lunchbreak

This important meal can affect how your workday goes and your future health.

Has your lunch break turned into a dull chore or, worse, something that rarely happens? No matter how much or how little time you have, we've gathered some tips from health, beauty and career coaching experts on how you can take back your time.

15 Minutes Or Less
NO TIME? NO PROBLEM. HERE ARE SOME QUICK ACTIVITIES YOU CAN SQUEEZE INTO A JAM-PACKED SCHEDULE.

GET OUT! Take a walk, hike or stroll. "A recent study revealed that exercising 15 minutes a day can increase a person's life span by three years," advises Dr. Stacey Shillington, a naturopathic doctor at the Rosedale Dermatology Centre. "Go to a nearby park to surround yourself with nature. It'll help alleviate stress."

CREATE A BLISS PLAYLIST Download a meditation or relaxation track. "If you can't get away from the office physically, slip on a pair of headphones to take a mental break," suggests Dr. Shillington. Some ahh- inspiring tracks are available at soundstrue.com.

PRACTICE OFFICE YOGA While you may not want to perform a downward dog in your cubicle, Dr. Shillington recommends trying one of the seven office yoga routines provided on the University of Alberta's website. Visit www.hrs.ualberta.ca and search for "Office Yoga". Each routine takes 12 minutes.

30 Minutes Or Less
FASTER THAN A PIZZA DELIVERY, HERE ARE SOME WAYS TO MAKE THAT HALF HOUR AS REFRESHING AS POSSIBLE.

FILL'ER UP! "Give you stomach meaningful work &mdash fill up on vegetables," says Mary Bamford, BSc, a registered dietician and holistic nutritionist at Newtopia. "Enjoy one to two cups of brilliant coloured veggies at lunch."

THINK OUTSIDE THE CUBICLE Being stuck in the office doesn't mean you need to focus on work over your lunch break. "Reach out to someone you haven't connected with in a while, or seek inspiration from stories of others who've succeeded despite challenging situations," advises Lynne O'Connor. "When we don't think wider than who we are, we tend to get stuck more easily."

ACT LIKE A EUROPEAN "Think about how people eat in places like Italy and Spain, where they have a siesta and take the time to enjoy their meal and their company," suggests Dr. Karyn Hood, PhD, C. Psych, a clinical psychologist at Newtopia. "When you make time for lunch and slow things down and focus on the whole experience, you are more likely to eat less and get a great stress break at the same time."

60 Minutes
DID YOU KNOW THAT MOST PEOPLE WHO SKIP LUNCH RARELY LEAVE THE OFFICE ANY EARLIER? GIVE LUNCH- SKIPPING A MISS AND TRY THESE TIPS INSTEAD.

PLAN AHEAD "Book time for lunch in your schedule as often as you can, so you're not so rushed," suggests Dr. Hood. Find a lunch buddy so that you both can encourage each other to take a midday break, or make a date with a good friend or significant other to take your mind off work. "Knowing you have some connection time coming up can be a good thing," says Lynne O'Connor.

BRING THE GYM TO YOU "Many personal trainers or aerobics instructors will come in to your office building and teach a class on your lunch break," says Natasha Vani. "This could be a great team- bonding exercise." Prefer to go it alone? Newtopia offers access to personal training sessions and other exercises online and via a smartphone app.

BOOK IT Treat yourself to a manicure, blowout, Botox injections or another treatment. To get the most out of your appointment, Dr. Weksberg suggests selecting a treatment that offers two benefits. "A SilkPeel Dermalinfusion ($300) exfoliates while also re-hydrating the skin," says Dr. Weksberg. "This treatment will leave you feeling refreshed and looking radiant in under an hour."