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Smarten up your lunch break with these three healthy ideas.

Lunch break­: the midday pause in your regularly scheduled workday meant to give you an opportunity to refuel your body and mind before the rest of the workday resumes. For most of us, we have only about one hour to satisfy this necessity, so why not try to maximize that short window of time and give yourself what you really need to be more productive and creative?

1) Eat smart foods.

There are many foods that fall into this category and there are numerous slide shows and lists out there you can look to for some more variety. Here are my personal favorites in this category:

Avocados – This super-fruit is full of monounsaturated fat that helps with healthy blood flow to the heart and brain. It can help with concentration while satisfying your stomach.

Almonds – These nuts, especially when eaten raw, are high in antioxidant vitamin E, which is linked to a decrease in cognitive decline as you age. And just one handful, which is about an ounce, contains one-eighth of our necessary daily protein.

Berries – Raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries—so many colorful choices. They have been linked to a class of compounds that are known to activate the learning and memory centers in the brain.

Would you like fries with that? Absolutely not. Ellen’s lunch is packed with colorful whole foods.

2) Change your scenery.

Get up from your chair and leave the confines of your desk and office. Sit outside and breathe in some fresh air at a park to awaken your attention span. Sit in a coffee shop or café if you have some work that you feel you must get done after you’ve eaten. Research shows that the ambient sounds in a café are at the most beneficial sound level for creativity.

On sunny days, I make it a point to enjoy lunch outside at a nearby green space downtown. The sun shining, birds chirping, and passersby give me an opportunity to focus on something new and interesting. I am able to gain perspective and can return to the office feeling more energized.

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3) Give yourself permission to do nothing.

We are always on the go during the workday. There is always something to tackle, and a list to be checked off or manage. Sometimes, the best way to reenergize for the second half of the day is to take a complete mental pause and meditate, relax, and just be.

It’s ironic how doing nothing actually requires a great deal of effort. I try to remain mindful and acknowledge when I need to take a time-out and recharge. I leave my cell phone at the office. I grab a cold iced tea or bottle of water and then I find a place to sit where I can be left to my thoughts. And then I let the thoughts come and go, never focusing on any one of them for too long, and I allow myself to be comfortable with that. There is much to be said for the art of doing nothing.

 

By Ellen Aldrich

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