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10 Ways to Relieve Stress on Your Lunch Hour

Person having lunch

You cannot avoid stress at work entirely, so it’s best to develop habits that help you manage it. The workplace (at either home or the office) creates stressful situations that, if not addressed, can lead to health issues. Studies have shown that increased stress levels can lead to hypertension, higher rates of heart attacks, and other adverse health effects. The American Institute of Stress (AIS) lists four types of job stress and anxiety that plagues today’s workers.

In order of severity, these stressors include:

  • Suffering from an unmanageable workload (46%).
  • Struggling to deal with other people (28%).
  • An inability to manage work with personal lives (20%).
  • A lack of job security (6%).

Everyone deals with stress differently. The AIS doesn’t provide a list of the most or least stressful occupations as it’s not job-specific. The person and their environment determine stress levels, with some individuals having better coping mechanisms to deal with different situations. Effectively managing stress requires a mindset that you are always in control regardless of environmental pressures.

Top 10 Stress Relief Tips for Your Lunch Hour

Even if you have a healthy office setup, you can use your daily lunch hour to relieve your job stress. Adopting small changes that improve your mental health and help you deal with stressful situations depends on finding the right relaxation techniques. Here are 10 of the top tips that may be right for your lunchtime routine.

1. Go for a Walk

Walking is a great way to relax. If your office has a garden or is close to a park, that would be an ideal place for a walk. You could also walk to a restaurant for lunch instead of driving. A 30-minute walk can boost your mood, help you burn calories, and keep you healthy at the same time. You should plan your route to see how far you’ll be walking (and factor in the time it’ll take to make it back to the office), and if necessary pack some comfortable shoes.

2. Find a Way to Stretch

Although you may not be able to get in a full yoga routine, you could relieve stress by stretching at your desk. It’s even possible for you to do an entire “deskercise” workout using your desk and chair. Stretching can help you relieve neck and shoulder pains, reduce stress, and improve your blood circulation, which is good for your joints and your heart.

3. Drink a Healthy Beverage

If you’re working from home or the office, find a quiet place to enjoy a healthy beverage like green tea. It contains many polyphenol antioxidants that provide health benefits and increase your serotonin levels. The tranquil space will also reduce your stress levels while you reset for the next phase of your day. You could also pair your beverage with another activity like reading a book or magazine.

4. Catch Up with Friends

Everyone needs a break from office conversations at some point. Schedule a call with one of your friends during your lunchtime if you cannot see them in person. You could also do a video call if you’ll be at your desk. A non-work related conversation for as little as 10 minutes can improve your mood and boost your executive function (the mental agility that helps you solve problems).

5. Take a Power Nap

Napping at work is no longer a taboo. Research even shows it can improve alertness and performance. You’ll have to master the habit of napping only 20 or 30 minutes during your break, as any more time reduces the benefits. This may be easier when you are working from home, but you can still do it at the office. Follow these tips to master the art of the power nap for reducing work stress.

6. Spend Time with Your Pet

When working from home, you can take your dog for a walk during your lunch hour. This improves your mood and gives your best friend a healthy workout. Just playing with your pet for a few minutes will reduce the levels of cortisol in your body and decrease your blood pressure. More offices are also now making provisions for you to bring your pet to work as they are learning about the health benefits it brings.

A woman working on a laptop while her pet dog lays down next to her

7. Find a Way to Laugh

The Mayo Clinic attests to the benefits that laughter brings to your mental state and body’s physiology. It soothes tension, activates your stress responses, and helps increase your oxygen intake, which is good for your organs. You can watch a short cartoon or video on YouTube, or subscribe to a comedy site that produces funny clips. Everyone has a different sense of humor, so you’ll have to choose the content that works for you.

8. Keep a Gratitude Journal

Journaling about your thoughts and feelings can help clear your mind. Similarly, it’s good to remind yourself exactly what you appreciate in your work and personal life. When done correctly, gratitude journaling is an excellent stress management tool, and you can do it consistently, occasionally, or sporadically (as you prefer). Keep a journal close for those lunch hours when inspiration strikes.

9. Listen to Relaxing Music

Office acoustics can become distracting, and it’s common for workers to use headphones to tune out noises. You can change your mood, refocus your mind, and improve your performance by listening to relaxing music. Everyone’s taste will differ, but science shows that some songs provide better relaxation to listeners. Create a playlist of songs that relax you, and use your lunch break to refocus your mind and reduce your stress with music.

10. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is taking off as a stress-reduction technique. When you meditate, you become more aware of your surroundings, your feelings, and your subconscious thoughts. The effects are lasting, helping you make better decisions and respond to challenging situations more effectively the longer you practice mindfulness. Find a space that suits you and use any of the many online techniques to meditate and refocus your attention.

Finding a Healthy Work-Life Balance with Reduced Stress

After you’ve set up an ergonomic and healthy work environment, it’s essential to find the right balance during your workday. Using your lunch hour to reduce your stress levels can help you be more productive, healthy, and satisfied in your job. You can use the tips above to develop healthy, relaxing habits that reduce your stress within the minimum amount of time.

To provide you with the healthiest workspace, you should also see Kensington’s Ergonomic range of home and office solutions.