10 Things to Do on Your Lunchbreak That Aren’t Facebook or Lean Cuisine

There are so many things to do on your lunch break that are more fun and more invigorating than social media or a sad desk lunch. Click through for 10 lunchbreak ideas that will improve your whole day! >> yesandyes.org

I would love to tell you that my lunch breaks are rife with whimsy and sunlight and well-planned salads prominently featuring goat cheese.  But that’s not true.  On the rare occasion that I’m working the 9-to-5, my lunch break consists of eating a Lean Cuisine while I read  blogs.  Sexy, no?
No more!  I’m going to use that time wisely!  Let’s all use that time wisely!

10 things to do on your lunch break

Have a picnic

Do a bit of prep work the night before researching nearby parks and packing up the perfect picnic lunch (great picnic recipes here). Come noon time, hunker under a tree with your couscous salad and strawberries and watch the ducks paddle around the pond and the cute hippies play Ultimate Frisbee.

Hit up your local book store

Few things beat drinking coffee, flipping through magazines, and reading the back of self-help books, amiright?

Meet up with a friend

Make a pact that you will not talk about work, not whine about your boss, not gossip about the co-worker with questionable fashion sense.  Talk about the good things in your life, your plans for the weekend, why your cat is awesome.  You’ll go back to work feeling positive and refreshed.

Go to a beach

This is surprisingly doable in Minnesota with our 12,000 lakes.  A few times last summer, I changed into my bikini and spent 45 minutes lounging next to the water, drinking lime soda.  You’ll feel oddly unstoppable, returning to the office smelling like sunscreen with sand in your shoes.

Try a new, international restaurant

Go eat Ethiopian food with your hands!  Try some super hot, super healthy kimchi!  Check out that Mongolian barbecue place and see what all the fuss is about!  You’ll be out of the office, trying something new, developing bad breath from yummy food.

Buy a disposable camera and wander around your work neighborhood taking photos

Am I the only one who finds disposable cameras oddly charming?  Waiting to see what your pictures look like!  How adorably vintage!  And we all know that film photos really do look different than digital prints.  Spend your lunch hour stalking your work neighborhood on a one-person photo scavenger hunt.  Here are some great photo lists.

Try every restaurant within walking distance

The rules are: if you can walk there, you have to try it.  Maybe it’s a mom-n-pop Mexican place, a hippie coffee shop or a TGIFridays.  This is a fun way to explore your neighborhood, try new foods and support your local business.

Try a little office yoga

Close your office door and engage in a bit of downward dog.  You’ll feel heaps calmer and better. Then, for good measure, do nothing for two minutes.

Window shop at luxury stores

In your fanciest outfit and your nicest lipstick, spend your lunch hour fondling the purses at Coach and the shoes at Jimmy Choo.  Try things on, announce that this isn’t quite right for your ladies’ luncheon, smile charmingly at the sales girls.  Return to your real life, thankful that your priorities lies elsewhere.

Nap in your car

What?

How do you spend your lunch breaks?  Any ideas to add to the list?

P.S. How to enjoy your commute (or at least hate it less) 

photo credit: gregory bourloias // cc

40 Comments

Shayna

I LOVE this post!! Brilliant list and it has me craving a picnic right now. 🙂 My husband and I usually workout together at the local gym on our lunch break.

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ellie

I read in my car at lunch. It separates me from my email/phone and gets me moving, even if it is just to the parking lot. And bigger bonus, on sunny but cold days, my car's dark interior gives me a wonderfully warm place to hang out. Bigger bonus, i get a whole hour to read, no driving time to cut into my relaxation time.

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Anonymous

Go to the local public library! Spend an hour getting lost in the stacks, buy a coffee and curl up with a magazine, find a great movie to watch this weekend, the list goes on!

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The-Dame.com

I think its a very good idea to do nothing for a few minutes! Sort of empty your mind of work and everything and just chill, like hitting the reset button.

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margosita

Love this list. I'm moving (back) to the Twin Cities, soon. Can we meet for lunch and not talk about work, someday?

I second Anonymous's suggestion to go to the library.

I'd also recommend listening to podcasts or music while either walking or lounging on a bench.

When I lived in San Francisco I liked to go wander through grocery stores in Chinatown. I wasn't doing my normal shopping so felt no rush to do anything other than look at all the strange fruits and ask about spices or dishes. This can be be done in any grocery store, though. Wander around, imagine meals you might like to make without the pressure of actually needing to plan meals for your week.

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Catherine

To Anonymous @8:29: I am so sorry. I've been there; it's awful. Please believe that you *will* be on the other side of this, someday. Take good care of yourself… xoxo

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melle

wow… how long are your lunch breaks? LOL! I can't even cross the street, buy a sandwich, come back and still have time to sit and thoughtfully eat it.

