Whether working from home (unstructured), or at the office (structured), or knee-deep in a project (oblivious of the time) the importance of taking a lunch break can’t be underestimated.
Not only is it a chance to refresh your focus, replenish your body with fuel, and with any luck an opportunity to get some fresh air, but it can also be a time for exploring and adventuring.
Sure, I know, most of us have limited lunch hours – if indeed they even are a full hour – but even 20 minutes set aside can be enough to (re)discover your neighbourhood and soak up the sights that exist within blocks of your workplace. A new shop, a new restaurant, a nearby art gallery, beyond the closed doors of a church you’ve always been curious about — however grand, however small there’s plenty to discover the moment you step outside.
And if 20 minutes is too tight, why not set aside one lunchtime a week where food isn’t the priority – a sandwich on the go, an apple in your pocket – and use your hour to feed your soul. Even without a destination, I can promise, life will come to you the moment you step out onto the street OR sit in the park. Observe the world as it moves around YOU by people watching, contemplating the current state of the trees – in spring blossom, rich with autumn colour – etc, the list goes on ….
Today, I went on one such walk through San Francisco’s Haight/Ashbury district. The sun was out, the sky blue from end to end. It was warm in the sun and chilly in the shade. I’ve been in San Francisco for some time now, but I still hadn’t gotten to this corner of the city despite it being an easy stroll from where I’m staying.
As a city of neighbourhoods, San Francisco never fails to impress, but this area – the epitome and focal point of West Coast hippie-ness – has got to be one of this city’s more colourful neighbourhoods. Brightly painted Victorian homes, tattoo shops, tourist shops filled with retro T-shirts line the Haight street, while denizens are equally bold in their statements and colourful in their dress.
I was back at my desk within the hour, but my day felt fuller as I entered the afternoon, my mind abuzz / energised by the external stimuli and ready to redirect that energy back into my work. The afternoon didn’t seem half as long as normally does.