The Importance of Midshift Breaks
How often do you scarf down a sandwich at your desk rather than take a proper lunch break? Maybe you’re “in the flow,” or you know that if you work through lunch, you can tackle your commute that much earlier and meet your kids at the bus stop.
Most employers require that their full-time staff take at least a 30-minute break in an 8-hour workday; yet, in my 13 years in federal service, it’s more common for me to see my colleagues work straight through their midday break—I’m guilty of doing it myself.
But a recent study by Tork (yes, the Tork you see on paper towel and soap dispensers in your office bathroom) found that North American employees who take a lunch break every day enjoy higher job satisfaction, feel more effective and efficient, and are inclined to be more engaged in their company culture.
Use the Time You’ve Got
Taking a break at the midpoint of your day doesn’t need to involve a lot of time, and it doesn’t even need to involve “lunch” (which, we’ve already established, you’re probably already eating at your desk while working). There are myriad ways to work a regular break into your daily routine, so stop making excuses not to! Your boss and your sanity will thank you. Take any of the following steps to slay the second half of your day.
If you have a longer lunch break:
- Pop out to a group exercise class at a nearby gym, or download a fitness app from your preferred provider to give you motivation for a workout whenever you can make it happen (ideally halfway into your workday). Many gyms have “express” noon-hour classes, so you can get in and out. If you’re pressed for time, stick some deodorant, dry shampoo, and clean underthings in your bag, and don’t worry about showering until you’re off the clock.
- Find a place outside your building to eat or buy your lunch. Sit outside if you can and soak up some vitamin D. Read a book (that doesn’t have to do with your job), color or people watch.
- Have your own office with a door? Close it, put on some white noise and stretch out on the floor for power nap or meditation session.
If you have less time (even just 10 minutes!):
- Go for a brisk walk outside, if possible. If not, walk your office corridors.
- Lower the lights if you can and plug into a short meditation. Meditation apps are easy to find and many are free. Find the most comfortable position you can outside of your regular office chair.
- Do a quick HIIT (high-intensity interval training) or Tabata. You may not even need to change out of your work clothes for this (but see the note above about deodorant and dry shampoo).
- Use a free yoga app to move through a quick practice. If you feel silly doing this near your desk, scope out a place outside or in a nearby communal area that gets little use and get your om on!
You may also be interested in this 20-Minute Bodyweight Workout to do on Your Lunch Break, or this Office Yoga sequence. Download these 5 Great Meditation Apps You Can Use On Your Lunch Break, too!
Ronda Lindsay is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. She has been an editor in the federal government for 13 years, working first for the Department of Defense and then for the National Transportation Safety Board. She has a master’s degree in professional writing from Towson University and a bachelor’s in English, with a minor in writing, from Oregon State University. She is passionate about plain language (in the government sphere), nature, books, fitness, and crafting. Originally from Portland, Oregon, Ronda loves to mentor others from west of the Mississippi who are interested in civil service. You can read her posts here.