No matter where you’re at in life (building a business, raising kids, crushing your 9-5, taking care of your parents), if you clicked on this, you need a breath. You crave a pause that’s possible. BUT…
It feels selfish. It feels counterproductive.
Deep down, we know that breaks are as vital to our well-being as exercise is, yet we struggle to keep them top-of-mind or justified. When we’re under pressure (good or bad), in the zone and needed by others, of course “me before we” goes out the window.
But here’s the thing. All those people you’re helping? All those projects you’re hustling?
If you want to fully show up, you’ve got to put that oxygen mask on first.
And if you’re like every busy human on this planet, you’re hesitating. You’re too busy for a break.
But what if I told you everything could change in 10 minutes? It can. What if you told yourself you deserve those 10 minutes? You do.
Here are 10 mini breaks that will leave you more energized, focused, productive and even more creative.
1. Daydream on purpose
Contrary to popular belief, daydreaming can actually make you MORE productive. It can help you solve problems and realize your deepest desires, ideas and plans.
Have you ever had an AHA moment in the shower or while walking the dog? That breakthrough is a result of “diffuse mode” thinking. Our most creative ideas and powerful realizations don’t spark when we’re intensely focused. They emerge when we’ve drifted away from our task at hand.
Divert those eyes from your device. Tune OUT from what you’re focused on and tune IN to the power of mental time travel.
2. Lie on the ground
When you “stop, drop and pause,” it’s not only amazing for your mindset (It really grounds me. Pun intended!), but it’s SO good for your body.
Think about it. Unless you’re into yoga and regularly get your Shavasana on, this is probably the only time during the day and night that your back and neck muscles can properly relax. Hard mattresses and stiff couches don’t count!
Let your spine melt into the floor, close your eyes and tune into your thoughts. Warning: This sparks AHA moments, too.
3. Do something hands-on
We’re talking knitting, gardening, cooking, sewing, drawing, collaging, handwriting, coloring, hair braiding, repairing something, polishing, painting, chopping, cleaning, kneading dough, baking…you get the drift.
Making something tangible with your hands not only gets you away from your devices, reflecting on the world around you and stretching new brain muscles, but it can help with depression.
It also evokes a sense of accomplishment that our digital, fast-paced generation is foreign to. Most of us buy much more than we create on our own. With a few taps on our iPad, dinner, clothing and home decor can be delivered to our doorstep. Need I say more?
So if you’re not a chef, florist, jeweler or carpenter, go get your hands on the mental fuel that hand-eye coordination can bring.
4. Walk a new route
Walking helps you think better, get more done and relate better.
Some of history’s greatest minds (Beethoven, Goethe, Dickens, Darwin, Aristotle, Freud) found the mighty stroll helped them compose, write, paint, create and problem-solve.
So get into a steppin’ groove, then take that walk down a new path. By naturally changing the input of your brain, you’ll indulge your senses, pay attention to new things and think of new things.
5. Capture the little things
Want a momentary shift in perspective that will boost your brain? Go on a photo spree outside or around your home, and capture the little things that inspire you or stop you in your tracks. As soon as you put that mental lens on, you’ll be amazed at what you notice.
Want to take it up a notch? Give yourself constraints. Sounds silly, but having limited choices can actually boost creativity and lead to amazing work.
Perhaps take a picture of:
- an insect on a flower.
- your feet in 5 different places.
- 5 small items that are all the same color.
6. Learn something new
One of the BEST things you can do during a break is train your brain to take a 180. Do something totally different than what you’re used to.
- Pick up a magazine on a topic you’re foreign to.
- Take 10 minutes to sign up for that class you’ve been dying to try.
- Want to learn a new language on your device/desktop for free? Try duolingo.
Want to learn something new right NOW? Choose from these 25 YouTube channels.
7. Stop. Drop. Plank.
Most of us associate exercise with go-big-or-go-home workouts, donning certain clothes or physically getting to a gym. No wonder we put it off.
But doing something is better than nothing, so why not do a plank?
This exercise works the whole body, burns more calories than a sit-up, can be done almost anywhere, helps your posture and more.
If you’re weirded out by doing this in front of others (Ahem, in the office!), rally people to JOIN you. Just laugh off your worries and have fun. Set a timer for 60 seconds and hammer it out. Take a breather. Try it again. Maybe mix some push-ups and “stop-drop-pauses” in, too.
The floor is your oyster.
8. Unplug + eat solo
Too many of my meals come with “an iPhone on the side.” I know I’m not the only one.
However, those times I’ve made a conscious decision to disconnect, engage in my surroundings and actually taste my food? Those delicious moments fill me up both physically and mentally. That’s because food-focused eaters have better tasting meals, are less likely to overeat and feel satisfied longer.
Let’s chew to that.
9. Do a good deed
I think we can all agree that doing good gives us all the warm-and-fuzzies, but did you know that “helper’s high” can actually lower stress and boost immunity?
In line somewhere? Treat the person behind you. Walking down the sidewalk? Buy a bundle of tulips and hand ‘em out to passersby. Got a new coworker? Invite them on a coffee break. Want to keep it anonymous? Leave a love note for a stranger in a public place.
The possibilities are endless.
Shake off all the notions that dancing is only meant for certain occasions in certain places at certain times. Dance in your pajamas in the kitchen. Dance while you do the dishes. Dance your way back to your desk. Dance in your chair.
Not in the mood? JT will get that good soul in your feet.
Ten minutes of hard dancing frees your inhibitions, spikes your endorphins and yes, it even has the same benefits as hitting the gym for hours.
THAT’s something to groove to.