When you ask someone what do they do to relax when they have downtime, how many say they grab a book and read? I’m sure there are at least some. And, while I love books, words are my life. Between writing, editing and yes, reading, sometimes even the best book isn’t the break I truly need. Sometimes, I need to step away from the cascading words on a page and give myself a true brain break.

Here’s how I do that.

Brain breaks are important no matter what you do for a living. They’re an opportunity for your brain, that busy muscle, to rest and recharge. Pushing your brain too hard can impact your productivity, accuracy and efficiency. Even though you’re putting in more time working by not taking breaks, that work could be subpar to what you could accomplish after taking time to rest your head.

Creating the structure to allow your brain to rest enables you to get back to work refreshed and better able to complete tasks and meet goals. You can reduce stress, improve your focus, inspire creativity and make it easier to retain information.

For young kids, brain breaks often involve a physical activity, something to get them up and away from their desks. They’ll dance, sing and move around. This change of pace is an instrumental component to a brain break, but you don’t have to work up a sweat to achieve the R&R your brain requires for optimal performance.

For me, while I do prioritize getting away from my computer and my desk, my brain breaks aren’t always physically demanding. Although varied, their one goal — to stop my brain from thinking about words.

I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s — skating was ‘the thing.’ I remember when rollerblades came out. I played roller hockey (for fun) and spent hours on quads and blades skating my neighborhood sidewalks. Everyone had a skating party and the roller rink held its own allure. I remember teaching my dad to skate and the little practice rink our local spot had for beginners.

Not a very athletic person in my own right, I felt confident on skates and still do to a certain extent. I recently decided to give quads a try again after 30+ years on rollerblades, and our closest rink does an adult night once a week. My husband and I don’t go every week, but having that option to get away and do something where I’m focused on my body, on moving and on the music is a massive break from what I do all day.

Another physical brain break for me, although less demanding than being on skates, is yoga. I only got into this practice about a year ago, but it has changed me for the better. Nothing else I do provides such an immediate break. I go three times a week on average and do slow flow classes, warm flow classes and a stretch class.

Yoga is an amazing brain break because you’re only able to think about your breath and how your body is moving. It’s not taxing, it’s relaxing — even when working up a sweat. My thoughts stay completely focused on what I’m doing for that whole 45-60 minutes, and I feel rested and clear-headed when I leave the studio.

For me, a morning class helps me stay motivated to get through the rest of my day. An evening class helps create a meaningful separation between being busy and winding down. There’s no wrong time to do yoga. Currently, it’s my favorite brain break and the one I do most regularly. I highly recommend a routine exercise class, that you do outside of your home, if you’re looking to find a way to take your mind off your day-to-day.

While they may frustrate me in the moment if particularly hard, puzzles are another favorite brain break of mine. There’s only shapes to work with, and although I’m still using the strategic part of my brain, it’s in a completely different way from writing. There’s also the rewarding feeling when you get when you compete a puzzle, find that impossible-to-find-piece or make progress on a puzzle that seems like you’ll never finish.

I’ve done all kinds of puzzles. Some have taken me forever because I can only work on them in 30-minute increments. Some I see the pieces come together immediately and get the puzzle done in record time. No matter what the theme, the total pieces or the difficulty level, the act of sitting on my floor with a puzzle splayed out, looking at shapes instead of words, has a restorative effect.

Puzzles are also making a comeback and I have friends who I can trade puzzles with. This makes it easier to keep my options open without constantly having to shop myself.

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be an artist. I loved to draw, sketch and color. I loved how a new box of crayons smelled and hated when you had to peel the paper and sharped your favorite color. Drawing has always brought me peace so I now use art as a brain break for myself.

My current coloring hobby is those color-by-number coloring books. I like the structure of having a specific color assigned to each section, and that each section is relatively small. Do I always follow the color palette exactly? No. But, I get close and enjoy the fact that I just get to do the project rather than think about it on a higher level. Sometimes, the best brain break lets you do a little on auto-pilot.

I also have some adult coloring books for when I do want more input in color and more varied spaces to fill, but lean into those a lot less frequently than I’d initially thought. The best part though of this being one of my brain breaks is the assortment of colored pencils I now own. They’re an adult’s version of crayons and so much more precise.

Working as a creative, brain break are an absolute necessity to keep the creative juices flowing. They’re how I decompress, get away from my desk and remember to use my brain in different ways. Taking a break from words is hard for me though. I love words so much. Whether I’m writing something from scratch, editing someone else’s content or simply reading a book, I still find pleasure in all the words. I just know that may brain needs those breaks to maintain that sense of euphoria. So, I gladly take them.


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