Most people take their lunch break at work five days a week – but very few know how to use it properly, get the most out of your break and use it for more than just a quick lunch.
Eating the same canteen food repeatedly at lunchtime will get you bored. The same building, the same faces – and then we continue to talk about the work and the new project over lunch. You would like to use your break to switch off, treat yourself to something good and start the afternoon full of energy. In addition, you have to do a few errands and would also prefer to move the gym session to the lunch break, as there are still a few appointments in the evening. So how do you use your lunch break most efficiently?
Statutory lunch break – your break times are mandatory.
First of all, there are legal regulations regarding your breaks at work. Both employers and employees must comply with these. If the working time is between six and nine hours, it must take at least 30 minutes. According to the Working Hours Act, anyone who works longer than nine hours must take a break of at least 45 minutes. That makes sense because those who work also need breaks – to recharge their batteries and relax minds and bodies. Working through to be able to go home earlier is not possible. Incidentally, the lunch break is not part of the working time. Strictly speaking, it describes the interruption of work and is therefore usually not reimbursed. Many full-time workers extend their breaks to an hour.
Young workers often work full time.
Around 20% of employed people between 18 and 24 in Germany often work without a break, especially in the service sector. The Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health concluded in a detailed analysis. About half of those surveyed gave the reason for not taking a break because of the amount of work.
This has devastating effects on health: physical exhaustion and chronic fatigue can result.
Recharge your batteries: 5 tips for your ideal lunch break
1. Don’t eat at your desk
If you think eating at your desk would be an ideal solution to save time and answer a few emails simultaneously, you’re wrong. You must get up during your break and see other rooms. You can’t focus on both things at the same time. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll quickly realize that you’re neither working properly while eating lunch at your desk nor particularly satisfied and full of energy after eating. The few emails that you answer during this time can quickly be done in five minutes in the afternoon – simply because your total concentration is here, and you don’t have to twist your fingers to type a proper sentence on the keyboard.
2. Take a walk
Movement gets the circulation going and strengthens the body and mind. Especially when the weather is nice, it’s worth walking around the block. A few minutes are enough. Do you still have to get your food? Then take a slight detour or the stairs instead of the elevator.
3. Put away the phone
You look at a screen all day long – you don’t want that to be the case during the break! Just leave the cell phone in the office and concentrate on your surroundings. Try to look far and relax your eyes. Do the exact opposite of what you do during work hours. If you don’t work on the screen but have to walk back and forth, put your feet up or sit on a park bench.
4. Exchange ideas with colleagues
Everyone is different here; some enjoy the peace during their break, and others need contact. You don’t have to be the same every day, but lunch breaks provide access to social activities. Those who maintain interpersonal communication at work are happier at work. Important: Don’t talk about the job!
5. Make a plan
If there is an important meeting after the lunch break, it isn’t easy to enjoy the holiday. Thoughts revolve around the appointment, and you feel stressed because you don’t want to be late or feel like you have to prepare something. So make a plan for yourself on stressful days: If necessary, put the break ahead of time so that you don’t have to go straight from lunch to the meeting and prepare everything to give your presentation during the holiday theoretically. No matter what moment would watch for, you will be ready, and therefore you can also relax during the break.
6. 60-30-10 principle
There is a formula for the best use of your time during the lunch break. The 60-30-10 principle describes the following breakdown:
- 60% of the lunch break is meal time
- 30% of the lunch break is exercise time
- 10% of the lunch break is the recovery time
So it would help if you devoted more than half of your lunch break to eat. Nutrition is more than just eating. It’s an emotional process. It would help if you had enough time for an enjoyable meal as slow as possible in the company. You will be exhausted and tired if you save time here and gobble up fast food or something similar. We recommend whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, drinking a lot (of water!), reducing sugar and salt, and carefully prepared food. There’s nothing wrong with a coffee after a meal either. Remember that coffee tends to make you tired instead of pushing you when you get used to it. These brain food snacks are also suitable for in between meals:
- Bananas: provide tryptophan, which has a positive effect on your mood
- Avocado: unsaturated fatty acids and lecithin for focus
- Broccoli: vitamins that protect against free radicals
- Oatmeal: with magnesium, good for concentration
- Buttermilk: essential amino acids and lecithin
- Blueberries: strengthen the ability to think
- Eggs: boost memory through choline
Exercise during the break without sweating
You like to exercise and would like to do so during your break, but changing to sports clothes takes time and going to the next meeting in sweat is just as uncomfortable for you. Exercises that provide some movement without exerting too much would be ideal. Small training sessions or office gymnastics with appropriate activities that involve mobilization and stretching are best suited here – which your back and neck, in particular, will thank you for. All you need is a chair, your desk, and, if you like, a yoga mat – and no extra sportswear. Stretch and breathe consciously.
This is also the concept of “Moving Lunch Break.” This involves a holistic movement concept that focuses on promoting employees’ health. An expert comes to the workplace and shows the employees specific exercises. They are training for 30 minutes once a week can have a positive effect!
Check whether you are planning your lunch break according to the 60-30-10 rule, and if this is not the case, try to reschedule your vacation. The effect can be more significant than you think.