When I think back to my elementary school years, one of the best parts of my day (besides recess and Ms. Zamzow’s epic story time) was lunch. When that noon-time bell rang, we would all make a bee-line for the cafeteria, anxiously awaiting the *5-star gourmet food that beckoned us from behind the lunch ladies aprons.
*When you’re eight years old, chicken nuggets, frozen pizza squares and chocolate milk cartons were the best of the best.
Not only was lunch time a chance for us to stuff our faces with said chicken nuggets, frozen pizza squares, and chocolate milk off of
fancy plastic trays, but it gave us a solid half an hour to recharge our little batteries; laughing with our friends, bartering cupcakes for pudding cups, and hitting the playground for a no-holds-bar game of kick ball. Often times that hour of each day was just what we needed to mentally and physically prepare for whatever was ahead of us: a math test, a book report, soccer practice, watching a marathon of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. etc.
As I grew older, I began to value my lunch breaks even more. As a full-time student turned working professional, these moments of relief beckoned to me the second I walked into the door of my classroom/office (and not just because my stomach was already growling, hungry from breakfast earlier). I love my job, I really do. But no matter how amazing that all is, a girl needs to take a break, a breather; to regroup, recharge and relax. That necessary break is even more necessary if you have a stressful or harried of a job.
As someone who has admittedly forgone many a lunch break, scarfing down instead a Lean Cuisine at my desk rather than stepping away for 20 minutes in order to respond to an email box flooding with messages from clients and coworkers, or to meet those looming deadlines, I understand the temptation. I really do.
But guess what? You and I aren’t doing ourselves any favors. We may think we’re saving time and energy, when in reality, dissing our lunch break and staying plopped in our cubicles is not only unsanitary (you don’t even want to know the food that’s been collected in my keyboard), but it’s denying you an opportunity to stretch your legs, get some fresh air and go out and mingle with other human beings. Of course, there will be certain times when your day is just too strawberry jam-packed to go out for lunch, but on those other days when your work load is lighter and you have a bit more time, try these tips to really pack a punch our of your lunch break:
1. Pack a punch-worth lunch.
For the most part, I’m a huge fan of packing my own lunch. Not only does it save on the moolah, but it’s often times a bit more healthier and it great for when you don’t have a lot of time. I’d like to consider myself the sandwich queen, however even I can get bored of that day in and day out. That’s why I try to spice things up a bit every once in a while. Instead of having the usual PB&J, try a PP&P Sammy (peanut butter, pickle and potato chip). WHAT?! Or how about a wheatberry salad or chicken salad with apricots and almonds? Num.ers. I love me a good chicken nugget, but I think these ideas make them seem just so elementary.
2. Try out a new restaurant.
I try not to eat out for lunch too often, but every once in a while, it’s nice to grab a few coworkers and check out that new sushi place around the corner. You’ll have an excuse to leave your desk and see your fellow coworkers outside of their cubicles. Taking in a new change of scenery and some delicious grub will not only help to refresh your mind (and taste buds) but it can help to take your mind off of that demanding client or looming deadline.
3. Get in a quick sweat sesh.
I’m generally a rise-and-shine exerciser, knocking out a few miles or hitting up the weights right away in the morning pre-work, but every so often it’s nice to grab my running shoes and hit the pavement in the middle of the day (especially if I’m having an particularly stressful day). If you don’t feel like working up a sweat outside or at a nearby gym, don’t worry. Sneaking in a midday walk around the block or through a park close by can even better. You’ll not only get to unleash some of the positive endorphins, but you’ll also be able to get some vitamin D, returning to your desk relaxed and refreshed, ready to tackle the afternoon ahead. Consider it an adult recess.
4. Read a good book.
Being a librarian, it’s kind of my prerogative to carry around a book (s) everywhere I go. I never leave the house without at least
one two three in my car and purse. Lately I’ve been taking one of these great page-turners and my lunch box and grabbing a picnic table outside, diving into not only a tasty midday meal but a delicious story as well. It’s another excellent way to take your mind off of the stresses of the day for at least a little while. Just make sure you don’t loose track of time–I may or may not have gotten pulled into a book and nearly forgot I was supposed to go back to work. Oops.
5. Call a friend (or your mom) you haven’t talked to in a while.
Life gets busy as well all know, and it can be hard to find the time to catch up with friends or family. Take your lunch break as an opportunity to give your bestie or your mom a call. Nothing brightens my day more than getting a life update from my nearest and dearest. It might be a good idea however to schedule a time and day when your phone date will take place, just to ensure that the other person will be available to chat.
It can be hard sometimes to allow ourselves the time to relax and recharge during the busy and hectic work day, but in those times, I want you to channel your inner elementary school self; remember how excited you got, how beneficial that 45-minutes to an hour was for not only your productivity, but for your health (and sanity) as well.
And with these great ideas, you’ll never want to miss out on your lunch break again!