We’ve all been there. You did what you were supposed to do: got eight hours of sleep, had a healthy breakfast, maybe even that morning cup of joe to help perk you up. But despite all that, the non-stop phone calls, meetings, and projects mean that come lunch time, you feel exhausted. What you are feeling in that moment is not necessarily physical exhaustion, but is more likely mental exhaustion.
Mental exhaustion is just as detrimental to your health – and your performance in the workplace – as physical exhaustion is. And just as a fitful nap on an uncomfortable sofa is not going to help you recover physically as well as a deep, restful night’s sleep in your favorite bed; eating a five-minute lunch at your desk while you check email is not going to help you recover mentally as well as taking your lunch to the park and making a picnic of it, sitting under a tree while you listen to the rustling of the leaves.
Of course, time is always a precious commodity on your lunch break. Once you take the time to go somewhere, place your order, and wait for it, you don’t have a lot of time left to then take that lunch to a near-by park and relax before you have to go back to work. Instead, considering planning ahead, make it a regular get-away. Get together with some co-workers who share your lunchtime, or even consider treating your entire team if you’re the boss; order lunch and have it delivered early, then carpool somewhere nearby that’s quiet and pretty. It doesn’t have to be a park, so long as it’s some place where you can enjoy the view in peace. Bring a book, some headphones, or just daydream and take it all in, but whatever you do, make it a real break. Your brain – and your bottom line – will thank you.
For more information on the ways that mental strain and cognitive exhaustion can impact us, and what we can do about it, consider talking to your HR Department. Pushing your body too hard can result in injury, and its only natural that pushing your mind too hard can have comparable consequences. Taking the time to alleviate it early on can help avoid burnout and worse!