Invest in a healthier lunch hour

By Steve Roark Tri-State Outside

January 21, 2014

All jobs come with stress of some form during the day: Deadlines, equipment breakdowns, something.

And if you have the iconic “desk job” where you sit all day inside a building, those mental stresses are even more pronounced.

Your lunch break can be a recharge time. But a lot of folks are working through lunch while swallowing a sandwich or doing non-restful things. It’s no real surprise to hear researchers say this is unhealthy, and we ought not do it.

So what follows is some info on using your mid-day break to its full advantage your lunch break away from your desk to mentally step away from the stress and recharge.

•Do some form of exercise during the break, even if it’s just walking around inside the building. Sitting a lot is unhealthy and not what our bodies were designed to do. Stand up and move around a minute or two throughout the day.

•Get outside to somewhere green. Studies that show that being around trees and green things is relaxing

•Focus on something uplifting during lunch instead of doing “busy” things like running errands. I suppose reading a good book counts, bur reading that book under a tree is better.

•We are social creatures, and so it can be refreshing to socially connect with your co -workers. Conversations with others in the break room are a good thing.

•One study showed that eating small amounts while working throughout the day rather that all at once during lunch helps maintain metabolism and avoid the after lunch sluggishness that often occurs. Enjoying the food helps with the work stress some as well. This may also give you more time to do some active things during lunch like walking.

Let me reemphasize the health benefits of having contact with nature. With all of the electronic devices at our disposal now, people (especially kids) are not getting outside as much as they should.

Study after study is showing that being in nature and among the trees can make us happier, reduce stress, and improve sleep and brain function.

Green spaces like parks and greenways also tend to encourage a more active lifestyle and help reduce the possibility of developing diabetes and obesity.

So, as I’ve been preaching for years, GET OUTSIDE and take joy in it. Oh, and get the kids out there too.

Information for this article came from a Wall Street Journal article written by Heidi Mitchell. Steve Roark is the Area Forester in Tazewell, Tenn. for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Forestry Division.