Now that we've been in quarantine for a little over a year, how have you been? Have you developed new work habits that have changed your life—for better or for worse? Many of us have shifted to a work-from-home setup, and while it's a privilege in many ways, it no doubt comes with a lot of adjustments. Those who have been working from home even before the pandemic have more limited interactions with ~the outside world~.
These days, we have to take extra steps to take care of ourselves—and that includes our mental health. One way to do that is by never forgetting to take breaks. However, working from home can blur the lines between your professional and personal lives, between being online and offline. So we asked Pinays how they have been spending their lunches at home. Are they able to maximize the full hour? What kinds of things do they squeeze into their break? Below, they share how they've been using the time to unwind (IF they can).
How are you spending your lunch break?
Jo relies on food deliveries.
As a customer success associate, she's been working from home for over a year now. “At first, it wasn't that convenient kasi mas lalong nadagdagan ang work!" Sometimes, she works from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
I have spent almost more than P30,000 for
food deliveries alone...
Relying on food deliveries took one burden off her plate. "I don't have time to cook and all kaya panay deliveries ako. I think I have spent almost more than P30,000 for food deliveries alone since the start of this pandemic. Siyempre kasama na mga handa 'pag birthdays. Haha!" She admits it's costly, but it's very convenient since she has very limited time.
Roxie stays online but takes the time to eat with others.
As a digital marketing and graphics lead for a company, she handles e-commerce for a lot of brands. "We are on a 'mixed' work arrangement now where I report to our warehouse at least twice a week," she shares with Cosmopolitan.
When she's at their workplace, their team orders food via Grab. "When I'm at home, I usually have brunch with my family since my nephews have online classes at 1:00 p.m. I have my phone with me all the time, so if there's an urgent message or call I need to respond to, it's easier." Asked if her lunch break habits affected her mental health somehow, Roxie responds, "No. Same lang [yung stress]. Haha! Pero may times na [mas] stressful kasi I take long calls kahit nagla-lunch."
Paulina stays also online—but not for work.
She's an account manager for luxury, sports, and retail brands. "I've been working from home since the quarantine was first implemented in March last year, and my schedule really depends on my workload for the day."
I consider my lunch breaks sacred and try not to do anything work-related, since it's also the only time I'm more or less not expected to respond immediately.
Since they don't have a fixed time for lunch, Paulina takes it whenever she can—usually for an hour. "I consider my lunch breaks sacred and try not to do anything work-related, since it's also the only time I'm more or less not expected to respond immediately. I turn on Netflix or Viu while eating to unwind and catch up on the shows I'm watching!"
Ela takes a nap when she needs it.
"Actually, I already tried WFH way back in 2016-2017, so I'm familiar with this setup," says the content writer and video editor. "As an introvert, hindi ako nahirapan masyado sa office-to-home transition. I prefer this WFH situation pa nga." But she admits that she still needs social interactions. "I miss my friends and nakaka-add 'yun sa frustrations ko in these dark and trying times because puro video call lang nga for a year now."
Ela says she tries to stay sane by journaling, meditating, and connecting with the people she loves. She also listens to BTS and other relaxing music. During lunch time, she does various things. "There are days when I take a 15- to 30-minute nap. I prefer napping 'pag inaantok kasi mas productive siya for me kaysa pilitin ko sarili ko na gumalaw even when drained na." Other times, she watches series on Netflix or videos on YouTube. "Bale habang kumakain, nanonood din ako. I also play with my dog and video call my grandmother if I have extra time."
Kriselle sticks to a schedule.
With a mid-shift from 2:00 p.m to 10:00 p.m., she works as a content editor for a publisher of law books. She shares, “Mula nung training (2019) at hanggang ngayon, sobrang kalaban ko talaga yung mental breakdown, time management, at pag-aayos ng game plan. Minsan yung lunch break, nagiging 'working-while-eating' tapos itutuloy na lang after work ulit kapag nabitin sa kain. Pati planner ko, 'di ko na masulatan, walang plano. As in wala. Kung anong andiyan [na immediately needed], 'yun lang yung ginagawa ko.”
When she finally adjusted to her job and the WFH setup, she was able to take more breaks. "I secretly nap! Ang hirap eh—hundreds to thousands of pages of books ang need na i-proofread. Hindi puwedeng ipilit ang mata kasi it will become a critical error once na may ma-miss ka. But I make sure na nap lang talaga—power nap. And, I always use my hour-long break. Otherwise, parang lalo akong na-e-exhaust sa buhay!" She also keeps her planner updated and refers to a bulletin board for her to-do list. "Na-beat ko naman na siguro yung sarili ko in terms of time management. In fairness, pati mental breakdowns ko, nabawasan kahit papaano."