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Johanna

"Nap in your car" isn't too far off:

I used to be a teacher and our school, in Texas, was way over air-conditioned! At lunchtime, freezing and grumpy, I would go sit in my very stuffy very hot car and listen to spring training baseball games on the radio and eat my meatloaf. It was heaven for a whole 25 minutes…

(now I'm back in grad school, so "lunch break" is a flexible term!)

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April in Autumn

I love the idea of a picnic! I even know the exact park. Now I'm plotting taking my work friends "out to eat" and throwing a surprise picnic. 🙂

I started a knitting club at work once a week (although we usually do it more) and I've also got together with coworkers to do a guitar group. I just got a new tv in my office (it's my own library!) so we're planning to watch old tv shows on Netflix at lunch time.

I'm lucky to work with a great group of people. When everyone else is busy I usually do the facebook thing, but now I'll try some of the other ideas.

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Karima

can we be coworkers? I would love to spend lunch hour learning about guitars, knitting and watching old tv shows..

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MafiosaGrrl

I like to craft on my lunch break. I have a pouch for embroidery supplies on the go.

I eat my crummy lunch and spent the rest of the time stitching away. It's nice and relaxing. Plus, it usually sparks conversation with curious onlookers- I love craft talk!

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Julie Buz.

HA! LOVE LOVE LOVE the last one! My lunch breaks are only 30 min so I think a little office yoga is the only one I can go for, sadly.

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eemusings

I only get a half hour, technically, and at max 3 times a week (can't really leave my desk on weekend shifts). I run errands, window shop, read or just wander.

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Marie

I normally sit and eat lunch with my coworkers. We generally don't talk about work, which is nice, and it's a good time to get to know each other.
I constantly suggest we have "picnics" and eat at the tables outside our building.

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Megan

I LOVE this post! I get a half hour lunch and usually I sit outside at a picnic table…today I went to this adorable coffee shop I kept walking past. I am definitely going to do the disposable camera suggestion because my office is in an adorable part of town! Thank you (:

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muchlove

great post!
I only started my new work for a few weeks, and to be honest, I haven't found a good lunch break "habit" yet. I'm not very close with my coworkers unfortunately, so most of the time I spend lunch alone, either at my desk or I take a walk to a park and read a book. I wish we were closer to shops or just a library!

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Lindsey

Go to the op-shop! All the best finds are to be discovered mid-week! The little old ladies have time to be befriended and let you in on all the secrets, like which day the display new stock. I can do about four an hour, included hiking at mad pace between each one.

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Sora

When my husband and I were still newlyweds, our offices were only a few blocks away from each other. So on my lunch break, I would pick him up and we would drive to the nearby duck pond (located at a cemetery, but otherwise beautiful) and eat sandwiches while the ducks swarmed our car in search of bread crumbs.

Those were wonderful lunches.

Now I work from home and my husband works a 30 minute drive away, so lunch together doesn't happen, and I often just heat up some soup or pasta and eat while I work. 🙁

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Tami (Teacher Goes Back to School)

Love this post!

As a teacher, I usually eat in the staff lounge and make copies. Maybe this will inspire a change of venue.

Certainly once spring break arrives, I'll have a better idea how to spend my time away from school.

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stephanie

this is an excellent list, especially since they all are completely do-able(well maybe not the beach one)! plus, it DOES get old when you waste your precious hour off everyday eating microwavables and watching seinfeld!

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Ms. Ten

Tami – I'm a teacher, too.

Teachers only get 30-45 minutes for our lunch – and our job is supposed to be so cushy!

When I was doing summer school, during my lunch I'd turn off all the lights in my classroom and turn on some jazz or other soft music. It really changed the atmosphere and allowed me to relax and recharge. Even while prepping for the next class period, just being in a quiet room listening to music was extremely helpful.

I also try to pack cold lunches like salads or a bento lunch that doesn't need to be heated up so I don't have to waste time at the microwave. One of my co-workers brought a pot pie that needed 20 minutes to heat!

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Teresa

Work through lunch, run errands, go to meetings, nap in car, and the absoute best lunch of 'em all…meet my honey @ home for a little midday luvin', now that's a good lunch hour!

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Teresa

Work through lunch, run errands, meetings, nap in car, and the absoulute best lunch hour I can think of…meet my honey at home for a little midday luvin'! Now that's a great day!!!

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Anonymous

I usually spend my lunchtime talking about nonsense to a bunch of halfwits- beam me up Scottie -sigh-

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Adina Marguerite

Just coming around to this post now! I used to take the quickest break so I could head home as soon as possible to work on my own projects – but now I take longer breaks so I can get into the things I love. A couple of times a week, I’ll head to a coffee shop for a chai and some sketching time, other days I’ll run errands, listen to an audiobook, and sometimes just take a nap in my car! I’ve also found bringing a special lunch to be key – I thrive on fancy cheese, crackers, and assorted fancy tapas style meals. They remind me of traveling – so now, I get to have that happy fantasy of being at a cafe in a European city on my lunch break!

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