October 27, 2020


Minute read

Six Ways To Spice Up Your Lunch

I don’t know about you, but some days I find myself just skipping my opportunity to take a real lunch. Sure, there are many days when I will sit with Charlie and we’ll eat something I’ve cooked. But then we end up chatting about business and I never actually take the  P   A   U   S   E  that our brains crave — and deserve! 

So, here are a few practices that I am vowing to adopt during the week ahead, and hopefully henceforth! 

  1. STEP AWAY FROM THE LAPTOP – If you work from home, it can be so tempting to just work through your lunch and shove your salad (or whatever) in your mouth while typing away. I plan to get up and leave my laptop and cellphone at my desk and, for at least 20 minutes, do something that is entirely un-work-related. 
  2. TAKE A MINDFUL MEAL – You might recall that in a recent article I explained that our prefrontal cortex, or PFC is the “boss” part of our brain? Well, the boss-man needs proper nourishment so that he can function and make top-notch choices. Not only do brain-boosting qualitarian (aka living, whole, real, nourishing) foods help to release things like brain derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) and norepinephrine, but when we skip our midday meal we risk unstable glucose levels. This glucose instability leads to a whole series of ramifications, including what we affectionately call “brain fog.”
  3. NURTURE YOUR NEED FOR NATURE – There is absolutely nothing like spending time with Mother Nature. Spending time around plants and greenery allows for our brain to reset. This resetting allows for greater focus, improved vagal tone, and optimal nervous system function. I must warn you, however, if you live in NYC (or other dense, urban areas), you are better off to stepping into a park rather than roaming the streets as all that street-chaos can have the opposite effect. If it’s raining, or if you don’t have time to go outside, research shows that just looking at nature can be helpful. Just try this video here!
  4. MOVE YOUR BODY – You knew this was in here! 😉 Moving your body not only releases all sorts of feel-good brain hormones and chemicals, but it releases those that help with brain optimization. (Unsurprisingly, this is one of the four foundational practices of our new program, The Focus Factor! Learn more here.) If you’re not really about movement, I dare you to take 4 minutes, click here, and try not to move your hips a bit. 😉 
  5. GET IN A MINDFULNESS OR BREATH PRACTICE – Once you’ve finished reading this email, get to it–put your phone away! Spending 20 minutes in meditation, doing a breath practice, mindfully walking, eating or listening to a guided practice can improve your mood and sense of calm, but also lowers your blood pressure, helps vagal tone, and prevents your limbic system’s rash, emotional take-over when you’re making important choices.
  6. EAT SOMETHING WARMING – There are a number of foods that help to keep your “internal fire” going (particularly helpful in the cooler months) and your energy levels elevated. Some of my favorites are spices like cumin, ginger, turmeric, saffron, cinnamon, and even chili. Brightland’s Ador (chili) olive oil, for example, is great on a salad, roasted root veggies, or avocado toast). Cooking, and specifically chopping vegetables, is one of my favorite, soothing activities to do, so I get the best of both worlds. A calming activity that warms me and fires me up from the inside out!

Here’s to a spiced-up, and more deliberate lunch time! What are your favorite lunch time activities? I’d love to hear them!

About the Author: Laura Araujo

Passionate about accessible education and evidence-based wellness, Laura founded The MAPS Institute, an educational wellness editorial and platform. Aside from her passion for research and educating, Laura is a classically trained vocalist, sound therapist, and a practitioner and teacher of Ashtanga and Restorative Yoga. She is the creator of the MAPS (Mindfulness, Activation, Purpose, and Surrender) philosophy and is in continual pursuit of helping her students and herself find balance amid the chaos around and within them. When not sifting through Nature Magazine, complaining about their paywalls, she enjoys trying new wine varietals, experimenting in the kitchen, riding her bicycle (sometimes cross-country), and spending time with her husband Charlie, cockapoo Miles, and expected baby girl, Ella.  Click here to follow the MAPS Institute on social media.



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