WHAT do you usually do during lunch hour? I’ll tell you what I do. Ninety-per cent of the time, I either eat lunch in front of the computer, scrolling through mundane webpages trying to do some work, or I would be engaged in idle chatter with my colleagues at the office pantry. Very rarely do I optimise it to do anything else at all.

But the thing about lunch hour is that it is actually a 60-minute free pass for complete self-indulgence. Think about it. Your company is practically asking you to take a break. You’re at the office, no kids are begging for your attention and no house chores are within reach.

So technically, assuming one lunch hour for 200 days of the year, you’ve got 200 hours of free time to unwind, get out of that rut of sitting in an office like a vegetable and rejuvenate by doing something for yourself. I recently came across an interesting book called Gone For Lunch: 52 Things To Do In Your Lunch Break.

In summary, it lists things that you can do within that timeframe that does not include eating in front of a computer or gossiping the hour away at the pantry. No, it turns out that there are so many other fun things you can do instead!


There are are many exciting things one can do during lunch break!

STEP OUT OF THE RUT
The list of things to do in the book are generally segregated into two categories: things to do indoors and outdoors. Admittedly, the outdoors section is a bit tricky. Malaysia’s humidity is off the charts, and I didn’t like the idea of returning to the office looking like someone just barbecued me.

I started off by visiting the local art gallery, as suggested by the book. There is an art gallery in Suria KLCC, and in all my years of working in the area, I had probably only visited the place once. The exhibition is free and it changes from time to time. I spent a good 20 minutes there after grabbing a quick meal. It made me feel posh, although I still don’t get how people look at splashes of paint and feel the artist’s emotional pain, so to speak.

Instead of ‘tapau’-ing lunch, the book suggested trying out a new cafe or restaurant. Being in KL, there is always a new eatery popping up here and there, and I decided to try a random new sandwich place. The sandwich was terrible, but hey, at least now I know.

Other suggestions that didn’t require me to leave the office included listening to a full new album of a favourite band (when have you ever actually listened to a whole album properly before? Now is the chance!), learning a new language (I tried French. I can now order a croissant in French, not that anyone here would care), doing desk yoga (my colleague found this strange), or reading a book.

Strangely enough, these allowed my mind to wander off for a while, and I resumed work feeling more refreshed.


Art galleries are a great way of discovering local talent.

But there were other suggestions that didn’t really work for me. These included knitting a scarf (I am not 74), listening to an entire opera (and I realised I’m not so posh after all), taking photographs (which turned into a bunch of useless selfies), going for a run (never again. It’s an oven out there at midday!) or taking a power nap (that made me really lethargic afterwards).

AN HOUR OF MENTAL HEALTH INVESTMENT
In this fast-paced world where most of us are struggling to juggle more hats than one, our mental health can sometimes be neglected. Most of us are office-based, which basically means we spend most of our lifetimes slouching in front of a screen or constrained in a space of the same routines over and over again.

Trying out other things in that vacant magic hour allows us the mental break that we sometimes direly need but are not able to attain. Although not all of the activities in the book worked for me, what it did show was an array of things I could do that are outside of my usual box. And, eventually, that was the whole point.

Not everyone has the opportunity to do different things in life every day, but we can all find time to try new things, which can make our days a lot more exciting.

AMAL MUSES
A GEOSCIENTIST BY DAY AND ASPIRING WRITER BY NIGHT, AMAL GHAZALI
PONDERS ON EVERYTHING, FROM PERPLEXING, MODERN-DAY RELATIONSHIP DILEMMAS TO THE FASCINATING WORLD OF WOMEN’S HEALTH AND WELLBEING. ALL DONE OF COURSE , WHILE HAVING A GOOD LAUGH. READ MORE OF HER STORIES AT BOOTSOVERBOOKS.COM

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