The other week I gave a wellness talk to employees with the aim of inspiring healthier working days. My talk included what to do, as well as what not to do, on their lunch breaks for optimal health; i.e. take time out to go for a walk and eat a healthy lunch, instead of working through.
Making the most of your lunch break is something that I am really passionate about and I personally try to make the most out of my 30 minutes mid-day ‘time-out’ Monday to Friday to make my day that little bit healthier, and to make my afternoon that little bit more productive.
Here are my top 5 favourite ways of making the most out of the working lunch break and I challenge YOU to give them a go over the next 4 weeks; after all, there’s only 4 more weeks until the December parties come around AND a recent survey found that out of 2,000 people surveyed, an impressive 46% already had a lifestyle goal in mind for the colder months: are you one of the 46% yet? If not, read on for some inspiration and if yes, let me know what you plan on doing in the comments below!
- Monday: Make an excuse to get Outside.
Instead of sitting inside during your lunch break make an excuse to get outdoors for some fresh air. Getting outside not only will increase your step count, but it’ll get you into a good habit for when it comes to spring and summer when the sun’s rays help your skin to make vitamin D (and on that note, don’t forget to take a vitamin D supplement if you live in the UK!).
I find that writing in my diary an ‘outdoor excuse task’ really helps me to leave the office space and I use the following reasons to get outside: posting a letter or parcel, buying a stamp (I buy one at a time to force me to go the post office!), buying an item from the shops that I need that afternoon or evening, making a phone call (and having the privacy of not chatting in the office!), and nipping to the bank to either draw out cash or to put in a cheque. It’s amazing how productive you can be on your lunch break at the same time as getting some fresh air!
- Tuesday: Go for a Walk and track your Steps.
Rather than sitting at your desk for yet another half an hour, go for a walk! Many people, including myself, find that going for a walk during your lunch helps to decrease levels of stress, leaving you feeling more relaxed and more able to cope with the afternoon’s workload. I even keep a pair of short wellies by my desk to put on if it’s raining and I always keep a brolly in my bag (it nearly always rains in England!!).
Tracking your daily steps using an app or an activity monitor may be an added incentive to go for a lunch-time stroll; you can clock around 1500 steps in a 15 minutes walk and 3000 steps in a 30 minute walk; the latter of which is nearly a third of the popular target of 10,000 steps a day (if 10,000 steps sounds like a lot then focus first on ‘reducing your sitting time’ and then increasing your daily steps gradually).
- Wednesday: Bring a Healthy Lunch to eat
Instead of buying an expensive lunch or grabbing a bite from the nearest takeaway, make your lunch at home either the night before or on the morning. When you make lunch from home you are more in control of what goes into it (and what doesn’t go into it for that matter!). Check out my healthy portable lunch ideas for inspiration!
My top tip is to make your lunch two days at a time (using two Tupperware containers!), not forgetting some fresh fruit for a snack, or why not grab your favourite soup for when you need warming up. My favourite soups are the ones based around chicken or lentils for a filling protein-based hit!
- Thursday: Eat your Lunch AWAY from your Desk
Did you know that eating whilst being distracted can lead to mindless over-eating? Instead of eating at your desk, eat your lunch in the staff canteen, kitchen or (if it’s nice outside!) the nearest bench. Eat slowly and mindfully; this way you’ll be more satisfied and will be less likely to be craving something sweet afterwards.
Did you also know that your brain takes around 20 minutes to recognise that you’re eating? This means that if you finish your lunch is anything less than this then you may be left wanting more, even though your body may not need it! A good way help slow you down is to focus on chewing your food well. Having a drink before your meal can also help to fill you up.
- Friday: Use your Social Media to get Healthy
Scrolling through Instagram, Facebook and Twitter is a popular thing to do during a lunch-time break, but why not make your Friday scrolling healthy; you could make a Pinterest board for ‘healthy lunch time recipes’, follow a healthy chef (& me!) on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, subscribe to a healthy mailing list; after you’ve subscribed to my own of course (!) or look up a healthy hashtag such as #healthylunch.
There is so much healthy inspiration online as well as motivational and inspirational quotes!
Focus on making the most of your lunch break over the next 4 weeks & do let me know if you try any of these tips.. Check out this quick video too for a summary!!
*Thank you to Glorious! for inspiring this 4 week #GloriousChallenge. Image by Fields London Photography.