Have you fallen into a habit during your lunch break that you're trying to change? It’s extremely difficult to make permanent changes to our daily routine; we are creatures of habit after all. But I do think it’s more manageable to take small steps towards a larger goal of total wellbeing and happiness.
If you don’t connect with something or it isn’t fun and rewarding, you won’t stick with it. Be honest with yourself about what you can commit to and find pleasure in these acts of self care.
Try one of these daily lunch rituals each month and find the ones that work for you. The whole idea is to feel better, so listen to your body and make a habit of things that make you feel good. Here are 6 ways to use your lunch break, so you feel better during the rest of the day!
1. If You Have Time For One Thing — Breathe
It seems so simple and obvious, but the truth is that most of us don’t breathe properly throughout the day.
When we are stressed and tense, our breathing becomes restricted. Most of us only breathe to one third of our lung capacity. When we’re not breathing, we’re starving our organs of fresh, energizing oxygen, and as a result we feel more tired and stressed.
Even if you just have two minutes to take a break at work, you can stop and try a breathing exercise. Chances are you don’t want to make a scene or look too silly at your desk, so try just breathing in for three breaths, then hold for three, and exhale for three. Work your way up to four, five, six, seven, and finally eight.
Breathe deeper than you realized you could, down into the deepest part of your lungs. Notice the expanding of your rib cage and the rise and fall of your belly. The change in your body after just a couple minutes of this exercise is incredible. You’ll feel more calm, energized, and capable of taking on the rest of your day.
2. Go For a Mindful Walk
Getting out in the fresh air and connecting with nature is so important for your mind, body, and spirit. We spend so much time in front of screens, breathing in recycled air, and under fluorescent lights. Getting outside allows us to absorb that much needed vitamin D from the sun, fresh oxygen from the trees, and gives us a chance to put our working day into perspective.
Try walking mindfully for as long as you can. Feel each corner of your foot connecting with the earth and carry intention with each step. Mindful walking helps us to connect with our body and mind, and paying attention to the placement of our feet on the earth also helps to correct our alignment, which suffers when we sit at a desk all day.
3. Set Your Intentions
We all have ideas of how we want each day to go. We rarely wake up in the morning and hope that we’ll get in a disagreement with a coworker or miss a deadline. But the reality is that these things happen and we don’t always react to them in the most kind and productive way.
Taking time at lunch to reflect back on your values, personal goals, or intentions is a nice way to reset. It gives us a chance to remember the big picture, be it at work, or in our lives in general. So take some time to think about your intentions, and write them down somewhere where you can see them.
Intentions can be things like “treating everyone I meet with loving kindness,” “staying calm when things don’t go my way,” or “I want to attract abundance in my professional life.”
Putting these things into writing is a way of putting them out into the universe, and taking action to make them a reality.
4. Do Yoga at Your Desk
If one of your resolutions is to practice yoga more regularly, get started while you’re at work. There are plenty of poses or stretches that you can do while you’re sitting. Try these simple exercises:
- Try doing a few neck and shoulder rolls to loosen up.
- Push your chair a few feet from your desk, bend in half and reach for the edge of your desk. With your head between your arms, relax your shoulders down your back and breathe. This is a wonderful way to open your back and release pressure in your shoulders, neck, and spine.
- Point and flex your feet to stretch your calves.
- Breathe in as you reach your arms up above your head. Exhale to release them back to your sides. Repeat this 5 times.
- With your feet flat on the floor, twist to hold the back of your chair. Repeat on both sides.
While these simple exercises have wonderful benefits, the hope is that they’ll feel so good that you’ll be even more motivated to get to a full length class after work.
5. Read a Motivational Book
Rather than checking your phone while mindlessly choking down your lunch, pick up a book that you know will motivate you.
There is so much inspiration to be found from people who have walked a similar path. Self-help books, while they seem cliche, can help us to remember that we’re not alone. They can inspire and motivate us to stay connected to our self-development, which is the idea of making resolutions.
Better yet, staying away from social media is a healthy habit in itself. Constantly comparing ourselves to others can be a setback to achieving our own goals, and rarely provides us with a much needed mid-day dose of positivity.
6. Just Eat
If you have time to do nothing but eat during your lunch break, that’s actually a good thing. Distracted eating leaves us disconnected from our bodies and usually leads to eating more or eating foods that are unhealthy.
Taking time to truly enjoy each bite makes us appreciate and enjoy it. If you notice that you feel bloated, tired, and unfulfilled after lunch, it could have just as much to do with how you’re eating as what you’re eating.
Try chewing each bite for at least 15 seconds, as this will make it easier to digest and leave you feeling much better when the meal is through. Eating slowly also allows us time to check in with our body and notice when we are full. Having this connection with your body will help to create a more loving relationship with it.
Each of these ideas have a similar goal — to help you become more mindful and less automatic in your daily life. It’s rare for many people to get the time in the middle of their day to relax, but taking even a minute or two for yourself is so important for your health and for keeping you on track with your goals.
How do you use your lunch break? Share with us in the comments below!