7 ways to take control of your life during your lunch hourWorking through lunch has been proven to slow you down later in the day. Here's how to take back your lunch break.
When this study demonstrating the detrimental effects not taking a lunch break can have on both mental and physical fatigue was published in Academy of Management Journal this week, all we could do was nod and commiserate. Researchers found that employees who worked during lunch not only felt more tired at the end of the day, their co-workers noticed their fatigue. It also showed a marked difference in mood if the decision to work instead of taking a lunch break was the employee's choice or something their boss had mandated.
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With these two findings in mind, we spoke to Healther McCloskey Beck, the author of Take the Leap: Do What You Love 15 Minutes a Day and Create the Life of Your Dreams about how to take control over your lunch break. Her suggestions will not only relieve you of that end-of-day, just-want-to-crash-on-the-couch feeling, they'll also help turn down requests that break into your mid-day downtime.
"Step away from the computer and your phone. They just add to the mental clutter that makes it so hard to focus."
For now, ditch the mental to-do list
"It's very much a knee-jerk thing we do. As kids, we get into the habit of going and going, and it's hard to stop. If you're trying to breathe and clear your mind, but the ongoing litany of things you need to take care of won't disappear, do something you find peaceful that occupies your hands, like knitting."
Take a moment to breathe
"I practice what I call the art of 'not doing.' It's really important to stop and reset yourself. It's easier said than done, though, so I recommend sitting or lying down in a quiet, comfortable place and breathing deeply. Take note of what happens in your mind. In the beginning, it'll be hardyou might not even be able to make it to 10 deep breaths without everything from your day pouring back into your head. It's like exercising, though. The first day is always hard, but if you make a commitment to keep doing it, you'll get there."
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Or, get moving
"A lot of people have trouble calming their mind if they're sitting still, so take a walk or do a few yoga poses. I work from home, so I'll do some gardening or even take a shower. What's most important is making a complete change into doing something that's going to make you feel good. That's how to reset yourself and get energized for the rest of the day."
Start a ritual
"If you're in the city, and nature is something that really does it for you, go sit in a park. Some people will make a cup of tea. No matter what you do, try to do it at the same time every dayit's your commitment to yourself."
Note how you feel
"Write down what you did and why you enjoyed it. You're physically reminding yourself to stay committed to doing something that makes you mentally happy."
Set up boundaries
"Check in with your boss before you leave and let him or her know when you'll be available again. Block off the time on your calendar so people will know you're busy. If you're at your desk, put up a little note saying that you're trying something new and would prefer not to be disturbed right now. It will take a few days to train your coworkers to respect your new habits, but they'll realize that you're seriousand might even start doing the same thing themselves."
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