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10 Ways to Turn Lunchtime Into Your Power Hour

Don’t let “your time” disappear into the demands of your job

Two waiters serve two steel workers lunch on a girder high above New York City, 14th November 1930.
Two waiters serve two steel workers lunch on a girder high above New York City, 14th November 1930.,

by Kara Baskin

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You think it’s just lunch. But that magic midday hour can be so much more, if you use it to recharge, get creative or simply kick back. So resist the temptation to mindlessly munch a sandwich while scrolling emails. Pack something productive into your down time. Here are 10 ideas to get you started.

1. Stretch. Bring a mat to work, shut your door, and do some simple asanas between meetings. Yoga can lower your heart rate and blood pressure, and de-stress your brain.

2. Write a letter. Remember letters? Stash some of your favorite stationery in your desk, along with a book of stamps. Fire off a thank you note or surprise a faraway friend with a card.

3. Networkfor fun. Ask an old friend to lunch. Get out of your office and away from your screen. 

4. Sightsee. If you beat a well-worn path from desk to local salad bar, change up your route. Become a tourist on your own block—try the restaurant on the other corner, and notice the street life you usually just pass by.

See also: 6 Simple Ways to Cut Workplace Anxiety

5. Call someone. When we’re greeted by chaos at home after a long day, the last thing we want to do is make a check-in call with mom. Use your lunch break for a quick daytime catch-up session with loved ones. That way, you can relax at home later without guilt.

6. Volunteer. Sign up to distribute a meal at a local soup kitchen, or pack a bag of used clothes and drop them off at a nearby shelter.

7. Have a theme. Make Monday’s lunch “Money Monday,” when you hop online to pay your credit card bills. On “Wild Wednesday,” break out of your culinary comfort zone and try a new food.

8. Praise someone. Friend got a new job? Take time to shoot her a note of congratulations (see tip number 2). Read an article that you absolutely loved? Drop a line to the author. The point here is to emerge from the workday bubble and appreciate the big world beyond your office walls.

See also: Want Better Ideas? Take a Walk

9. Walk. Just 15 minutes of fresh air will recharge your heart and your brain.

10. Don’t just eat, dine. We’re talking Mad Men style. Every so often, slip away to a proper lunch. Sit down. Order a full meal. It’s a healthy reminder that your time should be your own.

Photo credit: Keystone/Getty