You’re always looking to make healthy adjustments in your life, but you can’t imagine squeezing one more task or habit onto your to-do list. Instead of trying to make major adjustments to your schedule, just use the time you already have available. Like your lunch break.
Your lunch break is a built-in time slot you already have available. That 30-60 minute chunk of time is the perfect amount to make major progress on your life goals.
Let me ask you, what do you normally do on your lunch break? Scroll your Instagram feed on your phone? Take a nap in your car? Chit-chat in the lunch room? Skip lunch altogether?
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of those, you could be using your lunch break for more enriching activities. Of course, make sure you take enough time to eat a nutritious meal, but also consider incorporating one of these activities to cultivate transformation.
Have you heard of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, yet? It’s the practice of immersing yourself in the forest and enjoying its medicinal benefits. While you may not have access to a forest during your lunch hour, you likely have access to nature in some form. The premise of nature bathing is to turn off all distractions and just take in the sensations of nature. Sounds like wasting time? It’s not. Studies show being in nature reduces negative emotions like stress, improves focus, and enhances job satisfaction. Nature bathing is basically the antidote to a frantic workday. All you need to do is sit quietly in nature for 15-30 minutes, focusing on all your senses, to reap the benefits. Grab your lunch and take it alfresco.
Now, I’m not suggesting anything new here by saying you could work out on your lunch break. No one’s ever thought of that before, right? But I want you to consider the actual benefits of exercise and how it benefits your workday and career to really appreciate it. If you get up in the middle of your shift to get your heart pumping, you come back to work re-invigorated. You break up all the hours of sitting, improve your mood, and sharpen your thinking skills. The health advantages extend far beyond that, but the confidence you cultivate and recalibration that takes place could send you in the direction of a promotion or a winning idea.
Your lunch break is just enough time for a number of different career development tasks. You could start a blog, launch a freelance business, spruce up your resume, and improve your LinkedIn profile all within a week. You could use your breaks over a longer period to learn a new language, take a course, practice new web design techniques, or learn a new skill. Think about all the ways you can improve your career in 30-minute increments, and then plan one into your lunch breaks this week. You can’t go backwards in your career if you continually take initiatives to improve your qualifications.
Similar to nature bathing, meditation clears your mind of the constant input it receives every day from innumerable sources all around you: cell phone, computer, television, coworkers, news, etc. Your brain has to operate with 52 or more tabs open at any given moment, so it’s no wonder you feel burned out and mentally fatigued at the end of the day. Meditation is the antithesis of our overworked culture. It’s nice to switch your mind to a blank screen every once in awhile, but it’s also incredibly hard to do at the same time. With practice, the mind-clearing habits becomes easier and the effects more noticeable. Just a few minutes of deep breathing and simplifying your focus benefits your mental and physical health. You go back to work with stronger sense of focus, a better mood, and a chilled-out nervous system. Download the Insight Timer app to your phone or use your Fitbit to take from 1-60 minutes to decompress.
Journaling might sound like something a sophomore girl in high school uses to gush about her crush after a football game, but that’s not the kind of journaling we’re talking about here. We’re talking about productive, transformative journaling. The type of journaling where you write down your goals and envision them in detail. The type of journaling that helps you shift emotional gears from helpless to hopeful, from low to high vibe. The type of journaling that helps you destroy obstacles and work through problems. To do so, just write down your big-picture goals and today’s goals. Really feel into them. Then, write down any counterproductive thoughts that come to mind about those goals and work through them. Journaling is one of the most powerful resources you have available to change your own mind for the better. And you can start your transformation in just 15 minutes a day.
Don’t let your lunch hour get away from you today. Take that time to work on self-improvement and activities that add value to your life. This practice will teach you how to squeeze more fulfilling activities into your day, and through each day into the culmination of your life.