Be kind to yourself with lunchtime runs, creative meet-ups and amazing art trails…
Wellness is vital to all of us and getting back to the office brings with it new challenges. Happily, the city is packed with social lunchtime and after-work activities that can help alleviate stress and put your mental and physical health first. Being back in the office shouldn’t stop you prioritising your wellbeing, in fact, it can be your gateway to a self-care journey or the next step on a path you’re already taking.
Make time for music
Whether you want to banish the blues, soothe your soul or get a much-needed screen break after being neck-deep in spreadsheets, music is just the ticket. Make your way to the Leeds Conservatoire where you can watch performances of chamber music during your lunch break for free – you don’t even need to book. This is your chance to hear internationally acclaimed musicians and deepen your appreciation of the classical repertoire.
Leeds Lunchtime Chamber Music, The Venue, Leeds Conservatoire, 3 Quarry Hill, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7PD. Check their website for the latest programme. Admission is free.
Enjoy fabulously free yoga every Thursday
Belgrave Music Hall hosts two Thursday yoga sessions – one at 11am and one at 1pm – with fully qualified instructor Sinead, open to all abilities and with no need to book. Did we mention it’s free? Well, it is! Heck, they even provide the mats for gratis. Yoga can help with stress relief and flexibility, as well as muscle tone, strength and heart health, and it can be as social as you want it to be.
Belgrave Music Hall, 1-1a Cross Belgrave Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JP. Yoga takes place at 11am and 1pm every Thursday.
Dip into Leeds’ first wellbeing cafe
Better Days is truly unique in Leeds. Inside the glorious Grand Arcade, it’s a bar-cum-coffeehouse that has wellness at its core ethos. You can drop by for drinks – they do excellent cocktails – but it’s the attitude that’s the main thing here – it’s all the brainchild of mental health coach Vicky Fytche, and openness is encouraged. It hosts wellbeing workshops, Women’s Wellbeing Club Leeds and they have a table dedicated to mental health services.
Better Days Wellbeing Coffee House, Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.
Express your creative side
Fancy flexing your creative muscles? The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery at The University of Leeds runs a couple of fun, laidback drop-in activities you’re very welcome to join. Sketch Club has a different ‘Friday focus’ to sketch every week, with drawing known to help channel feelings, relax and destress. Want to channel your inner writer instead? Head to Pen and Paper at the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery every Wednesday.
The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, Parkinson Building, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, 9JT. Sketch Club takes place every Friday from 12.30pm. Pen and Paper takes place every Wednesday from 12.30pm.
Blaze a trail at a city centre bootcamp
Fancy getting fit after work but don’t fancy the grind of the gym? Trailblazer Fitness run bootcamps all across Leeds that are fun, cheap and social – and all abilities and ages are welcome. They run a Friday evening session in Hanover Square which is the perfect way to head into the weekend. For £5 you’ll warm up and stretch before doing circuit training and their bespoke workout routines – they’ve designed hard and easy versions of all of them.
Trailblazer Bootcamp run sessions across the city, including at Hanover Square on Friday evenings. It costs £5.
Find inner peace during lunch
If the idea of working up a sweat doesn’t appeal and you fancy nourishing your mental rather than physical health, lunchtime meditation is a fine way to find some peace of mind during the working week. Jamyang Buddhist Centre run free in-person lunchtime sessions on Tuesday and Friday – they’re completely secular, so you don’t have to be a Buddhist to attend. Just drop in and zone out, whether it’s your first time or fiftieth.
Jamyang Buddhist Centre, Clyde Works, Ingram Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS11 9RQ. In-person meditation sessions run from 12.30pm to 1.00pm, Tuesday and Friday. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.
Run the city streets
Pounding the pavements is a good way to increase your fitness, release stress and give your mental health dial a nudge in the right direction. Leeds Dock Running Club meet regularly at – you’ve guessed it – Leeds Dock, while there’s also a group at Wellington Place. Instead of a Pret sarnie eaten al desko, you can join them on a social lunchtime run. All abilities are welcome, so you don’t have to be the next Mo Farah to get your cardio fix.
