Photo of a door leading outside.

Need a Break? 7 Simple Ways to Rejuvenate

In Education, Self-Care by Courtney ArcherLeave a Comment

Everyone needs to take a break every now and then. So if you are beating yourself up because you need a break, well, take a break from that.

Just like every cent counts when trying to save money, every stressor counts when trying to keep yourself on track. Even everyday stressors add up, and sometimes the best thing you can do is to take a break.

After all, taking a break is one of the three pillars of self-care: finding a sense of relief. (Read about all of the pillars of self-care here.) The other two pillars, finding a sense of satisfaction and finding a sense of wonder, can sometimes feel like work.

If taking care of yourself feels like just another task on your to-do list, it is definitely a sign that you need a break. We will discuss this sign along with a few others below so that you can better recognize when you need to take a break. If you find yourself regularly saying or thinking, “I need a break,” that is another straightforward indication that it is time for a bit of a timeout.

Keep reading to learn more about how to recognize when you need a break. You will also learn some simple ways to take a break and some strategies for making the most of the breaks you do take.

Photo of someone taking a break on a forest trail.

7 Simple Things To Do When You Need a Break

How Do I Know When I Need a Break?

Just because you are stressed out does not mean that you need a break. Sometimes it means that you need to take care of business, and sometimes it means that you need to do something that brings you joy.

For example, if you are stressed because you have a busy day ahead of you, taking a break might not be the best way to resolve your stress about having a lot to do. In this instance, it might be more helpful to decide which task to tackle first and jump in.

However, if you are in the middle of your busy day and pulling out your hair because your boss just added another item to your heavy workload, it is probably better to go for a quick walk around the building or to the bathroom and back before going on to your next thing. Again, though, another solution could be advocating for yourself and telling your boss that you simply do not have the time.

You are the expert on whether taking a break is the best solution or not. The thing is, you gotta stop long enough to realize that you actually need a break. It can be hard to tell when we need a break if we are not taking the time to check in with ourselves.

Take a minute right now to consider if you are showing any of the classic warning signs that you need a break:

  1. Doing your routine self-care feels like work.
  2. You dread getting out of bed and starting your day.
  3. You cannot remember the last time you did something you enjoyed.
  4. It takes more than a few seconds to come up with one of your goals or aspirations.
  5. Everything feels too big to handle.
  6. You feel like you need to escape.
  7. You are never not busy.
  8. You are avoiding your responsibilities (this also looks like always distracting yourself but never feeling relieved, like spending hours on social media and feeling worse after than you did before you started).
  9. You never feel rested or like you have enough energy.

Any of these sound like you? Maybe several of them? If so, it is a pretty good indication that it is time to take a break.

Photo of someone walking who might need a break.

How will Taking a Break Help Me?

If you have figured out that you need a break but are not sure how it will help you, keep on reading. There is a multitude of ways that taking a break helps relieve stress.

First of all, it helps reset your brain. When stressed, the brain tends to hyperfocus on specific things, which can lead to losing track of other things. Taking a break from whatever is stressing you out gives your brain a chance to focus on something else for a minute.

Not only does this help your brain chill out, but it also helps your brain focus better when you go back to the task at hand. Just like taking a short nap can help you reset your day, taking a short break can help you regain some energy.

Taking a break can also improve your overall health. Relentless stress leads to increased cortisol levels, which can lead to some serious health concerns. Recognizing when you need a break and taking one can lead to lower levels of cortisol and decrease those health concerns.

In short, taking the break you need will increase your peace of mind, help you focus, and can even reduce health risks. There are a lot of reasons to take a break!

Photo of a woman sitting outside, a great thing to do when you need a break.

What Kind of Break do I Need to Take?

The break you need today may not be the break you need tomorrow. Stressors change from one day to the next, and it is helpful to tailor your break to the stressors at hand.

Doing the same things to take a break over and over may lead to being less intentional about it, and can even lead to your break not being as effective. It is good to have some solid go-to’s for taking a break, you just probably need more than one.

