I once had a boss who went for a run every day at lunchtime.
Because he did this, I believed it was ok for me to take a break at lunchtime too.
I’m not a runner, but I do love to walk, so I used to do just that every day.
My lunchtime walk refreshed me. When I got back to my desk, my body and mind felt revived. I was less tired in the afternoons. And little aches and pains that sometimes developed during the first half of the day would disappear.
It was like I had a clean slate to begin my afternoon of work.
Most of my colleagues did not take a lunchtime walk, or indeed even a break of any kind away from their screens.
Their supervisors didn’t either.
If you’d asked them, I’m sure they would’ve said that they didn’t have time; there was too much work to be done. But I often saw them internet shopping or doing some type of personal internet-based research while they ate. Fair enough – we all must take care of life admin sometimes. But every day?
I believe the reason I consistently went for my walk was because my boss was also getting up and out.
If he hadn’t, I’m sure I would’ve sat at my desk while I ate. I would’ve found it too weird to be the only one who took a break from my desk. Doing so would’ve been like shouting, “I’m practicing self-care because I’m worth it!” Eck! Nobody wants to do that at work.
It was so easy for me at that company with that boss because he was modelling the behavior. I didn’t have to climb the mountain of doubt and shame to do what was good for me because his behavior said, “Go ahead, look after yourself. I am!”
It’s pretty much the only place I’ve worked where I consistently took a break at lunch, got away from my desk and moved.
We’ve all heard how important it is to move during the work day. We know that regular movement is necessary for physical and mental health.
Everyone’s talking about it, but still so few of us are doing it.
I believe that until senior management models the behavior, we’ll all be stuck at our desks and our health problems will continue to grow.