Have you ever noticed a difference between the days you take a lunch break versus the days you work straight through lunch? It’s not always easy to squeeze time into our busy schedules, but taking a lunch break will actually improve your afternoon productivity and effectiveness. Taking a break, even for just 15 or 20 minutes, boosts your energy levels and helps you sustain concentration throughout the rest of the day. The following 3 things are the best things you can do for yourself over your lunch:
Eat lunch! This is a no brainer, but a lot of us use our lunch break to run errands or think that if we’re on a diet or trying to lose weight, we shouldn’t eat lunch. Not only is it important to eat something, at least a snack, for your metabolism and health, but your nutrition and the food you eat will determine your productivity in the afternoon. Fish is a classic “brain food,” and for a good reason. Fish’s Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to brain development and function, and also enhance your memory and reduce risk of stroke and dementia. Avocados lower your LDL Cholesterol levels (the bad cholesterol) and improve blood flow and circulation, blueberries are rich in antioxidants and protect your brain, and raw carrots provide glucose and are great for brain function. Dark chocolate contains caffeine that naturally stimulates your brain and boosts your concentration levels and nuts and seeds are also a great snack because they contain vitamin E and antioxidants that reduce cognitive decline.
Relax! Take an actual break. Throughout the day, you’re gradually using up your psychological resources and your brain needs a chance to relax and recuperate. Simply focusing on eating and not trying to multitask and plan the rest of your day or work on other tasks not only helps you to digest your food better, but also makes you more productive and efficient when you get back to work and other tasks after your lunch break. Take some time to meditate. You don’t need a yoga mat to meditate, you just need a relaxing place to close your eyes and clear your mind. Meditation reduces stress and has been proven to reduce blood pressure and improve sleep quality at night, improving your quality of life in general. Even a short nap can be extremely beneficial. Our bodies have a natural decrease in energy in the afternoon making your lunch break the perfect time to take a quick nap. If you nap for less than 20 minutes, you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and avoid the groggy feeling you may experience after a long nap. A quick nap will give your brain time to store important information and increase your memory function throughout the rest of the day.
Exercise! There are so many benefits associated with exercise. Not only is it great for your physical health both short and long term, it’s also great for your mental health. Exercise has been proven to improve mood, increase confidence and self-esteem, and reduce stress. Studies have also shown, that a walk in the park is more beneficial than a walk down a city street. People who spend time in nature often have lower stress levels and fewer signs of depression or anxiety. Whether you go to the gym for an hour, walk through the park for 20 minutes, go for a 5 or 10 minute jog around the block, or even just do some jumping jacks for a few minutes, exercise is one of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself over your lunch break.
So go ahead and take a lunch break. Eat, relax, and exercise to optimize your day and improve your quality of life!