That being said, two or three is probably enough. If you are having an extremely busy day and feel like you do not have time to take a break, but might explode if you do not take one, then a short and simple break is in order. Something as simple as closing your eyes to focus on your breathing can help in a situation like this.

However, if you are having an emotionally difficult day and have a moment to do more than just breathe, then do something more. You could try a mindful eating exercise or a mindful walk down the hall.

Take some time to think of some quick and easy ways to take a moment away from whatever is stressing you. If you do not have the time to do that, then just keep reading. We will cover some very simple ways to take a break down below.

Photo of a man sitting outside on a bench, a good thing to try if you need a break.

7 Simple Things You Can Do to Take a Break

Taking a break does not have to be difficult or take a lot of time. If you have a lot of time, then please do use some of it to take a prolonged break!

Most of us do not have a ton of time on our hands though. Having a shortage of time is usually part of what causes so much stress!

Nevertheless, there are plenty of things that you can do when you need a break but do not have a lot of time. The seven suggestions below are a great start. While you read through, try to think about which ones apply best to you.

If you think of some that are not listed below, even better! These suggestions are just meant to get you started. Feel free to share anything else you think of in the comments so that we can all brainstorm ways to take a break together!

But for now, check out these seven suggestions:

1. Take a Breath

As mentioned earlier in the article, a wonderfully simple way to take a break is to take a breath. If you can, and if you feel comfortable doing so, close your eyes so that you can cut down on distracting visual stimuli.

Take the deepest breath you can, really filling your lungs, and then breathe it out just as fully. Repeat as needed.

As you breathe, notice the way it feels as your lungs expand. Try placing a hand on your chest and on your abdomen to connect with the way your body moves and works together to keep you alive.

Sometimes it helps to give yourself a count of five or seven for each in and out-breath. This gives you a measured pattern to follow, which also gives your brain something else to think about besides whatever is stressing you out.

Taking a breath is something you can do anytime, anywhere. Whether you are in the middle of a difficult conversation or a harried workday, or simply trying to get yourself back on track at home, try taking a breath.

Photo of the words "and breathe," a good reminder for when you need a break.

2. Step Outside

Stepping outside is a great way to reduce stress when you need a break. As long as there is not a hurricane going on or some other something making the outside dangerous, stepping outside is a great idea!

Going outside gives the brain a much-needed scenery change when things are getting too frantic or heavy up there. It is also a lovely way to use up some nervous energy when you feel restless and unable to focus.

While you are outside, take the time to notice the way the fresh air feels against your skin. What does it smell like out there? What season is it and how can you tell?

One of the reasons why going outside is such a great way to take a break is because it is easier to incorporate your senses outside. From the ground beneath your feet to the sky above, there is generally a pretty good variety of things to experience and appreciate.

Photo of a door leading outside.

3. Visualize Your Happy Place

Another great way to utilize your senses that does not require going anywhere is to fire up your imagination. You can go anywhere you want if it is inside your head!

This method of taking a break can take a little bit of preparation, but doing that preparation sets you up for a very easy and effective way to escape for a few seconds.

In order to make it work, you need to give yourself about 10-20 minutes to thoroughly visualize your happy place. Is it somewhere inside or outside? In a warm or cool climate?

Use each of your senses to really bring this imagining to life. It can be a real place or somewhere entirely made up–the important thing is that you are able to experience it through each of your senses.

The more prep work you do to build your happy place in your mind, the more easily accessible it will be when you need a break.

Photo of a woman sitting by a sign that reads, "This is my happy place."

4. Read/Recall Your Favorite Quotes

Quotes are good for more than just decorative wall hangings or couch pillows. When we read or hear something that resonates with us, it tends to stick around.

If you have some favorite quotes, write them down or print them out so that you can put them in conveniently visible places. When you need a break, just taking a few seconds to remind yourself of something that resonates with you can shift your mood and attitude.

