4 JANUARY, 2019


What do you do at lunch time? Do you sit at your desk to eat, or go outside for some fresh air? Do you read a book or magazine? Some people think lunch is the perfect time to do something completely different. It matters when an hour's lunch break adds up to 5 hours a week, 20 hours a month, 240 hours a year – a full ten 24-hour days every 12 months. If you take a half hour break at lunchtime it also adds up: 2.5 hours a week, 10 hours a month, 120 hours over 12 months, 5 full 24-hour days every year.

That's a lot of time to use. And it's important to actually take your lunch break rather than working through it. In fact, as the author of Gone for Lunch: 52 Things to do in Your Lunch Break, Laura Archer, discovered, when you reclaim your lunch breaks and use them as 'me time', you might just be happier at work, more energetic, and feel a lot more job satisfaction.


One of the emerging problems in the world of work is Presenteeism, where people stay at their desks without a break all day, and carry on working into the evenings. Businesses that encourage presenteeism value long hours because they see them as a sign of dedication and hard work. In fact it makes more business sense to value creativity and good time management, making your employees leave on time unless there's an emergency to deal with.

People who come into work early and stay late are often viewed as harder workers, people who take their jobs more seriously than those who arrive and leave on time. But in fact people who regularly work all hours are exhausted. Their minds get stale and tired. When you're tired and fed up you miss opportunities, fail to spot issues before they become problems, find it hard to manage your own emotions, and can even start to feel resentful about having to work late every night for no real reason. And that's very bad for business.


These days stress levels and anxiety at work are often high. To be successful - and to stay that way - it's more important than ever to get your work-life balance right. And that means taking back your lunch break and using it in positive ways to make you feel good. When you love your lunchtimes you feel refreshed and lively, more committed to your work. You have lots of good ideas, you spot innovative ways of doing things better, you do your work faster and more efficiently. Here are ten things to do at lunchtime that'll make you feel great.


Feed your brain

If you are stuck in an office, indoors all day, fresh air works wonders for your state of mind. But there's no need to go for a run. Walking is just as good. A simple brisk walk before or after you eat will get your blood circulating, work your muscles, and feed your fresh air-starved brain.

Spend time with trees

Go spend some time with trees. Trees give off amazing chemicals that we can't smell, but they make humans feel incredibly good. Trees are good for us. Eat lunch under a tree and you'll return to work feeling much calmer, happier and healthier.


Learn a new language

Learn a new language. Science says bi-lingual people are have longer attention spans, can multi-task better, are less likely to suffer a stroke or dementia, and are even more open-minded, all skills that'll help you navigate life and work better.

Enjoy beauty

Visit a beautiful building, park or garden. Is there an ancient church or temple near you, or even a brand new building with a roof garden or atrium you can enjoy? There's something about beauty, whether it's natural or man-made, that always makes us feel good.


Read! Reading takes you out of yourself, makes you see life in different ways, informs you and inspires you. It might be Vogue magazine, a best-selling novel, a biography of someone amazing or a history book. When you get lost in literature you feel so much better when you get back to work than you did when - hungry and tired - you left the building for lunch.

Unplug from technology

Unplug from technology...completely! You know how your anxiety can spike when you hear that 'ping' signaling a message, or feel your phone vibrate with a notification? Give yourself a break from the virtual world and switch your phone off for lunchtime. There's no need to respond to each situation immediately. It’s non-stop, it's exhausting, and it distracts you from your precious one hour lunch break.

Play with cats

Play with cats. The best thing about a cat is they offer companionship without the fear of judgment. Cats feel lovely and soft and warm. They purr, which makes us feel relaxed, and because you're focusing on someone else, not just yourself, it helps you give work problems the right perspective. Why not visit your nearest cat café with your colleagues and chill out with some furry friends?

Write to a friend

Write to a friend. It's easy to send a quick email or 'like' someone's social media status. But there's nothing quite so lovely as getting a real letter through the post, something different from the usual bills. Because doing good makes you feel good, you'll feel really sparkly and lively afterwards.


Tick things off your shopping list. It's horrible feeling that you don't have time to get all those essentials done. Do your shopping into your lunch break and you'll feel much more relaxed and happy in the afternoon.

Eat healthty

Eat something healthy. Good food makes our bodies feel great, stodgy processed foods can make us feel sluggish, tired and unhealthy. Fruit and vegetables make an excellent lunch or snack and leave you feeling like you've treated your body to proper nutrition.


Our suite of employee benefits products and services goes a long way towards creating a happy, satisfied workforce. If you'd like to discuss employee benefits, get in touch with the team

Posted 4 January 2019 Reading times 7 mins

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