Working from home can offer you great freedom over your schedule—but it’s easy to take that freedom for granted. Virtual work can blur the boundaries between your home life and work life, as many people new to working at home, now forced to do so due to COVID-19 related restrictions are discovering.
One of the things you must do when working from home is ensure you take a real lunch break, just like you do when working in the office. And you should make the most of this time, even if the farthest you can move away from your desk is just a few hundred feet.
Making the most of the lunch hour can give you something to look forward to at the beginning of your workday. It is also a great way to refocus and energize the remainder of your work time.
To avoid falling into the trap of eating lunch at your desk, program downtime into your day to make the most of your midday break. Here are some tips for doing just that.
Eat something healthy.
It is “lunchtime,” after all. And traditionally, that means taking a break to eat something. A mid-workday break (no matter the hour) can be a time to literally refuel your body with food that will keep you going for the rest of your day.
Move, preferably outside.
Get up, and get moving. As a remote worker, you may spend hours at a time sitting in front of a keyboard. Even if you have a standing desk, or alternate sitting and standing throughout your workday, a lunch break can be the ideal time to enjoy a sustained period of physical movement.
Getting up from your desk periodically is always a good idea; aim for a 17-minute break every hour. But if you can make time to go outside – within the restrictions currently allowed, that’s an even better way to work in exercise, oxygenate your brain, and recharge physically.
Take a digital break.
Shut down your computer and turn off all electronic devices as a way to put up firewalls and separate your working self from your resting self. Consider it a mini “digital cleanse,” a brief period where you can take a tech break, even for a short time, and reconnect with yourself, nature, your surroundings—whatever you need to do to restock your energy stores.
And here’s a novel idea: read a book, even just a few pages or a chapter, to break free from the tyranny of electronics.
Take a power nap.
To be sure, napping’s not for everyone. But taking a power nap (as short as a few minutes and as long as 30 to 40 minutes) can help you get more done in less time over the remainder of your day.
Some power nap rules: Don’t put on your PJs, crawl back into bed, and curl up under the covers. Take your nap in a place where you don’t sleep at night—a sofa, day bed, or even a comfy chair. Close the shades, dim the light, and set a timer to keep from falling into deep sleep.
Sit up straight, close your eyes, and breathe. Practicing mindfulness, even for just a few minutes a day, can be the equivalent of hitting the reset button. Although you can practice mindfulness in almost any space (including your desk), consider finding a quiet spot away from your workspace for a lunch-break session.
Simply sit tall, let your hands rest in your lap or wherever’s comfortable, shut your eyes, and sit with your thoughts for at least five minutes. Make sure your breathing is smooth, deep, and even.
To take care of yourself is a far cry from being selfish. In reality, self-care means being in the best shape you can (mentally and physically) so you can do well for yourself, and others.
Sometimes, self-care can mean taking care of little things that add up to a lot. Spend your lunch break giving yourself a manicure at home, for example, or make a cup of your favorite tea or other beverage and listen to music that you love. You get the idea…take a little “me time.”