Taking a Break at Work

We have all heard it before but taking breaks throughout the day at work is essential for good health. We were not designed to be head down bent over computers all day. Yet these days we need to balance this with the ever increasing demands of employers.

When I started work at age 18 in the early 1980’s, we had a ‘lunch hour’ and there was always talk of taking our ‘lunch hour’. At one time one of my colleagues wanted to go to the gym in his ‘lunch hour’ but found that an hour did not give him enough time, so he asked our Manager if he could have a bit longer. The Manager said he could have an hour and a quarter each day for lunch so he could go to the gym, and that we could all have an hour and a quarter for our lunch breaks each day as well to make things fair (even if we didn’t go to the gym!) Imagine that happening today!

It is the law that employees have to have at least half an hour for a lunch break, however, and I believe it’s important to get away from your desk during that time, and if possible take a walk outside, ideally in nature. This is something I have always strived to do even when doing very busy and demanding jobs. At one time I worked in an office next door to a cemetery and often walked there at lunch time. This amused my colleagues, yet was a very quiet and tranquil place and I always returned to work refreshed for the afternoon’s work. At another time I found a local keep fit exercise class that fitted into my lunch break and that worked really well too.

Often just some quiet time at lunch time can give you the break you need. I know someone who likes to go to a church at lunch time to meditate, eat his lunch mindfully and take in the peace and quiet of the church atmosphere. It can also be helpful to listen to relaxing music, read a book or have a quiet supportive meeting with a friend or colleague where you don’t talk about work.

It’s true that people really do work better when they have had a break during the day. So I urge you to be creative, find a local park, church or quiet place to take some time and space. Make sure you switch off and do something completely different from work. You will find that you return to work more refreshed and productive and ready for the rest your day.

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