The next in my series on boosting hygge throughout your day. This time: lunch.
For many people, lunch is a quick affair snatched at the desk or eaten at home while you multi-task watching the news, reading the latest website or scrolling through social media. I have to admit to being guilty as charged myself: on days when I’m rushing or just too stressed to think I have time, grabbing, gulping and going seems a sensible option.
And yet, it’s on those very days that I could do with a pause, a break and a chance to catch up with myself. Studies show that taking a 15 to 20 minute break away from work can boost your productivity, provide a space to think and give you a chance to fit in some gentle exercise. And, of course, give you a chance to feel some hygge.
Here, then, are my simplest ideas to boost the hygge at lunchtime. Some are good to do at home, some in the office. Some need company, others are so good to do alone. I’m not saying do them all everyday…. I’m realistic enough to know that life doesn’t give you full hours off for lunch!…. but incorporate a few into your routine and see how much happier they make you feel.
- Make lunch at home an occasion. If you’re eating alone or with friends, set the table, use the good cloth, fill a jug with water and ice. Even a humble sandwich looks better with a little salad garnish and a small pile of crisps. You’re after the full cafe experience in the house. And don’t wait for a reason: pick a Tuesday, or just a day when you know you have a space in time available. Invite a couple of friends, and take the time to laugh. I love having something alcohol-free but fizzy, like elderflower presse, to drink. I also love, on a glorious summer day, setting the meal out under my parasol and making the most of the good weather!
- Move away from the desk to eat. This is an everyday request. If you eat your sandwich or salad stooped over your desk, you are more likely to keep working, reading those emails, scrolling the newsfeed. Find a space, in the office or home, and move away to eat. In bad weather, this could be as close as the staffroom, but when the weather is good why not take your space outside? Any open space with seating could be good, or even better find a green space, or at the very least a space with flowers. Having something green to look at is relaxing. Go alone, or take a friend.
- Take 20 minutes to read for pleasure. I never travel anywhere without my Kindle, but I used to take my book everywhere and loved to grab even just 10 minutes to read a little bit. If you lunch alone most of the time, it’s quite possible to get an extra 2 to 3 hours of reading done a week. Reading is a wonderful way to escape, and relaxes the whole body as well. Research discovered that reading for only 6 minutes can reduce stress levels by 68%. Pick your book well, though. An exciting or tense thriller won’t work as well as a romance or gentle biography. On my Kindle to read this year are The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman, The Little Cafe in Copenhagen by Julie Caplin and Invisible Women by Sarah Long. Add to that a wish to read the Outlander series, and I need that extra 2 to 3 hours of reading a week, really, don’t I? I enjoy sitting at a cafe table, sipping iced tea and reading, it makes me feel elegant and cosmopolitan.
- Take 20 minutes to do something else. If reading’s not your thing, then take that 20 minutes to do something else relaxing: you could go for a walk, do some yoga, meditate, write or anything not work related that will lower your blood pressure and make you feel calm. A small craft project, such as crochet or embroidery, works as well. It should be something that you can pick up and put down easily: anything complicated or requiring 10 minutes to work out where you were up to last won’t do!
- Eat food that makes you happy. It’s easy to fall into the supermarket meal deal rut when you have to have a quick lunch everyday. Try playing with your food, incorporating the foodstuff that has been shown to make you happier. Eat fresh salad, always have a piece of fresh fruit, boost your happiness with seeds or a handful of nuts. I like a piece of dark chocolate to nibble at slowly at the end of a good lunch and I love love love a glass of cool, sparkling water to add fizz to my life.
- Spend some time with friends. Friends always help to make everything more hyggely, so spend time during the week or at weekends enjoying lunch with them. Two or three close friends are better than a big group, and a little alcohol (or cheat’s alcohol) will make the afternoon last longer.
Lunch doesn’t have to be a rushed affair. Even just doing one of these ideas once a week will boost your happiness, especially if you can make a regular date of it. As a company, we eat lunch out every Friday and it really does give us a break from the office and time to relax. I miss it when I don’t get to go!
Hygge and happiness go so well together. If you’d like to read about the small things that have helped me to be happier, my new book is available from Amazon. Happier is all about how to use the small details in life to make you happier. You can get it at Amazon.
I also think the principles of enjoying life and making the most of small details is an important part of How to Hygge Your Summer , my second book which contains my advice on having a hyggely time at home and outside, and which is also available in ebook and paperback version. You can find details about all my books, and how to connect with me on social media on the Start Here page of my blog.
And, for more background reading on why lunchtime is so important, here are some webpages I read while writing this post: