Take inspiration from these out of office and desk-based activities to take part in Stylist’s Reclaim Your Lunch Break campaign.
COOK UP A NEW SKILL, LONDON
Instead of carting in leftover stir-fry in a bit of old Tupperware, why not cook your lunch (and eat it) under expert tutelage instead? The Cook, Eat, Run sessions at L’atelier des Chefs cookery school are thought to be the world’s only 30-minute cooking classes that take place between 12 and 2pm. You’ll find expert chefs on hand to help you create delicious lunches from chicken stew to handmade pasta.
The details: £15; L’ateliers des Chefs; 19 Wigmore Street, W1U; ateliersdeschefs.co.uk
We’re not talking Hamlet-length here, obviously, but the St Bride Foundation’s Lunchbox Theatre provides a welcome escape from office dramas (their joke) with plays that last 45 minutes. The 2015 programme is still to be confirmed but most recently on show was Tinderella, a pantomime for the new age (surely we don’t need to explain the plotline). Tickets can be bought on the door and performances start at 1pm.
The details: £7; St Bride Foundation, Fleet Street, EC4Y; sbf.org.uk
START A KNITTING CLUB, NATIONWIDE
ade and Aurelie, founders of Wool and The Gang, are two women responsible for making knitting trendy around the world. As well as championing a more sustainable way to produce fashion, they made knitting sexy, spreading their passion through 'knit parties' where you and your friends (or colleagues) can learn to create snoods or other accessories. Enter to win a free knitting party kit via the link below.
The details: Find out more information and enter the competition at woolandthegang.com
WARM UP, CHILL OUT, LIVERPOOL
The concentration it takes to maintain a warrior pose in 40°C heat should be enough to flush out any lingering work issues from your mind. The founders behind Liverpool’s Yoga Hub know that, precisely why they offer Express Hot Yoga sessions every lunch time for the stressedout employees of the city’s business district. Designed to keep you energised and motivated for the rest of the day, it’s a cardio and mental workout, all in 45/60 minutes depending on the timetable.
The details: £9; Liverpool Yoga Hub, 21 Old Hall Street, L3; yogahubliverpool.co.uk
LET THE MUSIC PLAY, LONDON
If you need a little high-brow entertainment to take you out of that Monday slump, BBC Radio 3’s lunchtime concerts at Wigmore Hall from 1pm should perk you up. Established and up-and-coming musicians perform classical pieces from Bach to Tchaikovsky for an hour. Best of all, research suggests that listening to classical music boosts creativity and imagination, so your afternoon will be all the more productive for it.
The details: £13; 36 Wigmore Street, W1U; wigmore-hall.org.uk
Bend your brain around this series of free lunchtime lectures run by the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Open Studies. Presented by leading academics and researchers, past subjects include hallucination and perception, voluntary euthanasia and snails (of course). The 50-minute Friday classes start at 12:10pm and are open to all. Bring a notebook.
The details: Free; University of Glasgow, University Avenue, G12; gla.ac.uk/services/centreforopenstudies
NETWORK OVER FOOD, NATIONWIDE
Let’s face it; a ‘networking’ lunch might be some people’s idea of a nightmare. But actually, for those working from home or anyone who wants to break into a new industry, they can be invaluable. Websites such as getlunched. com and letslunch.com allow you to create a profile and connect with people who might be able to help you with that big idea or simply share similar interests. You can both ‘rank’ each other for helpfulness after and keep in touch if you’ve made a good business connection.
The details: getlunched.com; letslunch.com
FOCUS YOUR MIND, BIRMINGHAM
Whether it’s your frosty boss or that deadline keeping you up at night, recent studies carried out by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore have shown that meditation is an effective method for coping with stress and anxiety in the workplace. So if you’re faced with a particularly taxing few weeks, or you simply feel in need of a spot of relaxation, try spending a couple of lunch breaks a week clearing your mind at these 1pm sessions.
The details: £4; Priory Rooms, Quaker Meeting House, 40 Bull Street, B4; meditateinbirmingham.org
(London) For those whose ‘enthusiastic’ attempts at doodling look more like childish stick figures than discernible art, these drop-in lunchtime life drawing classes could be beneficial. Taking place every Friday from 11am-1pm, would-be artists can pop in for as long as they like (models pose from 30 seconds to 50 minutes) and you’ll get general tutoring on your efforts.
The details: £10; Artizan Street Library, Liverpool St, E1; londondrawing.com
BOOST YOUR KNOWLEDGE, NATIONWIDE
The Stuff You Should Know podcast covers everything from crop circles to collective hysteria and great white sharks. So it’s 40 minutes well spent boosting your pub quiz credentials. Download and listen directly from iTunes (and maybe take a walk as you do), or check the website below for an archive of past episodes. Prepare to be addicted.
The details: Free; stuffyoushouldknow.com/podcasts
FOLLOW AN AUDIO TOUR, LONDON
(London) Ever fancied seeing London as Charles Dickens did? Or uncovering the capital’s greatest, and most grisly, ghost stories? Download a guided audio tour (complete with map) from The Guardian’s brilliant series of podcasts and you’ll get firmly beneath the surface of the capital (and clock up some lunch-break exercise, too). Follow Oliver Twist’s walking route from The Angel Islington to the courthouse of Mr Fang, or discover the poetry and literature inspired by Kensington Gardens.