Quotes are a great reminder that you are not alone. There are other people who have been in similar circumstances, felt similar things, and aspired to something greater.

This break taking method will still work for you if you do not have any favorite quotes. Just take some time to find some quotes you like from your favorite books, movies, or on the internet.

Try looking up motivational quotes, self-compassion quotes, kindness quotes, or any other subject that is helpful or inspiring. Once you find something you like, put it somewhere that you can refer to it in difficult moments.

Photo of a quote on a shelf. Reading quotes is a great thing to do when you need a break.

5. Look at a Picture of a Favorite Person or Place

Like quotes, pictures can alter our mental state without needing to do anything but look at it. Like visualizing your happy place, they can transport you somewhere completely different without ever leaving where you are.

Plus, if your happy place is somewhere real, you can use pictures to augment your quick break! You can use a picture that you took or one that you found on the internet–what matters is that it is able to take you away from your present circumstances.

While a picture of your favorite place can help you remind you that there are wonderful, beautiful places in the world. On the other hand, a picture of your favorite person can remind you that there are wonderful, good people.

Everyone needs a reminder sometimes that there are people they love, who also love them. Taking a break to remember this is a powerful way to give you a renewed perspective on your current circumstances.

Photo of a man looking at a picture, a good way to take a break.

6. “Look, Point, Name” Grounding Exercise

When your thoughts just really will not give you a break, sometimes you need to completely redirect them. That is where the “Look, Point, Name” grounding exercise comes in. It takes up too much space in your head to think about anything else but is remarkably simple to employ.

Need a break? Look somewhere, in any direction, point to whatever it is you are looking at, and name it.

Yeah, it really is that easy. It does not get simpler than this break-taking method. Simply look, point, and name.

Try it out. You will find that as long as you are using this skill, your brain will not be able to focus on anything else.

Between the motor skills, language functions, and vision that this method requires, there just is not any room left for thinking other thoughts.

Of course, this break is pretty short-term. It is helpful for jogging your brain out of repetitive thoughts and obsessive thinking. However, it is not going to have a long-term restorative effect.

Photo of some oranges that you could use the "look, point, name" skill with when you need a break.

7. Stretch

If you need a break that is a little more restorative, try stretching. Do not push yourself to the point of pain, but take a few seconds or minutes to stretch out your limbs.

You can do something short and sweet, guiding yourself, or you can do a guided stretch or a yoga session. Whatever you do, stretching is a great way to take a physical and mental break.

Not only does it give you some time to check out and focus on something else, it also helps you ease some of the tension in your shoulders and back.

If you have 20 minutes, try this awesome combination of stretching and yoga:

How to Make the Best of Your Break

Taking a break is all well and good,  but there are some helpful distinctions to make in order to get the most you can out of it. Generally the best break is one that is going to be restorative in one way or another.

It is very common to completely veg out when taking a break. A quick social media break can easily turn into half an hour and then an hour. And then at the end of it, people generally do not feel anymore de-stressed or relaxed.

Checking social media is an easy way to check out, but the best breaks check out of your environment and check in on yourself. Whatever break you are taking, try to bring some intention to it–some mindfulness.

If you need a break, you need a moment for yourself. Being aware of your surroundings, of your experience, and of your responses to it is going to help you make your break more restorative.

For example, stepping outside is not going to do a whole lot for you if you just step outside, mull over all your life problems, and step back inside. You may have stepped away from whatever task was at hand, but did you really get away?

Give yourself the presence of mind to really get away–to experience your break to the fullest.

Photo of someone taking a break.

In Conclusion

We all need to take a break sometimes. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, you can take a breath. If that is all you can do, then do it mindfully.

Remember that it is not selfish or lazy to need a break. It is a sign that you have been working hard and need some rest. Listen to that message when your body sends it to you.

If you have any go-to methods for taking a break that helps you feel restored, please share it in the comments below so that we can all learn from each other.

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