Mika* spends time with her parents.
She works as an HR partner for a global tech company. "We work the typical 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., but whenever we have meetings with our global counterparts, I have to work until late in the evening." Mika shares with Cosmo, "During the first few months of lockdown, I felt stressed, and my mental health wasn't okay. There was no boundary between work and home. I couldn't have breaks and I even spent longer working hours."
Now that they've been working-from-home for about a year now, she shares, "I am doing much better. I eat lunch with my parents and even watch Netflix during my afternoon breaks! If I don't have important meetings, I go out and do some errands to take a quick break from work."
For Jas, lunch is a great time to freshen up.
She's a marketing and community specialist with a typical 9-to-5 schedule and an hour-long lunch break. "I consider myself lucky kasi I live with my parents and they prepare the food na, so I don't have to worry about that. Hindi na ako magluluto, diretso kain na lang ako."
"I'm able to maximize my time kaya I can squeeze in a quick shower to freshen up pa lalo na nag-start na maging mainit yung weather," Jas shares with Cosmo. "I usually put my phone away din since my work allows me to use it naman. As much as possible, I really use my lunch hour to take a break from anything work-related."
For Ginyn, it's all about ~variety~.
She has been working from home as a writer since 2019 and taking care of her baby without a yaya since 2020. "Our international company mainly sells Christmas trees. When the pandemic hit, we became much busier. Maybe people were looking for joy and decorating for the holidays."
My lunches usually coincide with my son's naptime, so I get to watch a K-drama episode (or two) while eating and sipping my coffee in peace.
She shares that the bright side is that they have flexible work hours, which means she can take two- to three-hour midday breaks when her brain needs it. "My lunches usually coincide with my son's naptime, so I get to watch a K-drama episode (or two) while eating and sipping my coffee in peace. Some days, I also take a nap, do my skincare and make-up, shoot a vlog, talk to friends on Facebook, bake, or get a quick workout session in (to burn the calories from what I baked—LOL)." And if her son isn't napping, she feeds, bathes, and plays with him. "I really maximize the time and do things I enjoy. I feel like I never stop working, so lunch (and dinner times) help me recharge."
For Bianca*, online shopping is an escape.
As a call center agent, Bianca* works the night shift from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. "So around 12 noon, after early lunch hanggang gabi, tulog ako." She says she misses those days when they get unlimited coffee in the office. She also misses the game room, where she frequently unwinds and exchanges chismis with work friends.
Since their lunch time is typically in the dead of dawn, she doesn't really have outdoor options. "Minsan kain at kape lang or shower kapag inaantok. Pero nauuwi ako sa Shopee, Shein, at kung anu-anong online shop! Online retail therapy ko 'yan. Tapos in the morning when I have energy, I do the groceries for my family."
Darleen goes out for a walk or spends time on her passion projects.
After being a freelance creative for two years now, she only recently just made the decision to work full-time at a company again—this time as a content producer. They have a four-day work week from Mondays to Thursdays. "I pretty much work independently, so it's kind of the same setup I had working freelance."
When I do take a break, I really go outside, read a book, or unwind by cooking or eating. Food is really like a mental escape for me.
Since her work is mostly digital, she finds it difficult to unplug, but she has all her notifications off to avoid distractions. "When I do take a break, I really go outside, read a book, or unwind by cooking or eating. Food is really like a mental escape for me." Darleen also shares that when gets in the zone while writing, it's hard to interrupt the flow. "When I get overwhelmed, I go for a walk—it helps me process things better. I also allot time for my passion projects, which are my food Instagram account and my online secondhand clothing shop."
Janet, the owner of Tala by Kyla, keeps working during lunch, but she enjoys it!
She's like a one-woman creative team: She's the photographer, designer, and the marketing head of her business. "I'm usually very busy. Even while eating, I still check customer concerns because sometimes they just pop out! Haha! Good thing, mabilis ako kumain kaya right after I eat, [I take a short break with] konting lambing sa dogs ko."
After that, she goes back to designing her themed jewelry or she'll start shooting her new collection already. Janet shares with Cosmo, "I'm pretty sure the way I work isn't healthy for other people because I really push myself to my limit. But because I'm a workaholic, I enjoy it naman." Different strokes for different folks, as they say.
*Names have been changed.
Follow Ginyn on Instagram.