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Remember the days when a lunch hour was just that – an hour for lunch? Or has it been so long that most of us have only heard of the myth taking an hour for lunch to relax and unwind? I actually had a 'Lunch' sign that I post just outside my cubicle letting anyone and everyone know that while my physical body is present, my services is not.

Although the lunch hour was originally designed for just that we spend our “lunch hour” running errands, pecking away at a computer keyboard and returning personal phone calls or emails. On those rare occasions that we do actually sit down and eat, it's often to consume whatever comfort food we can scrape together from the company vending machine, cafeteria or close by fast food.

Rather than spending the hour stressing over what you still need to accomplish by 5:00pm today, consider the following advice.

Go outside.

If you work inside a building, you likely are stuck in the same building all day long five days a week. The Lunch hour is your chance to escape. Go outside and soak in the sun, stand at the door and watch the rain fall, or just read a book in your car with the doors or windows open. Disconnect from your job responsibilities for a short while. You should make the time to step outside, even if just for only two minutes. It will recharge your mind.

Take at least five minute to daydream.

Then eat, run errands, or return to work. Daydreaming is a form of getting away from the grind of work and responsibilities – it is an escape. If you're feeling really stressed out regarding a particular project, spend your break mentally away from the world –- take mental vacation. Close your eyes and imagine yourself at your favorite weekend spot or a favorite vacation destination. The mental vacation doesn't even have to be real location. Put yourself in a world of imagination where you can fly over mountains or swim like a mermaid. Take yourself on an adventure and de-stress.

Take a 10 minute nap.

Go to your car or put a 'Lunch' sign on your chair, close your eyes and take a 10 minute nap. Make sure the lunch sign is in font 40 so that no one can miss it. Studies show that short naps during the day can help you recharge your physical and mental batteries.

Have dinner for lunch.

Pack up your leftover dinner meal into a mobile container for tomorrow's lunch. Not only will you save money but you can have a lunch meal that is homemade and more tasty than fast salty greasy food. Popping your dinner into the office microwave is a quick-and-easy meal that allows plenty of time to run errands during the rest of your lunch hour.

Get away from your desk.

No matter how rushed a project priority is, get away from your office for at least 15 minutes. Walk the hallways, go to the bathroom to freshen up, or go outside. The time away from your desk will refresh your mind and help you feel more invigorated.

Choose smarter fast food.

Choose your day snacks wisely. Bring a bottle of salad dressing to have at easy reach and buy a salad. Cut some vegetable snack size bites and store them with your favorite bottle of dressing in the office refrigerator. At fast food joints or restaurants opt for broth-based soups, fresh fruit cups, and grilled or steamed items. Healthier foods will not make you feel tired or run down.

Exercise.

If there is a gym within walking distance, consider membership and take 5 to 10 minute activity. Keep a quick change of clothing with you and at your lunch get on the stair climber for five minutes. Take a quick shower, eat a healthy meal and feel better and refreshed. If there is not a gym nearby, get some exercise doing errands. Walk to the post office instead of driving. The exercise will help refresh your mind and reduce the stress of the day.

Start a lunch exchange group.

Find a couple of other co-workers and start a lunch exchange. Once a week, you and your co-workers get together and exchange pre-packed home made lunches. Make sure to learn what your other co-workers in the group are allergic to or absolute cannot or will not eat. This is a great way to add some fun to the lunch hour and socialize with co-workers. If you and your fellow workers are on a diet this is great way to exchange tips, opinions and share recipes.



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