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Reset Your Day: 5 Ways to Maximise Your Lunch Break

Reset Your Day: 5 Ways to Maximise Your Lunch Break

Sam Willoughby

Do you ever feel like you rush around all day and simply don’t have the time for a lunch break? It’s time to take a step back and ready these simple and actionable hacks that will make the most of your lunchtime.

It’s time to maximise your lunch break!

We talk to Sam Willoughby, Founder and Managing Director of Live Well Events, about the simple ways to make the most out of your day, every day. Sam combines her busy role as Founder and MD with that of being a Mum to her two children, Joseph and Molly, making sure where possible to have that much-needed work-life balance.

Sam is passionate about bringing events to life and combining her values and interest in the health and wellbeing sector.

In March 2019, she launched the first Live Well London – a new wellbeing, health and fitness festival at Old Billingsgate, London that kicked off the festival season and raised the bar for visitor experience in the sector.

Sam and her Live Well London team are committed to representing the advancements in the wellbeing sector through a growing portfolio of inclusive events and experiences that speak to the breadth of how people engage with this exciting and fast-growing industry for their own unique emotional and physical wellness.

The No-Break Society

Such is the fast-paced work culture that we often neglect to slow down and take a recess.
Certain factors, like the industry you work in or your office culture, meaning you can find yourself feeling guilty for taking a break, especially if your colleagues don’t seem to do the same.

Time to Make the Break

As someone who has worked in the events industry for 20 years, I’ve seen the landscape grow and evolve. What’s interesting right now is that the trend amongst millennials today is they are spending more money on ‘experiences’ than ever before.

This means they value their time more than ‘stuff’ or ‘things’. It seems that time is the new currency.

Quite rightly so – time is a non-renewable resource. So, if you want to make your working hours count during the day, make sure you maximise your downtime during your lunch break. Replenish that mental resource, restore motivation and increase that afternoon productivity!

Here are five positive and easy-to-introduce habits:

1. Food for thought

First of all, there’s the obvious one: Food. And, at its core, what is food? Food is fuel.

There’s no shortage of evidence or experts who champion that the food we put inside our bodies has a direct impact on what happens on the outside – from our physical performance right through to our mood.

I like to make my lunches at home so that I can eat exactly what I want and exactly the way I like it!

I can make sure my midday meal is nutritionally well balanced to help me power through the afternoon and skip the dreaded 3 pm slump.

Also, I make sure I have a stash of snacks on hand, to stave off any hunger pains throughout the day – seeds or nuts, fruit, carrot sticks and houmous – I can’t concentrate on an empty stomach.

Plus, it saves me money. Easy win.

2. Motion creates emotion

Whilst it’s not my area of expertise to explain the science behind the effect of exercise on your emotional health, I can share with you mine and my team’s personal experience, having recently completed the Red January challenge.

In taking part, we pledged to jog or power-walk for 30 minutes every day in January.

The results surprised us – in place of a post-lunch slump, we all reported that we felt re-energised. The perfect tonic for the pre-event build up, infamously the most stressful time of year in our working calendar. We found the daily outing became a much-needed pick-me-up.

To make sure I really commit, on the days I plan to workout, I pack my bag the night before and slip on my sports bra in the morning, just as a little reminder.

And if you REALLY need to further justify this time to yourself – just think, if you’re doing your workout during your lunch break (time that belongs to you) then you’re giving yourself back the time you would have spent doing this in the evening or morning.

3. Move the party

STEP. AWAY. FROM. THE. DESK. Remove yourself from your current environment, it’s your working space, you associate it with work, not rest.

Eat your lunch somewhere else – maybe you have a breakout area in your office or move into another room. In the summer, pick a nice spot outside to enjoy some fresh air. Take your lunch break with a colleague, take a stroll around the block. Just get a change of scenery.

4. Focus on you

So, you’ve stepped away from your desk, now you need to step away from work.

Once you get started, it’s very easy to become totally consumed by your task list. I’ve come to accept, that ‘work’ will never be complete, simply because you will always find something else to do. I’m forever ticking one thing off my list, only to replace it with 3 more actions. And it’s far too easy to devour my lunch whilst keeping one hand on my keyboard.

Whether the business you work in is your own or you’re working for someone else, we all have our own goals, professional or personal. Why not use this valuable time to work towards achieving those goals?

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You have 5 hours a week in lunch breaks, so even if you only work on your goals for 30 minutes a day, that’s still 150 minutes a week dedicated to getting ahead.

Another option is to tick off a few chores, so you can maximise the time you do have off – maybe a trip to the post office or the bank, or calling to arrange that appointment you’ve not found time to make. BUT, don’t try to take on too much because then you’re just swapping one stress for another.

I try to take the time at the beginning of the week to set out realistic tasks so by the time it’s the weekend, I can fully switch off and do the things that really help me to relax.

Don’t be hard on yourself either, each week is different and only you know where you’re at in life. It’s more than fine to just use your lunch break as ‘me’ time, time for self-care, something you enjoy – you might choose to read a book or call a loved one. This is YOUR focus time.

5. It’s called taking a breather

What do you do when your laptop starts freezing and cracking up? You’d unplug it, you’d reset it and you’d hit restart. My mornings feature an onslaught of emails and decision making – so I do the same. I know my laptop will only shut down anyway if I ignore the signs.

When the morning shift is over, I try to make space in my mind for the afternoon, starting with a deep breath. Meditation or breathwork doesn’t come naturally to everyone, it certainly didn’t for me, but like everything else – you just learn.

There are so many fantastic apps that can guide you through short meditations. It’s all well and good offering this as a tip but how do you meditate for 10-15 mins a day without looking slightly bizarre to your co-workers?

This, of course, depends on your surroundings. If you work from home – easy, if you drive to work, take a seat in your car, if you’re in an office building, book a meeting room or head to the toilets. I’ve done all of the above!

Meditating isn’t just about trying to untangle knots and clearing your head totally, it’s also quite illuminating to see what’s really on your mind when you give your ‘unconscious mind’ the space to wander freely. Then you’re more equipped to deal with it.

Are looking for more inspiration and advice on how to up your wellbeing?

Bringing together an inspirational collection of the very best in wellbeing, health and fitness, Live Well London returns in 2020, giving you the chance to learn first-hand how to take care of your emotional and physical wellbeing and discover how to be the happiest and healthiest version of you.

Experience different styles of meditation and yoga, trial-run fitness classes led by the industry’s finest studios and most in-demand trainers, all from beginner to expert level. Dispel the myths, make informed choices and be inspired by talks from leading wellbeing experts, all whilst exploring and shopping a curated collection of leading brands – and having a great day out!

Taking place at Old Billingsgate from Friday 28 Feb – 1 March, join us for a host of talks, classes and workshops, from the likes of Jonny Wilkinson CBE, wellbeing entrepreneur Liz Earle, clean-eating hero Dale Pinnock, Dame Kelly Holmes, sleep expert Natalie Pennicotte Collier and the Breath Guy Richie Bostock.

Take a look at the full line-up online and get your tickets here.

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