Some days can be relentless; from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep at night, it can often seem as though there’s no time to just stop and breathe.
Plus, in today’s busy world, taking the traditional one-hour lunch break is usually far from a reality. We live in a no-break culture, however, you don’t need a full hour to reset and recharge. In just 15 minutes, you can help to rejuvenate your mind and body, to lower stress levels and give you the best chance of powering through the remainder of your day.
The food you choose to eat in your break can help or hinder your productivity. Make sure you fuel up properly by choosing a meal that provides a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
Lean protein sources include chicken, turkey, eggs, and tofu. Although not the nicest smelling food, oily fish such as sardines, salmon, and mackerel are also a wise protein choice, plus they provide a vital source of omega-3 fatty acids. Research* has found these fatty acids to be key contributors to the health of our brain. Other good sources of healthy fats include olive oil, nuts and seeds, however, due to fat’s high calorie content, try to keep portions relatively small.
As for carbs, opt for whole grain carbs as they offer slow release energy, rather than a quick spike of energy which results in a crash later on in the afternoon. Choose brown rice, wholegrain bread or other nutritious grains such as quinoa.
Overall, the key is to avoid high fat and high sugar foods; sandwiches packed with unhealthy spreads, fried foods, or cakes, pastries and chips. Aim for a colorful lunch; the greater the range of colors from fruits and vegetables, the more nutrients and minerals you’ll be consuming. This is vital to stay sharp, productive and awake.
Read a book
It might not be your usual lunch break go-to, however reading just a few pages of a book can help elicit a state of calmness in your body. A UK-based study, performed by the University of Sussex, found that reading can reduce stress by an impressive 68%.
Whether it be a magazine, a gripping novel, or an autobiography from your favorite sports star, reading can help to take your mind away from the pressures of work. It’s essentially like escapism, helping your mind to wander to another place.
Get outside and walk
Rain or shine, getting outside for a walk is one of the easiest ways to clear a busy mind and lower stress levels. Not only does it get blood pumping around your body, but it helps to boost feel good chemicals in the brain including dopamine and serotonin. Studies** have found that even a short walk can have a positive impact on mood.
Walking is also a good way to relieve any tension in the body. If you spend much of your day at a desk, staring at a screen, you might automatically start to tighten up in the back, shoulders and neck. This can not only have a detrimental affect on your mood, but also wrecks your posture and can lead to future injuries. Loosen up with a short, brisk walk. If you have any green areas nearby, be sure to make the most of them as nature itself has been proven to lower stress levels too***!