoping it makes a difference in breaking up my day and helping to me to feel refreshed and re-energised each afternoon. A change of scenery at least has to help with creativity and productivity!