Take a break

27 May 2014 by
First published: 31 May 2014

Skipping lunch is all too common these days as our workloads pile up. It’s important to take a break to stretch your legs, and eating something nourishing is essential for your productivity and your wellbeing. We chat to food psychologist Dr Christy Fergusson to get her top tips for making sure you get some midday respite.


Shift your mind-set
Don’t let work pressure guilt-trip you into skipping your lunch break. ‘O2 Priority conducted some research into our attitudes towards lunch breaks, and they found that 60 per cent of people weren’t taking a lunch break because they felt guilty about taking a rest from work,’ says Dr Fergusson. You need to re-train your brain and remember that a short break will make you more productive. ‘The first step is recognising that looking after you is vitally important to your ability to work effectively, and by taking a break you’re likely to find yourself more productive in the afternoon,’ says Dr Fergusson. ‘It’s not the number of hours that you’re at your desk, it’s how effectively you use your time while you’re there.’


Get out of the office
And make sure you get away from your desk and out of the office for at least 10 minutes. ‘It’s very important to get out of the office if you can, even if it’s just for a short walk around the block,’ says Dr Fergusson. ‘If you’re out of the office you’re less likely to get distracted or given tasks by your colleagues, so it allows you to take a mental break.’ And try to get to the park or somewhere a bit more peaceful to allow your brain to chillax. ‘A change of scenery helps to stimulate the mind, too, and it can be useful to help crack that problem you’ve been mulling over all morning,’ says Dr Fergusson.


Be mindful of your food
Don’t rush your lunch! ‘A problem which many of us have is failing to switch off from distractions while we’re eating,’ says Dr Fergusson. ‘We’re often checking social media, looking at online banking, or even keeping an eye on work emails – so we hardly notice what we’re consuming.’ And that can leave you feeling unsatisfied and lead to you overeating. ‘Your body and mind have natural mechanisms which alert you when you’re full, but these are overridden if you’re too busy thinking about other things to notice,’ says Dr Fergusson.


Look for good deals
Bringing you own lunch is a great away to be healthy and keep costs down, but it can chain you at your desk if there’s nowhere suitable to sit out and eat it. ‘It’s understandable that financial pressure can shape our lunchtime rituals, but there are many deals available – of which one is the O2 £1 Lunch deal, available every Monday – which allow you to have an affordable treat and lunch out once a week,’ says Dr Fergusson.


Take your time when eating
Don’t rush your munching.People spend just 15 minutes of their lunch break actually eating, which is too quick,’ says Dr Fergusson. ‘Eating too quickly means that you are prone to feeling hungry shortly after you’ve finished and the food doesn’t sustain you for as long.’ Move into the slow lane. ‘Taking some time out to slow down the pace a little while eating is something we should all try. Although it may not come naturally, you’ll find that it becomes increasingly easier,’ says Dr Fergusson.


Dr Christy Fergusson, one of the UK’s leading food psychologists, is working with O2 to mark the launch of its £1 Lunch – available to customers every Monday via the O2 Priority app: http://www.o2priority.co.uk/HowToGetIt