Now, don’t get me wrong. If I was telling people to cut out eating yesterday’s leftovers and scrolling through Instagram, I’d be the biggest hypocrite going. We’re all guilty of spending our lunchtime glued to our phone screens, and while that’s okay–hell, we need some interaction if we’re still working from home–it’s always beneficial to mix up how you spend your free time. So, on your lunch hour, if you’re feeling like a short break from your phone after spending the morning trawling through emails, here’s a few mood-boosting ideas.
Things to do on your lunch break
Go for a walk
However many times you’ve heard this, it doesn’t make it any less true. Going for a walk in the sunshine (if you’re lucky) more often than not gives you a chance to clear your mind ahead of the rest of the day and feel smug about getting some exercise. It counts, alright? Plus, you can just bring that lunch of leftovers with you to eat on a park bench among nature. Win-win.
Pick up a treat at an outdoor market
Most Londoners are likely wise to the fact that part of the capital’s brilliance is its sheer breadth of outdoor markets to choose from. Whether you’re at the office or working from home, you’re never too far from some outdoor stands. So, whether it’s street food from Exmouth Market or some flowers to brighten up your home from Colombia Road, it’s time to treat yourself to a gift, however big or small.
Get really into yoga
Even if its just a 10-minute yoga workout, you’ll undoubtedly feel some benefit. For those who work from home, sitting in the same position morning prrrooobabbly isn’t doing your back any favours, so crank out a yoga app and perform some relaxing stretches as an afternoon release. We all need some zen energy as we head into the second half of the day. Here’s some ideas for apps if you’re just starting out.
Watch an episode of your favourite show
Lockdown has taught us to appreciate the little things, which often means literally having a cuppa and whacking on Netflix for a bit of downtime. Over your lunch hour, there’s no reason not to just curl up in a ball, or stick those headphones in if you’re on the go, and put an episode of your favourite show on the screen.
Play a game with your housemates/family/partner/colleagues at the office
There’s nothing quite like the thrill at trouncing your dad at Scrabble, narrowly outfoxing your pals at Cluedo or emerging triumphant in a quick round of cards. If you can all coordinate your lunch breaks together, you’ll find there’s ample time to fit in a game or two for some light relief and laughs before heading back to the grind.
Alternatively, have a solo game of solitaire or clock patience
If you live alone, or can’t get anyone to join you, then you can still enjoy a bit of time out with the deck of cards. However, hard they may be to win, there’s always fun and satisfaction a round of clock patience/solitaire/your choice of solo card game. It’ll clear the meetings and emails out of your mind and refresh your brain before smashing through the rest of the day.
Read a few chapters of a book
After spending all morning glued to a screen, there’s not many better ways to spend lunch than escaping into the pages of your newest paperback. Whether you’re entering Highsmith’s world of deviance; Fitzgerald’s roaring twenties; Orwell’s dystopian warnings; or Austen’s class critique–pondering over page-turning literature is one of the more rewarding lunchtime activities. Plus, if you pair a book with a sunny local park, you’re winning hard.
Apps like Headspace and Calm are growing in popularity due to the immense help they give to many as they tackle their way through tough working weeks. Taking the time out to meditate for 15 minutes is enough for many to feel the benefits for the rest of the day.
For a lot of us, this may defeat the point of the “break” in lunch break, which is totally fair enough. But for many, going for a run or taking on the exercise bike is an ideal way to shake anxious thoughts about work and life activities. Multiple studies have shown that regular physical exercise can increase our self-esteem, energy and mental alertness while helping to reduce stress and anxiety.
Cook your favourite meal
Now, while you may have served yourself a banging dish last night – in which case, ignore the advice about leftovers – cooking at lunch could give you that boost through the day. If you’re craving a delightful burger and chips combo that no one but you knows how to get right, why wait until the evening? The endorphins from tucking into the meal you crafted yourself are certain to mean you can achieve anything in the afternoon.
Or, just order your favourite takeaway
If like myself, you’re a pretty useless cook – or you’re just short on time – get it delivered! It should provide the same results as the above entry, plus you won’t really have to lift a finger. Come to think of it, it’s been a while since I’ve treated myself to a lunchtime Nando’s.
Take a nap
Look, I won’t beat around the bush. It’s almost summer and it’s turning into beer garden season, so you might have been feeling a little worse for wear. After braving the winter months for that long, I think most of us have been there during the past month or so. A cheeky lunchtime nap might help cure some of that tiredness after struggling through the morning, and could hopefully mean a less stressful afternoon before flopping back into bed!
Visit an art gallery or museum
We’re pretty blessed to be able to visit some of the best cultural attractions in London. If you’re lucky enough to live or work near one of your favourites, this could mark the perfect lunchtime escape. Because who wouldn’t want to break up their day gazing at these glorious sights?
Enjoy a coffee from one of your favourite London coffee shops
When in doubt, coffee. We now have the pleasure of being able to sit and have our caffeine fix once more, which works wonders on a sunny day. Or, you can grab one to go and combine it with another idea from this list (perhaps not the nap!). Here’s some of London’s best coffee shops if you’re looking for a new go-to spot for a flat white.
Plan your weekend/holidays
You may love your job, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get excited about letting off steam during your precious time off. In fact, taking a much-needed break is incredibly important to keep our stress and burnout levels at a minimum. Chat to your pals during lunch to sort out that weekend bottomless brunch or a summer staycation. The excitement of getting everything booked up will carry you through the remainder of a gruelling week.