How to use your lunchbreak to manage your stress

A quick glance at the office clock is enough to tell you that it's lunchtime, and suddenly there are choices to be made…

What will you eat? Will you eat at your desk or go outside? Will you even take your lunchbreak or skip it to carry on working?

Decisions, decisions.

It’s unfortunate that the more stressed we feel, the more likely it will be that we’ll skip lunch. I mean who honestly has time to go out for a walk or buy something fresh and healthy to eat when a deadline is looming, and that knot of panic is tightening in your stomach?

Whilst on the surface this strategy for being more productive may seem like a smart move, there’s now enough evidence to actually say otherwise. In fact the more stressed we are, the more we need to be taking a break.

Lunchtime as a reboot

If you’re feeling stuck and frustrated at what you’re working on, one of the best things you can do is change your environment. When we feel that sense of contraction in our bodies, what we really need is to expand. That means getting up and physically changing your surroundings to something which is not your desk. This could be as simple as going for a walk around the office to chat to your colleagues, or just popping outside for some fresh air. In fact, taking even a short break from your desk (15-20minutes) is a proven tool to increase your productivity and decision making for the rest of the day.

Find some greenery

It should come as no surprise that our brains actually get more of a break by being around nature. So whilst you may not have a park on your doorstep, I would encourage you to explore what is around your office. When I worked in the city the lack of a green oasis never stopped me from connecting with nature. Instead, I discovered the tree-lined streets around my office to help release all that stale air and built up stress.  Heading outside also gives your body the opportunity increase its levels of Vitamin D, a vitamin known to help with stress levels.

Rethink your comfort foods

Unfortunately stressful situations often see us reaching for the foods high in sugar, unhealthy fats and processed ingredients. But whilst you may get an initial rush of energy, those foods are going to play havoc on your mood, your sugar levels and your levels of irritability over the rest of the day. What you fuel your body with matters, and more so in times of stress. So if one of those ‘crazy’ weeks is looming, plan ahead. Foods shown to help nourish your body in times of stress include green leafy veggies, avocados, nuts and seeds, eggs, and of course the old faithful bar of dark chocolate (just go easy and limit yourself to a couple of squares!).

Focus on nourishment

It’s also worth remembering one simple practice to keep in mind when you’re feeling under the pump. Simply ask yourself when faced with a decision, ‘will this nourish me or take nourishment away?’ This question is often enough to bring us back to the present moment and simple enough not to feel overwhelming.


Jayne Corner is the founder of The Empowered Woman. Combining Wellness Coaching and Clinical Hypnotherapy, Jayne helps women manage their stress and get unstuck from unhealthy habits and negative thinking. With a background in the fast paced world of advertising, she now bridges the gap for her clients between the corporate world and a more holistic approach to life.