The details: Free; theguardian.com/travel/series/london-walks
VISIT FOODIE HEAVEN, LONDON
Whether you’re on a health kick or eating your way through winter, Sourced Market’s new Retox vs Detox pop-up has something for you. Feast on gourmet food, attend a lunchtime motivational workshop to help you stick to your resolutions or sample artisan coffee with Mission Coffee Works.
The details: Sourced Market Retox vs Detox Pop-Up; until 26 March; Exit 3, Old Street Underground Station, EC1Y; sourcedmarket.com
If you’ve been contemplating a stress-busting meditation session, you’re not alone. Google Trends reports rocketing numbers of people researching mindfulness online. Try a relaxing half-hour session before enjoying a wholesome vegetarian lunch in the cafe.
The details: Lunchtime Meditation; 12.30- 1pm; Wednesdays and Fridays; £2; Bodhisattva Buddhist Centre, Lansdowne Road, Hove, BN3; meditateinbrighton.com
LISTEN TO LIVE CLASSICAL MUSIC, EDINBURGH
Listening to classical music has been shown to lower stress levels, enhance memory and even boost creativity, so you’d be practically doing your boss a favour by enjoying a live performance at the beautiful Reid Concert Hall. Choose from string quartets, piano duets or even the occasional organ recital.
The details: Lunchtime Concerts at Reid School of Music; 1.10pm; Tuesdays and Fridays; free; Reid Concert Hall, Bristo Square, EH8, eca.ed.ac.uk/reid-school-of-music
RE-AWAKE YOUR BODY, LONDON
Jasmine's Stretch & The City yoga classes around the capital are all about bringing heat, strength and flexibility into the body, which can often feel rigid and lifeless after hours of sitting in front of a desk. Her Yoga Lunch club makes it easy to squeeze in a session midday, no matter whether you're a yoga pro or you've never stepped foot on a mat.
The details: from £10, find out more details at stretchandthecity.co.uk
GO SEE A MODERN MASTERPIECE
The Guy Bourdain: Image Maker exhibition is UK’s largest ever exhibition of the influential and enigmatic fashion photographer Guy Bourdin, featuring over 100 works and previously unseen material from the photographer’s estate, from 1955 to 1987.
The details: £9, Somerset House, Strand, WC2R 1LA, somersethouse.org.uk
VISIT CHARLES DICKENS' HOME
Packed with fascinating material relating to the great novelist, but small enough to consume in an hour, The Charles Dickens museum is perfect for lunchtime perusing.
The details: £8, 48 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LX, dickensmuseum.com
STRENGTHEN YOUR CORE WITH PILATES, LONDON
If you're bursting with energy when 1pm hits, why not try TenPilates, an innovative, intense and highly effective full-body workout that will tone your muscles, fast. Classes for all different levels are hosted around the city from early until late, across seven days a week and you can book online for whenever suits you best.
The details: view locations and timings at tenpilates.com
HAVE FUN WHILE EXERCISING, LONDON
BoomCycle is a high energy, bike-based, music-focussed fitness experience to get the most out of your lunch hour. It's the funnest way to work out.
The details: view locations and prices at boomcycle.co.uk
Want to be warmer and calmer? Get a meditation fix as well as some new woollens via knitting. Research suggests that the craft’s rhythmic repetitive movements pull your mind into the present moment, stopping you from stressing about tomorrow’s big meeting.
The details: Instructables.com has a mix of pictures, tips and short videos that will take you from casting on to binding off in no time. Use wooden needles to minimise the clack-clack sound that will annoy your desk buddy.
According to LinkedIn, 20 of the 25 most in-demand skills that got people hired in 2014 were tech-related, so even if you don’t have a burning ambition to launch the next Facebook or Airbnb, knowing how to create a website is money in the career bank.
The details: Code Academy (codeacademy.com) has a free online guide to setting up a website – one of their former students’ creations, Outgrow.me, was included in Time’s 50 Best Websites 2013 so you’re in good hands. As well as step-by-step tutelage on structuring a page with HTML, there’s a guide to the software you’ll need to turn your website into an empire.
SOLVE A CROSSWORD PUZZLE IN SPANISH
If 2015 is the year that you’re finally going to take that trip of a lifetime, make sure you don’t get caught short in the Bolivian countryside with no way of asking ‘where is the bathroom?’.
The details: BBC Languages (bbc.co.uk/languages) has comprehensive online language lessons which will turn you from GCSE-level phrase-fumbler into a sparkling conversationalist. As well as the usual learning tools such as printable phrase lists, you can do crosswords in Spanish or watch the news in Arabic.
Whether you want a better insight into what makes your colleagues tick or you’ve always regretted not taking your psychology A-level further, stretch your brain muscles while devouring your Pret baguette with an online course.
The details: Alison.com offers over 600 courses – the psychology studies take approximately 10-15 hours and if you pass the assessments you will be awarded a recognised diploma. Revision schedules at the ready.