Stress is a normal response to certain situations or challenges. In fact, stress can be a good thing as it actually stimulates growth and the release of chemicals that heal the body and make it stronger. However, when in excess or prolonged periods, stress can be detrimental to one’s physical, emotional, and mental health; something that perhaps you might be all too familiar with, especially at work.
Lunch breaks are more than just for eating, sipping coffee, and catching up on the latest office gossip. They are also the perfect opportunities to decompress from work in the middle of the day, meaning that you won’t have to wait for the clock to strike five until you finally breathe.
Here are some of the best methods of stress relief that you can use during your lunch break:
1. Get a quick massage
The longer the massage, the better you feel afterward, but a quick thirty-minute massage can be enough to help relieve your body pain and, more importantly, give your mind some time to rest from the mental workout of the day. Find an experienced massage therapist near your workplace and pop in for a quick ten or thirty-minute message during your lunch break. Just make sure you don’t eat before the appointment to avoid any digestion problems.
2. Practice mindful eating
Do you eat lunch with a phone in your hand and only half of your attention on your food? Or perhaps do you alternate between taking bites of your food and telling a story to your co-workers?
If you tend to eat lunch distracted, you may not be taking full advantage of your lunch break. Apart from that, you may be inadvertently making yourself gain weight since we tend to eat more when we’re distracted.
Instead of letting yourself eat distractedly, practice mindful eating. Mindful eating is focusing on your food, enjoying each bite as you take it, and paying more attention to the physical sensations involved. It is a form of meditation that can help you de-stress and enjoy your food much better, which can also help you eat less and stay in shape.
3. Take a walk
Fresh air and being on your feet can do a lot for your mental and physical health. In the middle of the workday, take some time to walk around the block or through the nearby park. By the end of your walk, you will most likely feel refreshed mentally and physically, ready to take on the second half of your day with less stress and more motivation. If you have a co-worker to take a walk with, then that’s much better.
Sometimes, just sitting in silence is exactly what we need to manage everything that’s overwhelming us at the present. This is especially true at work where sources of stress are ever-present and seemingly unrelenting. Hence, whenever you feel the stress becoming a little too much (or if you just want some quiet time to decompress), find a quiet place to sit and meditate.
Practice breathing methods and visualization exercises to help you relieve stress much easier and faster. If your workplace doesn’t have a quiet area you can use for meditation, find another spot outside, perhaps in a nearby park or a slow coffee shop.
5. Consume media
Reading a book, listening to music, watching a show, and other forms of media consumption are some of the most effective ways of relieving stress. More than just a distraction technique, consuming media helps the body relax by lowering the heart rate and easing tension in the muscles. And thanks to the modern smartphone, we can listen to any music or read any book we want at any time, be it in the middle of the break room or a quiet corner in your office.
6. Make a priority list
If the source of your stress is the very long list of tasks that you need to accomplish, making a priority list can help you work more efficiently, and thus, make you less stressed about the deadlines. Moreover, listing down what you need to do on one piece of paper can make your tasks less intimidating, and maybe even make you realize that they are not as overwhelming as they seemed in your head.
Work is a major source of stress for many of us, especially those who work in fast-paced environments. For this reason, learning how to de-stress while at work (and not just waiting for the day to end to decompress), is a crucial skill for maintaining our health, sanity, as well as work performance.