It’s all too easy to stay at your desk. But stepping away to exercise, clear out your junk drawer, watch the Sopranos – or have sex – could completely re-energise your da If you are lucky enough to have a job, and have been working from home for the past six months, you may have forgotten that you still have a lunch break: time that belongs to you, to do with what you will. Stepping away from your desk or workspace to do something different is an important part of claiming that time. But what should you do? Here are 15 suggestions to help re-energise your days.
Being separated from colleagues has stripped us of a lot of routine human interaction. Your lunch hour is often a convenient time to reconnect with old friends, says Clare Evans, a time management coach. “Often, we’re too busy to make the time in the evening, but a quick catch-up can get you back in touch and talking,” she says. Otherwise, you could challenge yourself to speak to a stranger while you are in a shop or a cafe. “Just have a chat as you grab your lunch, even if it’s the classic British opening gambit of discussing the weather,” says Evans.
Visit your favourite tree
Don’t pretend you don’t have one. The key is to go outside, away from your computer screen, and if you combine it with exercise, so much the better. Susan Saunders, the author of The Age-Well Plan, says: “Seeing a tree combines so many of the habits that contribute to longevity: being outdoors in daylight, vital to keep our circadian clocks ticking accurately; exercise from walking; a chance to savour the moment. And even one lonely tree provides us with a little green space.”
You already know you should exercise, but it is especially important now that a lot of incidental activity has been stripped from our daily routines. Your lunch break is a chance to make it a daily practice: even minutes will make a difference over time, and it does not have to be a chore. Rachel Conlisk, an instructor with the Birmingham-based organisation Creative Active Lives, says a lunchtime spent Hula-hooping to music is the highlight of her day. “It’s brilliant exercise and always cheers me up and de-stresses me. I’m sure it’s the only thing keeping me sane.”
Tackle the junk drawer
Natalie Ward, the founder of a maternity sportswear brand, says she was inspired by the Netflix reality show Get Organised With The Home Edit to begin sorting out her house in her lunch breaks. “I started with the kitchen and am working my way around the house: cupboards, drawers, wardrobes. It’s so therapeutic.” You might even be able to fit in a run to the charity shop.
Watch that prestige TV series
Evans says a half-hour episode of TV is the ideal length of time for a restorative break from work. “Just don’t get tempted to binge watch,” she says. By pacing yourself with a series, allowing anticipation to build for the next day’s instalment, you might enjoy it more. At a rate of one episode every weekday, you would finish The Sopranos in about four months. (For a break from screens, you could instead read a book. At five hours a week, you would finish War and Peace in two months.)