6 Ways to Take a Break (Before You Break Down)
It’s National Mental Health Day tomorrow (August 13), and we consider that a reason to call in sick. But if you’re an entrepreneur, freelance or contract worker, or mom and you don’t get sick days (we’re with you), there are still easy ways to create breaks in your day so you don’t burn out.
Can’t take a full mental health day off? Here are 6 tips to help your mental state before you break down at work, today or any day.
1. Stop and breathe.
Did you know that deep breaths can actually help activate your parasympathetic nervous system? It’s the opposite of your body’s fight-or-flight reaction. When you exhale longer than you inhale, you tap into your vagus nerve, which is longest nerve of the autonomic nervous system, and helps regulate your heart, lungs and digestive tract. By taking two minutes to breathe deeply, you can curb anxiety and come back to your to-do list with more focus. We like these 16 seconds to bliss.
2. Fuel your body.
Not consuming enough calories daily can not only contribute to anxiety, but it can also make your day go from manageable to hangry real fast. If you’re feeling run down, ask yourself the last time you drank some water and had a snack. Sometimes it’s as simple as sipping some water and eating a banana with some almonds to get back on track.
3. Take a walk.
Or move your body in some way. It doesn’t have to dropping everything to go to a cycling or hot yoga class. It can just be stepping away from your tech, rolling your shoulders back and stretching out your neck. If you want a super-easy routine, try this five-minute restorative yoga sequence.
4. Get outside.
Never underestimate the power of some good old vitamin D. Combine tip three and four, and take a little walk around your office building or neighborhood. Or, just stand outside, breathing in and out for a few minutes. It doesn’t have to be long, but reconnecting with your environment can increase your joy.
You knew we were going to suggest this. 😉 Meditating is proven to help reduce stress and increase focus, as well as relieve anxiety and stress. But meditation doesn’t only come in the 40-minute transcendental variety. It can be as simple as writing in a gratitude journal, reciting a mantra for a few minutes or using the mindfulness part of yoga as a meditative technique. Do what feels good to you, and know that you’re doing good for your body and mind.
Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to take a nap. That may or may not always been accessible to you, but considering that sleep is as essential to your health as food, a 20-minute power nap might be all you need to see what’s right in the world. Even 10 minutes of shut-eye is proven to immediately boost alertness, focus and cognitive productivity for up to three hours.
Still struggling with stress and anxiety? Here’s what happened when our writer tried taking cold showers to deal with her anxiety—and if you’re not ready to go that full-on, try our DIY stress relief aromatherapy recipe.