Love lunchtime again with these five great mood lifters.

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We all know the importance of eating a healthy breakfast. But a dedicated lunch break can be just as crucial to maintaining productivity, energy and mood while at work. “Taking a lunch break has huge benefits for your overall health and productivity,” confirms Lynne Roeder, Regional Director of Hays Recruitment. “People that don’t take a regular break away from their desk are more likely to have higher stress levels, lower morale and lower productivity as well as increasing the chance of fatigue-related mistakes.”

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Why not consider trading in your ham and cheese at the desk for one of these great alternatives?

Learn a new language

Fancy some lunch break linguistics? Brush up on your Bulgarian or perfect your Portuguese with any one of 40 languages available to learn for free at www.openculture.com.

Lessons come in perfect lunch-sized portions of 30 minutes and the site lists languages alphabetically, making it easy to navigate. Open Culture’s list of free foreign language lessons includes links to iTunes sites, podcasts and websites which provide a great variety of fun and simple learning styles to have you speaking like a native in no time.

Learning a foreign language takes time and dedication, but for basic conversational level, you can expect to take up to six months of lunch breaks to feel competent and progress to more experienced stages.

Donate blood

Each week Australia needs over 27,000 blood donations to meet demand. Becoming a blood donor is a simple and painless way for you to help others and potentially save a life. “Your single blood donation, after separation can help three people as well as go toward the production of a range of life-saving immunisations,” says Kathy Bowlen from the Australian Red Cross Blood Service.

There are strict guidelines as to who can donate blood www.donateblood.com.au provides a short questionnaire to determine the eligibility of prospective donors.

Your one hour appointment allows time to fill out paperwork and enjoy a post-donation snack, but the actual blood donation itself only takes about 10 minutes.

It’s recommended to make an appointment at your local donation centre by calling 13 14 95.

Train Your Brain

More frightening than Crow’s Feet or saggy skin is the fact that our brains deteriorate as we age. “Cognitive exercises and learning new skills stimulates the brain and generates new networks, but the key is repetition, even for a few minutes every day,” explains Professor Peter Schofield, Executive Director of Neuroscience Research Australia.

Most programs utilise number games, word puzzles and reading exercises that improve memory and maintain brain health and functionality.

Our brain needs regular challenges and exercise to grow to, and maintain its full potential. And it appears it’s a case of use it or lose it. Exercising our brains could be a secret weapon to fight our rising rate of early stage Alzheimer's.

Websites such as www.luminosity.com offer personalised brain training programs. You can even take your training alfresco with the popular Dr Kawashima Brain Training available on Nintendo DS (www.braintraining.com.au).

Take a mini vacation

Escape to your dream holiday destination by browsing travel sites online. While it’s not as fun as the real thing, research suggests that daydreaming has wonderful powers to relieve stress. “By focussing on a much desired destination, the pleasant and calming effect will slow your brain waves, and stress levels will decline,” says psychologist Dr Carla Rogers of Here and Now Health.

As well as visualising your ideal getaway, your lunch break is a great time to research and plan your holiday. The world really is your oyster when it comes to the World Wide Web and you can compare prices, check out a travel blog or visit great websites like www.earthcam.com which shows live streams from places like the Eiffel Tower and Niagara Falls.

Phone a friend

Pick up the phone and call someone you love. Make those phone calls you've been putting off or simply reconnect with someone you haven't spoken to in ages.

We all feel better after a nice long chinwag with a friend, and here’s why. Humans are social beings by nature, and maintaining a sense of connectedness to others is an important component of stress reduction. “Adequate amounts of social support are associated with increases in levels of the hormone oxytocin, which functions to decrease anxiety and increase confidence,” confirms Dr Rogers.

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By spending just 15 minutes engaging with friends or family verbally as opposed to virtually, you can lift your mood as well as strengthen your sense of life having meaning and purpose. Better yet, you’ll have a vehicle to vent about your crazy colleagues and as they say, a problem shared is a problem halved.