Leeds Dock Running Club meets at lunchtimes outside North Star Cafe. Join their Facebook Group for the latest dates. Wellington Place Running Club meet every Friday at 1.15pm. You have to be a Wellington Place member to join the run.
Explore a self-guided art trail
Art is one of the best ways to enjoy what the city has to offer while getting the desk shackles off. But rather than just heading to a gallery, why not follow a free street art trail around Leeds? When the weather is fine, you can up your step count and see some truly incredible, large-scale al fresco art. From the mighty Cornucopia where Vicar Lane and Call Lane meet, to local rugby league legend Rob Burrow at Leeds Beckett University, there’s tons to see.
The Welcome to Leeds Street Art Trail will take you to 27 locations across Leeds – check it out!
Be kind to yourself with a massage
They must be doing something right at Rosa Thai Massage because there are four of them in Leeds, with the one on Oxford Place ideally located for lunchtime or post-work pampering. Treat yourself to a Thai massage and feel your cares lift away – the deep tissue hot oil massage lasts an hour, or you can go for the floor-based yoga style traditional massage without oil. Either way, you’ll leave invigorated and feeling damn good!
Rosa Thai Massage, 1 Oxford Place, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3AX.
Pack in some poetry at a Leeds landmark
The Leeds Library is one of the city’s best-kept secrets, an aesthetically gorgeous heritage library smack in the middle of shopping central. Become a member and you’ll have a place of serenity and hush to browse books on your break, and they run plenty of events to get involved with too. Nowt But Verse is a regular and very welcoming lunchtime poetry chat, with guest poets and readings. They’ve got a great film club too.
The Leeds Library, 18 Commercial Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6AL.
Meet new friends at a networking event
Networking events are a great way to make business contacts, to find friends in the same sector, and of course, to socialise, but some of them can be quite stuffy. Not so Simply Networking’s regular events in Leeds. Held at places you might actually want to go to – Neighbourhood, say – you can enjoy buffet food and drinks in a relaxed, no pressure environment. Mingle, arrive and leave anytime between midday and 2pm.
Simply Networking Leeds buffet lunch events take place at locations across Leeds. Admission starts from £15.
Discover your inner artist
A jaunt around Leeds Art Gallery is a fine way to inject some serenity and culture into your working week, but it’s also home to loads of events. One of the best is the weekly ‘Meet & Make’, which takes place every Friday from 1.30pm to 3pm. It’s a chance to find out about the wonderful art in the gallery, but also do some hands-on making, with themes covering everything from sculpting to abstract painting.
Leeds Art Gallery, The Headrow, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3AA. Meet & Make runs from 1.30pm to 3pm every Friday. Tickets are free but should be booked in advance.
Drink and draw at The Tetley
The Tetley, based in the grand old brewery, has established a reputation both as a home for contemporary art and a great place to grab a drink. You can combine both at their monthly Drink & Draw events. It’s a popular Wednesday night staple that always sells out, so reserve your tickets ahead of time. There’s a different theme every month – from pastels or life drawing, just grab yourself a drink and they’ll provide all the materials.
The Tetley, Hunslet Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1JQ. Drink & Draw events are monthly. Tickets are £6 and should be booked in advance.
Banish boredom with board games
One of the most welcoming places to chill out in Leeds, Outlaws Yacht Club is home to book clubs, live shows and a pretty legendary grilled cheese sandwich. It’s also festooned with vintage board games, and you’re free to drop by and play them whenever you want. Grab a coffee and a slice of cake – or a pint and a pork pie – and take on your friends or colleagues at everything from Boggle to Connect 4, the perfect way to unwind.
Outlaws Yacht Club, 38 New York Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7DY.
Find your next book at a Little Free Library
Carving out time to read is one of the best ways you can look after yourself, and the Little Free Libraries dotted around Leeds add an element of pot-luck and surprise to your next read. These beautifully decorated mini-libraries – there’s one at Leeds Dock – encourage you to take a book and also leave one. Want to share the last book you fell in love with? Want to pick up something outside of your comfort zone? This is the place to go.
Leeds Little Free Library, outside North Star Cafe, Unit 32, The Boulevard, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS10 1PZ.
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