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Lunch breaks can be a time to recharge and connect with colleagues

By Shannon Geis, MA
September 21, 2017
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Do you take time for yourself during your workday?

The Sept. 19 MGMA Stat poll asked whether respondents have time to take a lunch break every day. About 40% of respondents said they were able to take a lunch break always or often. While another 40% said they rarely take lunch and 20% said they never do.

Of those who always take a lunch break, 37% said they try to get out of the office. Of those who “often” take a lunch break, 50% said they eat their meal at their desk.

A number of respondents who make sure to take their lunch break said that the break time allows them to spend quality time with their colleagues. “I eat in the break room with staff,” said one. “We feel this helps to build relationships.”

“[The] doctors lounge at the hospital is a great place to facilitate communication and make connections,” said another respondent. And lunch can be a good time to have important conversations with staff, according to several respondents.

“Eating is important. A ‘hangry’ manager is never a good thing,” said a respondent. “Food is fuel. I make a point to eat lunch.”

Many said that they use their lunch break as a way to get away from work for a few minutes. Even if they can’t get out of the office for lunch, some say they try to at least step out for a bit. “[I] eat at the office and then take a small break outside to reset for the afternoon,” said one respondent.

Burnout continues to be a major issue in the healthcare industry, and one of the ways managers can manage stress and bring focus to their workday is by spending a few minutes on self-awareness and mindfulness.

A recent study in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology showed that taking a 15-minute walk or doing a few relaxation exercises during an employee’s lunch break improved his or her concentration and led to less fatigue in the afternoon.

As Rachel Pugmire, MHS, FACMPE, points out in her piece for Executive View, “A growing body of knowledge suggests a correlation between self-awareness and medical executive performance in higher-performing healthcare organizations.” So it may be worth trying to take a lunch break and applying a few simple mindfulness techniques to your day, even if it is only for a few minutes.

You can learn more about how to integrate “applied mindfulness” into your medical practice with the “Resilience Training with Providers and Professionals” session at the MGMA 2017 Annual Conference in Anaheim, Calif., Oct. 8-11. During the session attendees will learn how to carry out their own simple, short mindfulness practice and the steps for how to start a mindfulness program at work.

Shannon Geis, MA, Staff writer/editor, MGMA

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