The calendar flips to a new year, and suddenly we’re all supposed to be crushing at work, muttering bizarre affirmations as we yoga ourselves into cinnamon rolls, lifting obscene amounts of weight, or taking cold showers. But if you have no desire to start doing dawn patrol at Equinox and still want to boost your healthy habits in the new year, we say start by improving your lunch break. It’s the perfect time for simple practices anyone can activate for total-body benefits, from flexibility gains to mental clarity—so GQ asked a panel of experts for their top recommendations.
1. Drink Water.
Specifically, two 16 ounces of it. Simple enough, right? The American College of Sports Medicine suggests a minimum of about 60 ounces daily, and according to Lisa Moskovitz, nutritionist and author of The Core 3 Healthy Eating Plan and founder of NY Nutrition Group, midday is the most pivotal point in the day to drink up to feel your best.
“Hydrating is one self-care habit that offers so many benefits, including improving energy levels, digestion, metabolism, and concentration,” she says. “Focus on filling up at least one to two eight-ounce glasses of water halfway through your day so you can get in this essential substance when you need it the most.”
Good news: Seltzer counts, too,
2. Find a Small Moment of Mindfulness.
Meditation and breathwork are great at any hour, but the trick to seeing benefits is to make it into a habit by choosing the time of day that works best for you. And for anyone who works a high stress job, a mid-day mindful moment of meditation can be a real bulwark against an overflowing inbox.
“Meditating in the middle of the day invites us to pause, reflect, and reset,” says Dora Kamau, a mindfulness and meditation Teacher at Headspace. “If you’re in a role that comes with high stress and anxiety, the middle of the day can be quite a blur. But if we can take even 5 to 10 minutes at lunch to check-in with ourselves, we step out of the cycle of doing, doing, doing and can allow the mind and body to just be and rest.”
An app like Headspace can help, sure, but so can a few deep breaths using the 4-4-4 method. Inhale for four counts, hold for four counts, exhale for four counts. Repeat at least five times, and you’re good to go.
3. Stand Up. (Even Better: Walk.)
Sitting for long uninterrupted stretches is bad for you—this is not news. Even worse is keeping your leg crossed: But doing it for long periods of time can lead to increases in muscle imbalance of the crossed leg, according to Austin physical therapist Mitchell Moser.
So aim to stand up every 30 to 45 minutes throughout your day, and move around a little extra during your lunch break. “This will help to break up the time spent in the cross legged sustained position,” says Moser, who also recommends crossing your legs at the ankles instead. “This’ll reduce the strain on your joints and muscles and be better in the long term.”