Here’s why you should be taking a lunch break

16 July 2017 | beando_admin

Is it lunchtime yet? If you’re in a workplace where lunchtime is still a thing, make the most of it. It’s an opportunity for you and your business to thrive.

Most of us have worked in places where lunchtime is a barely acknowledged point in the day for refuelling at the workstation. It aligns with a mindset that says, ‘keep going, you can relax later.’ But in reality that never happens; you just keep going and in the end there is no long-term benefit to the business or you, as energy, creativity and enjoyment are replaced by stress, anxiety and exhaustion.

So in case you were thinking that you could do without lunch, think again – particularly if you’re a manager .

Cognitive Overload

According to a study from UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Centre, the benefit of having a ‘lunchtime’ or frequent and highly organised ‘break-outs’,  away from the workplace,  preferably in natural surroundings, help with attention restoration and recovery from cognitive overload, while helping to relieve stress.

But intending to stop and use lunchtime positively is key. Don’t rush out to queue at the Post Office or bank, plan instead to do some inner work. Have an internal moment; outside, away from your workplace in order to open up, let go and shift your perspective.

For many years I led a busy architecture studio. I always made sure people got out of the office at lunchtime, particularly if they were wrestling with a really challenging design problem. There was never any point in sticking with the problem in the hope that the more you fretted over it the more a solution might appear. It never does.

I knew encouraging people to step out of an agitated mindset and into another of focused awareness was an effective way of solving the problem. That gap, that pause, that in-between space is an opportunity to thrive and is not, as our accountants thought, an un-billable and unproductive part of the day. We knew that these spatial pauses were a moment-by-moment invitation to stop, take stock and orientate ourselves towards where we are and what we are doing. A space where we can touch the moment and regain connection to insight and creative, purposeful flow. 

After all, that is exactly what our clients were paying us for. So lunchtime for us became part of our intellectual armoury and creative business model, crucial to productivity.

Micro meditation snacks

Touching the moment need not just be limited to your lunch hour. With practice you can begin to shape everything you do into a meditation. We teach techniques for micro-meditations. Compact moments of pause, where you can just stop, notice and check-in. 

When you’re in the workplace doing what you do it’s like you have a never-ending menu to choose from. Typing, walking, sitting, observing, breathing and moving can all be used as meditation on the go in the form of little snacks of pure awareness, stillness and calm.

These little micro meditations are vital. Imagine you could introduce micro meditations, say about 20 times a day, with each one lasting anything between 10 to 30 seconds. Over the working day you have completed a meditation which lasted a full 20 minutes. Now add that to say another 20 minutes you may have gained at lunchtime and you have completed a full quota of meditation right at the heart of your working day. And nobody noticed.

It’s all down to you – but you have to learn to do it.

So think  about what you’re going to do for tomorrow’s lunch. Go outside, walk down the street, sit in the park, read a few pages from that novel, or better still write a few pages for that novel you’re working on. Most importantly take the opportunity to shift your perspective inwards just for a moment for two… and breathe… and breathe… repeat!

Learn more about beanddo micro meditations 

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How meditation can help you be a better manager