Mastering the Lunch Break

· by Savanna Neeley

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Do you ever feel chained to your desk? Do your eyes hurt from staring at the computer screen for hours on end? Do you ever feel like you’ve been hit by a truck load of exhaustion when you get home from work? Not because you’ve been up moving all day, but the complete opposite.

This is what I like to call the sedentary tiredness from sitting all day. Some of the reasons behind these everyday drains are caused by our lack of movement, not seeing daylight or getting fresh air, and staring at our electronics all day. However, we can all make the day a little less tiring by following these helpful tips.

Tip #1: Lunch me break it down to you:

Okay, sure, we have all been there. We “don’t have the time,” or are “too busy” to eat. But hear me out. Taking a lunch break is necessary. It gets you out of your seat and forces you to move around. It also gives your brain a much-needed charge and your body refueling energy from eating. Granted you probably shouldn’t eat something extremely hearty, high in fat, or extremely large since these meals will probably just make you have the ‘after lunch slump.’ But recharging with a light meal that you brought from home or from outside of the office should do the trick.

Meal prepping can become your best friend by having pre-made meals ready for each day of the week. Sometimes this is too much work, so perhaps bringing a loaf of bread and PB&J from home that can be stashed in your desk is an easier option, as are leftovers from last night’s dinner. Either way you are ready to refuel your body by taking some time away from your desk and computer. Even if you go to the breakroom, this is far better than sitting at the same place for an added hour of your day. However, follow my next step to make your lunch break even better!

Tip #2: Now walk it out:

Like I said above, you might go to the breakroom for lunch and then end up sitting down again. While it is great that you moved from point A (your desk) to point B (the breakroom), you can still make your lunch break even more productive and energizing by taking a walk. I know firsthand that taking a walk can make you a new person and get your blood flowing from sitting all morning. Sure, we don’t all work downtown or have a sidewalk that we can utilize. I’ve been in this situation before. My office was off a frontage road with no sidewalks or walkable streets. It was literally half pavement and half gravel.

However, I would still make myself go outside no matter how cold or hot it was and take laps around the building. Of course, this wasn’t the most vibrant of scenery, but it still got me up and moving and made me a happier person when I returned to work. If the scenery is unbearable, perhaps taking a quick 5-minute drive down the road to a more populated area would be just the trick for you. And to keep your walks more enjoyable try bringing a coworker! Not only will they help to make the time go by faster, it is also a way to hold you accountable by relying on each other to get up and moving. Getting some fresh air and daylight can really do your mind and body justice.

Tip #3: When in doubt, nap it out:

Perhaps a walk sounds like way too much work. Heading out to your car for a few moments of silence and taking a quick 10 – 20 minute nap can fare you just as well. Studies show that sleeping past this window will make you groggy since you are waking up in deep sleep. So, be sure to set an alarm for your allotted time. You wouldn’t want to miss getting back to work on time.

A car nap can give you life again during those afternoon slumps and prepare you for the rest of your day. It’s like getting that second jolt of caffeine from your morning coffee, just around 12-2pm in the afternoon instead.  Combine your nap with a quick snack and you will have the ultimate motivation and energy again. Perhaps you have an hour for lunch and combine all three tips mentioned for even more benefits. Either way, adding a nap to the possible lunch break you wouldn’t have taken can be your make it or break it point.

Added Quick Tips:

Get up frequently to help keep your blood circulating. I’m not saying to be unproductive, but even a two-minute break just to stretch at your desk can still be extremely helpful.

  • Get up and head to the breakroom and get a coffee, tea, or snack.
  • Go to the restroom when you must, don’t hold it.
  • Have two bathrooms? Use the one further away.
  • Take the stairs, not the elevator when you can.
  • Take your calls while standing up.
  • If you’re able to get a standing desk, do!
  • Don’t email/call your coworker for a question, get up and walk over to them.