Take a Mental Break in Under 10 Minutes
By Jessica Cho, HealthCorps Summer Intern 2019
Is that list of things you still need to check off staring you down? That assignment refusing to do itself? Students or co-workers demanding too much? We’ve all been there. Life can get stressful. But you don’t need to completely shut down when faced with a load of stress. Instead, take a short mental break that will allow you to quickly re-center yourself and get back on track without letting too much time slip away.
Read a Positive Note
Sometimes all you need is a quick pick-me-up to put a smile on your face and to get re-motivated. Fill a jar with your favorite inspirational quotes or sayings and leave it on your desk or at your workspace. The next time you’re feeling a lag in energy, go ahead and grab one to read for a mental boost! Remind yourself that you are capable. As a token of gratitude to a friend, consider filling a jar with compliments or all the things you love about him or her. It’s the perfect desk or locker gift to remind someone how special they are. Though a simple act of appreciation, it’s guaranteed to leave a lasting impact.
Listen to Your Favorite Song
Don’t forget to bring a pair of headphones with you in your bag or pocket for the day! Music can be therapeutic and listening to your favorite song just one time through could be all you need to elevate your mood. Let the lyrics and beat move through you. Welcome any and all creative surges. Since music is linked to our emotions, it’s a great stress management tool. Go for some upbeat, uplifting pop if that’s what you’re into, but give some soothing music a try too. Slow, calming tunes can help slow your pulse, lower blood pressure, and decrease levels of stress hormones.
Send Someone You Love a Quick Message
When life seems too overwhelming, it can be hugely beneficial to stop, step back, and simply be reminded of all there is to be thankful for. Family and friends, for example, are people who you might feel comfortable falling back on when needed. Take the time to send them a quick message or write them a quick note for later saying hello or how much they mean to you. Thinking about the people you love and expressing it in some way can immediately bring you to a better mental state. Though they may not be physically there with you in the moment, thinking of them can still induce a similar endorphin and happy hormone release in the body.
Meditation doesn’t require a yoga mat, an arrangement of candles, or specific clothing attire. You can practice meditation just about anywhere, including at work! For as little as 5-10 minutes, you can close your eyes, deep breathe, and let yourself be present with your thoughts. For some guided meditation, you can download iPhone apps like Headspace, which is great for quick, easy to follow instruction. Choose from a variety of lessons. It only takes a few minutes of self-awareness to restore peace to your day.
At some point as a kid, you may have been reprimanded for doodling as a distracted habit. But doodling, especially as a break from work, can actually be quite beneficial both cognitively and emotionally. Contrary to popular belief, research has shown that doodling can be an aid in concentration and information retention. Doodling has also been shown to stimulate creativity within the brain. Furthermore, doodling can be effective in relieving stress because it allows your hand to move freely with no specific guidelines to follow. Adult coloring books filled with fun and intricate designs can be a handy item to keep in your desk drawer for those moments you need a relaxing, yet soothing outlet to run free with your creative side.
Take a Walk
When you’ve been sitting for a while or if you feel like you’re having a bit of a mental block, get out of your seat and move around. Take a few minutes to walk outside, preferably in a non-busy natural setting if possible. Stay away from using this time to look at your phone, but rather keep your eyes up, look around, and breathe in the fresh air. Allow yourself to notice your surroundings and take in your environment. This will help get your blood flow pumping again and is an effective way to clear your mind and even spark new inspiration.
Grab a Snack
Getting a little restless? Cranky even? This could be your body telling you it needs to refuel! When life gets busy, it can be surprisingly easy to forget how important it is to have regular meals and snacks when necessary in between. Nourishing yourself is absolutely essential when it comes to functioning at the best of your potential. Listen to your body. If you’re feeling off or fatigued, you may just be in need of a bite to eat! Make sure to reach for foods that will provide you with real nutrition and efficiency rather than foods high in sugar and fat. Make your food choices worth it.
Writing your thoughts down can be a useful and productive emotional release. Find a pen and a piece of paper or notepad and remind yourself that you are capable. Write three affirmation sentences that start with “I am…” (ex. “I am brave.”, “I am strong.”, “I am driven.”). You might feel awkward giving yourself positive affirmations, especially if it’s not something you typically do, but the outcome can be immensely rewarding. You’ll want to give this a try. Bringing good thoughts about yourself to life by materializing them on paper can help you become more confident and productive in your everyday life. Physically seeing these affirmations written down will help you believe what you tell yourself. Manifest your goals and aspirations and remind yourself that you’re worthy.
Chat with a Friend
Without getting too distracted or off task, taking a break to chat with a friend, face-to-face, is a great way to take a mental break from work. Instead of using your free time to jump online, position yourself away from a screen and towards someone you can really talk to. Asking a friend or colleague about their day or simply saying “hi” can leave you feeling refreshed. Person to person interaction is an everyday must. It’s also a great way to grow and build relationships, which is sure to make your work environment even more fun and enjoyable.
Don’t let yourself feel defeated. There are always ways to make things better no matter what the situation is. When you notice yourself feeling a bit deflated, it’s highly encouraged to take a mental break to prevent burnout. It doesn’t take much time to treat yourself with the care to re-center, replenish, and re-boot! Make it the most effective 10 minutes (or less!) of your day.