If you currently spend your lunch "break" scarfing down a wrap while sending emails in between bites—we know the feeling all too well—it's time to rethink your midday mealtime. Research has proven that our brains are only capable of focusing for 90 to 120 minutes before requiring a break. While you should be taking small timeouts throughout the day, lunch is a time to fully capitalize on the positive affects of incorporating a few healthy rituals into your day.
Not only will acknowledging your lunch break serve as an added wellness aspect, it could also directly impact your productivity. According to entrepreneur and international business speaker Michael Kerr, taking a full hour to regroup, enjoy a mental break, and eat a healthy lunch will actually make you more successful in the long run.
That being said, it's most likely time to reevaluate your lunch routine. We've come up with a few tried-and-true tips that will get you started with the right approach. They're simple yet effective, and they have serious benefits. Check out our nine key lunchtime rituals that will improve your entire day below.
We've all fallen prey to the convenience of a quick piece of (greasy) pizza for lunch due to lack to time and planning. Take a moment to reflect on how you felt after swallowing the slice almost whole in a hurry—we're guessing (from experience) that you're not feeling so good?
By bringing your own lunch, you can take control of your health and what you're putting into your body, and all it takes is a few minutes of prepping and planning. Make time on a Sunday evening or Monday night to stock up on healthy, organic ingredients that will nourish your body and fuel your brain. Prepping your lunch the evening before or morning of can become a calming ritual, and it will leave you a bit of time to reflect and meditate as you incorporate it as a part of your normal routine.
You'll also likely be able to avoid rushing your meal if you've come prepared and know you have something delicious to look forward to as a break in your day. It's healthier for both your mind and body to BYOL, so get on board with these five delicious, healthy workday lunch ideas. Did we mention you'll also save a ton of money?
Not only is the act of preparing and sharing a meal with a co-worker tied to improved group performance and productivity, it's also way more fun than eating alone. Inviting your colleague, boss, or fellow freelancing friend to join you for lunch will help you get away from your desk, and the conversation will stimulate your brain in ways the computer screen cannot. It can also help you strengthen your bonds and relationships in both your personal and professional lives. Sharing your mealtime with someone else will gives you a much-needed (and enjoyable) break to re-energize and refocus, making it easier to get back on task, no matter what the day ahead of you holds in store.
Like any meal, it's important to be mindful of what, when, and how much time you have to eat. If you work a desk job, it's best to leave your desk so you can be fully present and aware during lunchtime to avoid eating too much or too little due to distractions and diversions. You'll also be more in tune with your body in realizing if you've filled up before you've finished your entire (oversize) portion. It also helps to designate a mealtime. Don't wait until it's too late (when you're overly hungry) because you're busy with other priorities. Always take time to eat a small meal, even a snack, to keep your metabolism going and to fuel your body with much-needed nutrients to make it through the day.
If you're not a morning person (it's easy to become one) or your evening hours are too hectic to fit in a workout, a midday sweat session can be just what you need. It's so important to make time for daily exercise, as it's not only essential for your physical health but also your mental well-being. If you're allotted an hour at lunch, take advantage of that time to hit a nearby gym or throw on your sneakers for a long walk. Exercising during lunch is a great way to ensure you're getting the mental break you need without imposing on your morning or afterwork hours.
As mentioned above, it's crucial to be aware and present when you're eating as to not overeat or undereat. You can ensure you're being mindful at mealtime by stepping away from your screen and giving your eyes (and mind) a much-needed break from the glaring glow. Taking a break from your screen means not only your computer but also your beloved phone. Make your lunch a screen-free session to give yourself a necessary break from being "on call" (in both work and your personal life), and take the time for yourself.
Just as important as eating a healthy, nutritious lunch is taking the time to get up from your desk and move your limbs. This is why it's necessary to step away from your workspace for lunch. Take your food to a nearby park and stretch your legs while getting fresh air along the way. If weather won't permit you to be outdoors, move to another area of your office and enjoy your lunch followed by a few minutes of informal stretching. You'll feel much more energized thanks to the fresh blood flow paired with some healthy food as fuel.
If you work in an office environment (and even if you don't), your lunch break may be your only time to really step away and take a few minutes to be "offline." That being said, you should use this time wisely. After you've finished your meal, set aside a few minutes for a quick meditation, which has been scientifically proven to be an anti-aging exercise for your brain, or for practicing a few breathing techniques that can help relieve stress and reduce anxiety. These will help improve your physical and mental health on a daily basis, and you only need a few short minutes to accomplish them.
Use your lunchtime to delegate or even accomplish your goal for the day. If you've been meaning to make a much-needed phone call to your friend or relative or to book a doctor's appointment, take a few minutes to cross it off the list. While you're taking time away from your computer screen or phone, use a notepad to jot down your daily to-do list or long-term goals for the month or beyond as you eat. It's a nice way to reevaluate your immediate or future plans, and it helps you organize your thoughts at the same time.
While you should always eat a healthy, fulfilling meal for lunch, overdoing it in the middle of the day can be dangerous. You'll feel extremely uncomfortable (and most likely really tired) if you overeat at lunch. You can avoid this by following the aforementioned suggestions as far as being mindful and present when you sit down to eat. A nutritious portion of clean, organic foods will always settle the right way without leaving you bloated and full from an oversize meal.
What's your favorite lunchtime routine? Let us know, and shop a few of our favorite lunch essentials that will help you BYOL in style below.