The COVID-19 pandemic has forced people around the world to adjust to new ways of working. Whether you have returned to the office or are continuing to work from home, taking advantage of your lunch break is a crucial part of your wellness routine.

In our constantly plugged-in world, an “always-on” mentality of overwork can affect your well-being and productivity. A survey of 1,600 North American employees found that almost 90 percent of workers felt that a lunch break helped them feel refreshed and ready to return to work, but that many don’t prioritize that mid-day break time.

Here are some healthy ways to take back your lunch break:

Eat a Healthy Meal

First and foremost, a lunchtime should be taken literally; eating is never something you should skip in the name of increased productivity. A healthy lunch is ideally made up of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. If you’re not great at packing lunch ahead of time, try making extra food at dinner or put together a simple wrap with veggies.

Get Outside

It’s easy to spend your lunch browsing the web, but studies have shown that a walk in the fresh air can restore your attention span and boost your mood. Whether it’s a stroll around the block or an errand at the corner store, walking burns calories and helps improve your circulation. Getting outdoors also provides some much-needed vitamin D, essential for strong bones.

Social Time

We derive huge benefits from interaction. Research has shown that social isolation can put people at higher risk for issues like high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, and anxiety. Though in-person activities may not be possible during the pandemic, try finding a group of co-workers that you enjoy talking to and set a calendar invite for a virtual lunch.

Burn Some Calories

The dangers of a sedentary lifestyle are well documented, from negative effects on your mood to higher risks of cancer and obesity. There are a lot of great ways to get a quick workout indoors, including a set of lunges or squats, using hand weights, or using an exercise ball instead of a desk chair. Just five minutes of yoga can help to decrease stress and increase your flexibility.

Stretch Out

Sometimes a walk or workout isn’t in the cards for your lunch hour. If you can’t get away from your desk, consider a brief stretching routine. Stretching increases flexibility, improves blood flow to muscles, and helps prevent back pain, among other benefits. Some simple quadricep stretches, hamstring stretches, or calf raises can help offset the effects of sitting all day.

Practice Mindfulness

Simply put, mindfulness is the process of fully focusing your awareness on the present moment, even if you’re just walking to the copier or eating a snack. We all think about what happened at that morning meeting or our obligations at home, but it’s healthy to take time to stay in the present.

Broaden Your Horizons

There are plenty of ways to remain productive while taking a break from your email. Reading a book, taking an online professional development class, honing a new hobby, or learning a new language are great ways to keep your mind active.

Keep a Journal

A stressful day at work can lead to pent-up emotions, and journaling can be a great way to get your thoughts organized and stay in the moment. You may even find that the boost in creativity and self-discipline helps you improve at your day job!

For more tips on healthy living, visit the Caring section of our Lifespan Living health and wellness blog.

Lifespan Blog Team

The Lifespan Blog Team is working to provide you with timely and pertinent information that will help keep you and your family happy and healthy.