It’s a busy world, which too often becomes an excuse for treating ourselves poorly, speeding through life without fully partaking of those times that don’t belong to the company, to work or whatever it is that seems so pressing. We all know that we get burnt out and that humans can’t survive on labor alone, but sometimes we need reminding.
Lunch seems to be one of those optimal times. Nearly all of us eat it, as we should. Typically, there is a specific hour or half-hour set aside in which this culinary event occurs daily, a period in which there are precious minutes surrounding the moments before and after that sandwich or container of cold pasta gets consumed.
It is in these waning seconds that we can find solace, a purpose beyond our job or commitments, that valuable thing — the good life — for which we are working so hard to obtain. Lunch doesn’t have to be a few dire gulps and back to the grindstone. It can be amazing if we just allow it to be.
1. Technology Free Time
An amazing lunch means putting away the phone, the iPad, whatever it is that has us staring down at our hands instead out at the world. Nothing amazing ever happens on Facebook or whatever feed of choice distracts us during our free time. This isn’t a condemnation of technology or instant messaging. Rather, we are working to recognize what is contemporarily mundane, what it is that impedes us from appreciating a moment. However convenient phones and Wi-Fi have made our lives, they also detract from it quite a lot. Leave the handheld time vacuum in the desk drawer. Read One Green Planet on the company’s time.
2. A Quiet Moment Before We Proceed
Oddly enough, this is one of the most difficult things in the modern world to do. We are so accustomed to moving quickly, jumping from task to task without so much as acknowledgement of the moments when our time belongs to us. But stopping for just a few seconds, maybe even a minute or two, simply sitting, breathing, counting to twenty or whatever it is that makes the hours leading up to lunch rumble to a halt and put the hours that follow it on hold. Not rushing into the lunch hour means we won’t be rushing through it.
3. Feed Yourself Well
Sometimes nothing beats a sandwich and a bag of chips, so this isn’t to say cut those off the lunch menu. But, there is more to lunch, or at least there can be. Sandwiches can be stuffed with amazing ingredients, avocados or alfalfa sprouts, and bags of chips can be a new adventure into curious root vegetables: yucca, beets, cassava … Get unusual, stimulating with it. Also, branch out. Be sure to make some special lunches during the week, a thermos full of homemade soup with a new bread recipe, a container of a weekly spin on hummus or an exploration of seasonal fruits.
4. Go Outside, At Least Away
For those with office jobs, it’s a good idea to go outside, whether it’s a frigid walk to a nearby café or sitting in a park a couple of blocks away. Pulling a lunch box out at the desk makes lunch just feel like more work. Do it somewhere else, even if that somewhere else is a quiet stairwell where no one can ask for anything, or it could be a favorite coffee shop. Lunch al fresco is refreshing (and provides a little dose of vitamin D), especially with nice weather, but even in crappy weather, getting beyond four walls frees the spirit.
5. Do Dessert Now Rather Than Later
For whatever reason, our tendency is to make a bigger deal out of dinner than breakfast or lunch, but this makes little sense. Dessert, specifically. Having something indulgent and sweet right at the end of the day then going to bed seems foolish when we could have it midday, lift our spirits and continue moving, using that burst of energy the extra calories provide. Anytime dessert happens is an amazing time, so why waste it on when the labors of the day are done. Prepare a new dessert recipe every Sunday to brighten up weekday lunches.
6. A Perfect Time for Someone Special
Try to go out of the way, once a week maybe, to have lunch with someone: a partner, an old friend, a new friend, someone from the office. Sharing a meal makes for an occasion and gives good reason to look forward to not just a break but also a moment to connect with another person. And, even if they don’t know about the other six rituals that are now making lunches awesome, that’s no reason not to continue doing them. It just might help someone else discover the path to plant-based lunch breaks.
7. Finish with a Cup of Something
Let it be a relaxing cup of tea or stimulating coffee, but take the time to finish off lunch with a five minutes of just sitting and sipping. Or, if that doesn’t sound good, have a refreshing glass of lemonade, even better water with a lemon and mint. Take in the scenery. Don’t rush it. Work will be there soon enough. This is a time to drink something, nothing more, so make it special, a beverage that strikes a tone or aids digestion or whatever effect that’ll make going into the afternoon feel awesome, lunch a success.
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