In a lot of cases, your lunch breaks add up to five hours per week, which equates to around 22 hours in the average month. With that in mind, we say… get out there and use it! Make the most of your lunchtime. And these are just a few suggestions of how to make the best of that valuable spare time.
Go for a run
Use your lunch break as exercising time. Running is one of the best forms of exercise, not only for getting fit but for weight control too. A 30-minute run, three to four times a week, trims your waistline, strengthens the cardiovascular system, improves muscle tone and definition and installs a positive mental attitude. A running break away from your desk will also leave you feeling more refreshed and should give you boundless energy all afternoon.
Make that call
We’re all in danger of working so hard that we never quite get around to keeping in touch with the ones we love – be that our parents, our grandparents, our children, or our friends. Sometimes, we’re too tired at night to make that call. But perhaps those loved ones are around at lunchtime and you can chat away on your phone while enjoying some fresh air, even if it’s just around the corner. It might even free up a bit of ‘you time’ later.
Take the plunge
If there’s a swimming pool near your work, you have no excuse - get down there! Most pools have lanes sectioned off over the lunch period. If there isn’t one near work, why not work through your lunch break and leave an hour early to go after work? Half an hour’s swimming burns off more than 300 calories, and it’s great for stress relief and improving your all-over body shape.
Write your thoughts down
Writing is a great stress-buster, and can help you air your deepest emotions. You could scribble your thoughts in a diary, or get in touch with to someone you have been meaning to for months. It will make you feel better, and maybe leave you calmer and ready to get back to the task in hand.
Hit the gym
Virtually all gyms now have shorter classes, especially designed for people’s lunch breaks. An active class will boost your energy for the afternoon ahead, while a yoga class could relieve any tension that built up over the morning.
Do the shopping
Rather than working through, seeing the same old faces of your work colleagues, and sneakily checking your work emails, how about taking a quick whizz around the local grocery or supermarket and getting your ‘weekly shop’ done? That way, you haven’t got to get stressed about which evening you can fit it in, and the change of scenery will do you good. You may even find you’re in a better frame of mind for walking the aisles at that time of day.
Go for a power walk
The benefits of walking are endless, but to name just a few it will help relieve stress, it could improve your blood pressure, reduce body fat, lower the risk of coronary heart disease and strokes and increase bone density. Also, you could burn off more than 250 calories in your lunch break! We are advised to take 10,000 steps per day, so perhaps get yourself a pedometer to find out how many you take. Walking’s a great way to get some fresh air and exercise without working up too much of a sweat – which is handy if you don’t have showers or the option to change clothes in work.
Grab a drink
Treat yourself to that cherished cuppa in your favourite coffee shop or tea bar. Let’s face it, a lot of us love the pick-up we get from a hot drink, so enjoy it. It’s true that too much can keep us artificially stimulated and awake at night, but there are positive benefits, not least that it can greatly reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, colon cancer and Parkinson’s disease. What’s more, it gives you a relaxing break from the office and fires you up for the afternoon. Take a good book or buy a magazine, this way you’ll completely switch off from work while you’re out and about.
Plan your next holiday
If you’ve had a bad morning, what could be better than planning your next trip away? You could even visit your nearest travel agent and grab a few brochures, then pore over them, dreaming about where you could go. What you find might just give you the inspiration you need to work your way towards that next payslip and next big goal.
Make time for reflection
Taking some quiet time out on your own can help reduce stress and anxiety, and helps put any problems into perspective, be they work or home-related. Rather than wandering the shops, go and visit a nearby art gallery or wander through a park or by a river. Who knows, perhaps all the morning’s worries will melt away, or you’ll think up positive solutions from afar. What’s important is that you give yourself the time to chill.