Spending Lunchtime Effectively

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Today I’ll share a bit about lunchtime habits and it’s relationship to our mental & emotional agility.

Did you know, our nervous system naturally goes through phases of activation and relaxation throughout the day? Here’s an image of this from handout used in my private work, if you’re able to see. 

For most of us, we generally start our day in the morning and feel pretty productive up until lunchtime. This is when our nervous system goes into “activation”.  

Come lunchtime however, we find ourselves slowing down. This is because the nervous system is entering it’s natural “relaxation” state, having had a good amount of “activation” prior to that. Lunchtime is (for most of us) when the nervous system winds down a little in order to recuperate and goes into its “rest and digest” mode. Blood flow is also directed away from the brain and towards the digestion. And so we feel a little less mentally productive.

The state of your nervous system influences your thoughts and experience of life significantly.
For many of us, we may be used to pushing through high-intensity work after lunch which forces the nervous system out of its natural rhythm and often into fight/flight-mode. When this happens repeatedly, we begin to struggle with:
digestive problems physically (blood flow is directed away from digestion)
mental focus or mental rest, both of which feel harder
emotionally blocked (feelinglessness) or overwhelmed.

If this resonates with you, you may find it useful to look into a few factors around your lunchtime.  
Here are some questions to ponder:
How long a time do you currently give yourself at lunchtime?

Would it be a possibility to stretch your lunchtime a little longer?
This is not a possiblity for everyone but if it is for you, it helps you move in tune with the nervous system’s rhythm for rest and facilitates digestion. This will help you feel more productive afterwards. I personally try and take 1 hour where possible.

Would it be possible to go for a short walk, read, do something creative, journal, or move?
To reconnect with yourself, reboot, gain perspective, reprioritise your tasks.

Are you eating food that helps you feel active?
Due to our gut-brain connection, what we eat influences how we think. If a certain type of food isn’t right for you, your body communicates this to you through sluggishness, spacing out, or feelings that are a little off. 

Would it be possible to slow down and notice little things about your lunch such as the ingredients, the tastes, the textures?
This helps you step away from all the problems you’re trying to solve and return to simple things in the present moment. 30 Days of Bitesized Mindfulness has many practices to help you with this, and there is 1 lesson dedicated specifically to food enjoyment.

Consider your lunchtime patterns, and think about 1-2 things you could add to your lunchtime routine this week. Then see how it feels afterwards – consider reflecting if your changes felt good to you and if it did, in what way. It do wonders for your nervous system over time 🙂

I’ll be introducing two things to my lunchtime this week: hydration and a walk.

Here’s a quote by Virginia Woolf: “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” 

Food for thought, folks 🙂

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