The impact of screen time on wellbeing is a separate issue, of course. The point really is that there’s nothing sustainable about working yourself to the point of burning out, both in the long and short term. Taking regular breaks from your work, whatever it may be, is crucial for your physical as well as mental health while the negative impacts of having lunch at your desk and not taking a pause shouldn’t be underestimated. A study published in 2017 found that when we take the time to relax and socialise during a lunch break, our wellbeing in the afternoon is improved in various ways: employees are more likely to return to work feeling confident, replenished and engaged, which can surely only be a good thing during the winter months when the dark draws in before many have even left the office.
When the days are busy and work is piling up, I’ve sometimes felt a sense of guilt about taking a break, and that is something I’ve decided to put an end to this winter. Instead, I’m taking more ownership of how I make the most of the hours during the working day. Even writing this, I noticed my language shift from taking ‘a lunch break’ to ‘my lunch break’ - a small observation but a recognition that the time is yours to take and a sign, perhaps, that I should try to feel less controlled by the clock and calendar reminders, and welcome the pause more positively.
I’ve found it’s easier to make the most of a lunch break if you purposefully plan the time you have. Whether it’s working through a list of errands (constantly.dashing.to.the.post.office.), ringing a friend or relative for an overdue catch up, or exploring a nearby neighbourhood, set yourself an activity for the duration of your break - not something to achieve necessarily, just something to do. Here are just a few ideas for ways to make the most of your lunch break in the winter months.