The world has found itself in the habit of thinking about lunchtime as a luxury, when the focus should really be on how this window of time is intrinsic to our mental and physical wellbeing. For the time-rich and the time-poor, we'll walk you through the research that shows us just how important it is to stretch our legs, and offer some tips on how to get the most of your time away from the desk.
Let's begin with the real question: is it possible to hold down time a full time job and get sexy at the same time? The answer is yes, and it can be as simple as walking out the door and not looking back (for the next 30-60 minutes). The benefits of adding a half an hour (or longer if you can) walk to your day is huge; increased muscle strength, endurance, heart and lung fitness, and with up to 350 calories burned an hour, it is not hard to see why walking could be the first step toward you becoming social media's next fitness influencer.
If you're thinking well I'm already pretty fly, then it's worth bearing in mind that the benefits of a walking lunch don't stop at fitness; walking is intrinsic to our psychological wellbeing, with an unbelievably positive impact on our mental health. You don't have to be a runner to get the runner's high; slow pokes can experience it too. A lunchtime walk will release endorphins, reduce stress, improve your mood, and boost self-esteem. Whether your morning was delightful or disastrous, a lunchtime walk can help reset your brain and put it into a meditative state, leaving you ready to shine throughout the afternoon.
If you're lucky enough to live or work near a green-space (a park, riverside, or even an indoor flower-market) then the benefits stretch even further. Our involuntary attention is triggered when walking through natural spaces, which means that our primary attention is held, allowing for reflection. Maybe this all sounds like made-up nonsense, but essentially what we're trying to say is that any frustrations we might be holding onto are reduced, whilst our engagement level with the positives increases.
Time-Poor but Relaxation-Rich
Of course there are some of us who simply do not have the luxury of more than a ten to fifteen minute lunch break. This sucks, but it doesn't mean that you need to miss out. Setting expectations and boundaries with your manager to let them know you will be out of office for even a short window of time reduces that spiralling anxiety of 'I have to get back to work!', and allows you enjoy those precious minutes in peace. If the weather's nice, try to get some fresh air and sit beneath a tree, but if not, find a window that lets in a lot of light, and try listening to a podcast, a guided meditation, or simply just be as you take some time to unwind.
The key to success is repeating a good habit until it becomes second nature. Next time you organise your work calendar, don't forget to include your lunch breaks too. Encourage others to promote the healthy work habit by inviting a colleague along, and who knows, maybe this whole taking a break on your lunch thing will catch on some day.