As we have entered our second year of the global pandemic, working from home remains in place for many employees around the world. Whilst the exit from lockdown in the UK and returning to the office appears to be on the horizon for many, it is important to keep in mind that a work-from-home and office-based working environment may be here to stay beyond the pandemic. Therefore, adopting or maintaining a healthy lifestyle when working from home is very important. This can be achieved by optimising your lunch break.
Some of you may have been working from home since the beginning of the pandemic, and some of you may have only just entered the world of remote work. Regardless of which person you are, you must make sure you always take your lunch break. The problem with working at home is that you can become immersed in a task when in your own environment, and when you don’t have a colleague popping over to say “Do you want to grab a coffee?” It is very easy to simply not take a break at all and eat your lunch at your desk. This is an unhealthy way to work, and it is so important to not get into this habit. If you are someone who struggles with taking that break, consider scheduling your lunch break into your diary.
Plan your day and map out the tasks you want to accomplish, and break them down into morning and afternoon activities. Scheduling a lunch break in between these activities is a good way to separate the day. It will give you a goal to work toward in the morning, and it gives you time to relax and recuperate before returning to work for the afternoon. If a morning task took longer than planned, that’s okay. You can keep the schedule flexible, but make sure you take the break. Now you’re on your lunch break, it’s time to think of some healthy ways you can utilise this time. Consider some of the following:
One of the benefits to working from home is that you can prepare a lunch that you wouldn’t necessarily be able to do when in the office. There are plenty of healthy lunch recipes online that you can experiment with. What you eat can affect both your physical health, and your mental health. It can help to give you a clear mind, positive outlook, and better ability to focus on the tasks you need to achieve. So take advantage of having the kitchen readily available, and seize the opportunity to get creative with some healthy and exciting meals.
Working from home could cause eye strain, headaches, and a worsened mood when staring at a screen for too long. When your lunch break arrives, the first thing you should do is step away from that computer. Lock the screen, close the lid of the laptop (unless you have some very important code running in the background..), and take a well-deserved healthy break away from the screen. Consider reading a paper-copy of a book, or listening to music, or you could even learn how to play a musical instrument.
If using your phone on your break, you should consider turning off email notifications if your work account is linked to your phone. If work notifications pop up on your phone when on your lunch break, you will naturally want to read them. If you can see that the email is asking you to do something, you’ll just be thinking about that until you go back to work. So, unless you have a valid reason otherwise, keep the separation from work and lunch, and turn off those notifications.
The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week this year was Connecting With Nature, and now the week has passed you should consider maintaining your connections with nature as part of your lifestyle. One way to do this could be to integrate that into your lunch break. If the weather is nice, spend your lunch break outside. Eat you lunch outside, go for a walk, get involved in some gardening, or do some outdoor meditation. There’s plenty of options to enjoy the outdoors and connect with nature on your lunch break!
In addition to improving your physical health, exercising is a great way to improve your mental wellbeing, and one of the great benefits to working from home is that you can exercise without the hassle of carrying your exercising clothes to work with you. Exercise could involve anything from going for a leisurely walk, to a lengthy run or cycle. If the weather is bad, find an online exercise class to complete in your home. Most importantly, do an activity that you enjoy. You’ll feel better for it and rejuvenated for the afternoon return to work.
Following the latest government guidelines in the UK, you can now meet indoors in a group of up to 6 people (or a group of any size from 2 households), or with groups of up to 30 outdoors. With that in mind, arrange to meet with a friend on your break. Socialising is beneficial to your overall mental health as it can boost your sense of happiness and wellbeing. Be sure to keep up to date with the latest guidelines and only do what is allowed. If you are unsure about the idea of meeting face-to-face, schedule a phone call with a friend. This way you are socialising but also taking a break from the screen.
If you’re having a particularly difficult morning and you feel a bit groggy, consider taking a nap to recuperate for the afternoon. However, it is important to keep in mind that you do not want to nap for too long. A 15-20 minute “power nap” should be enough to give you that boost to feel alert and ready to take on the tasks for the afternoon. Make sure you set an alarm to avoid falling into a deep sleep.
Healthy skin creates a healthy mind, so consider spending your lunch break with a healthy skincare routine. A few times each week, put an exfoliating face mask on during your lunch break. This can help to clean your pores, hydrate the skin, and fight acne, in addition to making you feel great and give you that boost for the afternoon.
We hope this blog will help you to optimise your lunch break in a healthy way, which will in turn help you to manage your mental wellbeing. For more guides to improving mental wellbeing, see the NHS website for 5 steps to mental wellbeing.
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