Day 15: Take your lunch breaks and get outside

Our lives these days are mostly spent travelling from one indoor environment to another. Even the methods of transportation don’t allow us much opportunity for breathing in fresh air and fully taking in our surroundings. I feel very lucky that I have a commute to and from work that includes about 30 minutes of walking both ways. It gives me time to think, time to breathe, and time to be outside.

Of course, it’s much easier to make excuses for not spending time outside as we’re getting into the colder months, the clocks have gone back and the nights are drawing in much earlier than in summer. And if you live and work in a big city, there can be even less impetus to step outside just for the hell of it.

But are we doing ourselves a disservice by sticking to our comfortably warm offices and homes for 23 hours a day? I think so. I think we all know so really. But I don’t think you realise exactly how much so until you make the decision to go for a walk just because.

Throughout this summer, I had taken to spending my lunch-hour lying in the sun on the grass outside my work building, soaking up some precious Vitamin D and reading paleo books on my Kindle. Having previously always eaten at my desk while never pulling my eyes from the computer screen and my work, my decision earlier this year to de-stress and take time for myself felt strange and a little bit naughty.

Kindle and cup of tea

SUMMER: Can you tell what is it yet? Yes, that is Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint. And yes, in the background, that’s a cup of coffee… refilled many times. Those were the days.

We don’t have a staff room where I work and most people eat their lunch at their desk and work through their break. Stepping away from this culture is tough when you want to be seen as working as hard as – no, harder than – everybody else. Having your colleagues walk past you while you’re sunbathing in the middle of the day feels a bit odd if you’ve conditioned yourself to work long hours and always look busy. But it was so worth it, and I felt so refreshed in the afternoon, that I soon got used to it.

But, like I said, we don’t have a staff room where I work. And now the days really are getting colder, sunbathing and reading outside becomes far less appealing, especially when it’s raining. The temptation is to fall back into the same routine – heat up your lunch in the microwave, sit at your desk, and try to pretend you’re relaxing on your lunch-break by checking Facebook or watching a Ted talk. But it’s so hard to resist the pull of your inbox when you see a new email just popped in.

If you don’t have time for yourself today, you won’t have time for yourself tomorrow. Make time!

I think you have to move away from your desk at lunch time to fully take advantage of your break. There is more to life than working, we are not robots, and we must allow ourselves to spend time relaxing and chilling out… even and especially in the middle of the work day.

And the colder weather doesn’t necessarily mean that lunch break has to be taken inside. The autumn months are some of the most beautiful to me. There’s nothing more comforting than walking out in cold weather, wrapped up in warm clothes and kicking through fallen leaves in the park.

Standing with my boots in the fallen autumn leaves

I’m still a child when it comes to kicking through the leaves!

So, today I decided to take a walk on my lunch break. No music, no destination, no anything. Just a circular walk for half an hour that took me through the beautiful nearby park, past the duck pond where a father and daughter were feeding the geese and pigeons, and gave me the opportunity to look around, notice my surroundings, and breathe in some fresh air.

The beautiful park and bandstand 5 minutes from where I work.

The beautiful park and bandstand 5 minutes from where I work.

It was so worth it. When we spend so much time at work day in, day out, it’s important that we take these special moments for ourselves. It feels indulgent when we do it, but that’s good! Why shouldn’t life be indulgent? We spend our whole working lives waiting for the weekend – even those of us who love the jobs we’re in. We’re wishing our lives away and living in the future. Bringing yourself back into the present, taking advantage of your lunch break and setting aside some time just to be on your own outside with nature can have huge benefits.

A lot has been written on the benefits of working outside and just spending more time with nature, but I particularly agree with Mark Sisson’s article on 17 reasons to walk more this year and even more so with The health benefits of spending more time in nature.

How do you spend your lunch break? Are you chained to your desk or do you manage to get out and take your whole lunch hour?


Food diary
Breakfast: 3x gluten free sausages with salad
Lunch: Big-O-Bacon burger (batch cooked from weekend) and two mini lamb burgers with leftover parsnips and carrots
Dinner: Beef crumbles with spinach and mushrooms
Snacks: None. Not even a coconut water. The bigger meals must be working!

Pain level (out of 10)
Woke up with pain around a 2, which subsided towards lunch time. I’ve had very low level pain most of the day and into the evening – around about 1, but I was relatively pain-free for a few hours around midday.

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