Are you spending your mornings rushing around, answering emails, yet secretly clock-watching for lunchtime only, to gnaw through your meal sat at your desk, reading more emails?

Bupa found that many UK organisations are not enabling staff to take their legally required minimum break. The study of 2,000 full-time workers found that almost two thirds (64 percent) claim they are not always able to take their legally required 20-minute break when working six hours or more. Less than a third (29 percent) of employees are taking a full hour for lunch every day and worryingly, over a quarter (28 percent) of workers never take a breather of any kind during their working day.

lunchThose who do take a lunch break are often not taking a genuine break from work and the research found that almost half of employees rarely leave the workplace, almost a third admit they eat their lunch at their desk, two in five respond to work calls or emails, and almost half rarely do anything relaxing or rejuvenating.

It’s time to reclaim our lunch breaks and make the most of that time where we are legally required to stop looking at our screens, eat some delicious food and not think about the trials and tribulations of that working day.

Go outside

We all know walking around in the fresh air makes us feel better, but actually doing it is another thing. Give yourself an errand to run each lunchtime, whether that is picking up dry cleaning or fetching a banana. The fresh air (be it rain or shine) will circulate oxygen around your body, get you moving and completely refuel you for the rest of the day.

Take Advantage of the Free

Go to the library – remember those? Find a book and have a read. Explore free museums, lap up culture or just enjoy a spot of window shopping (top tip – don’t take your card with you otherwise your lunchtimes may make you poor!).

Learn Something

Download some amazing apps and learn a language on your lunchtime. BBC Languages have comprehensive online language lessons which will turn you into a sparkling conversationalist. Or listen to these podcasts on Stuff You Should Know which covers everything!

Keep Fit

Find a lunchtime session at your gym and head down for some Body Blast or Balance, or just chuck your headphones on and run around the nearby parks for 30 minutes. Oxygen and all those happy hormones will mean you’ll be far more productive back in the office – just make sure you have a delicious lunch ready so you don’t hit a post-workout slump!

Mindful Eating

ThinkstockPhotos-481266839-700x405Currently a big thing at the moment – taking time to actually focus on your meal and your food rather than watching tv, playing on your phone or updating your Facebook status. The leap in technology and the acceptance of social media means we get to see more and more of eachothers lives, which quite frankly is great for voyeurs, not so great for your stomach. Put the phone down and actually take time to taste your food in the moment.

Pamper yourself

Everyone needs a little ‘me’ time, so schedule in a brow or eyelash tint or try a mini express pedicure or manicure; perfect while your typing your emails in the afternoon to admire your beautiful nails.

Explore your city

There is so much to see and do in Bristol that you’ll be spoilt for choice. Head a little further afield and try a new deli, see a new part of town and head off the beaten track to find some real gems.

Meet Friends

What better way to spend your lunch break but catching up with your friends, and no we don’t mean on their social media sites. Taking time to speak with friends and family face-to-face can completely make your day perfect and means you’re making the most of your time.

Take 5

Sometimes we need to just take a few minutes of our day and switch off. Close our eyes, take a few deep breaths and zone out; often if we are half way through a work day we need a little help however with finding Zen. Luckily there are some fabulous free websites to log into and log out of everyday life. Try Mindking.co.uk to download a free, four-minute guided relaxation for your mp3 to help regulate breathing and reduce tension. Or visit calm.com for a 2, 5, 10 or more minute guided and non-guided meditations with fascinating background noises to help you zone out.

Finding it difficult to make the time for lunch? Once a week, schedule your lunch hour as if it is a meeting. Block the time out in your diary or calendar and commit to this as if you were meeting someone important. Then do this twice a week, three times, until you are doing this everyday.