August 4, 2022

expert

Minute read

The 5 Minute Mental Health Break That Actually Works

Picture this—you’re sitting at your desk at work, it’s 3pm, and you find yourself with your head in your hands. You have been staring blankly at your computer screen for the last 30 minutes, overwhelmed by your ever-growing to-do list and the 30 tabs you have open both in your brain and on your screen.

Time for a break. You get up from your chair, ignoring the tightness in your lower back, shoulders, and neck and you head to the kitchen, automatically reaching for the coffee.

Sound familiar?

The next time you find yourself in this scenario, try this 5-step mental health break. You can do it anywhere and at any time.

Planning your breaks helps to take one less decision off your plate. It will also help you stick to a routine!
  1. Take the thinking out of the equation
    Decision fatigue is a real thing. It is estimated that an American adult makes 35,000 every day. Let’s not add ‘when should I take my mental health break?‘ to the equation! Schedule your break twice a day as a recurring event, and set an alarm on your phone or block the time out on your calendar.
  2. Move your body
    Why am I so physically tired? I’ve been sitting down all day!‘ It doesn’t make logical sense that sitting down all day could make your body feel physically tired. However, studies have shown that prolonged mental stress can impact physical performance. Not only do our minds tire from continuous stress, but our bodies are battling with poor posture, long periods of sitting, and the glare of a computer screen for hours on end.

    Taking periodic breaks to move your body can release the build-up of stress tension, reducing changes of migraines and headaches, as well as the risk of generalized pain over time.

    Start your mental health break with these simple movements:

    Full body stretch – arms overhead and stretch the torso and front of the hips
    Wiggle your hips – move pelvis in circle motions to flex and extend the lower back
    Roll the neck & shoulders – roll the shoulders 3x in each direction then clockwise and anti-clockwise with the head

    You’ll notice your energy start to increase just from moving your body around.
  3. Rest your mind
    Sit back in your chair and close your eyes. Then take three deep breaths—in through the nose and releasing through your mouth. Relax your stomach, shoulders, and face, and then just start to watch your breath as it flows in and out of your body. Keep your mind focused on watching your breath. Keep in mind that it doesn’t matter if your attention is pulled in another direction! As soon as you realize it, just relax and bring your attention back to watching your breath.
  4. Drink water before coffee
    Often tiredness can be caused by dehydration. Before you head back to work, head to the kitchen and enjoy a glass of water.
  5. Have a mindful moment
    Close your eyes, relax your shoulders and your belly and take three deep breaths—in through the nose and out through the mouth. This simple diaphragmatic breath technique has been proven to lower your stress levels and blood pressure and to regulate your bodily processes.
Never underestimate the power of water and how hydration affects how you feel!

This whole process will take less than five minutes and will clear your mind and refresh your body—ready for whatever lies ahead. Your body and mind deserve a break-time makeover!

Sources

Araujo, Laura. “Modern Day Mindfulness: A Tea Meditation.” The MAPS Institute, 7 Apr. 2022, https://themapsinstitute.com/a-tea-meditation/. 

“How Much Water Should You Drink?” Edited by Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Health, 25 Mar. 2020, https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-much-water-should-you-drink. 

Inirio, Bianca. “Our Breathing Alters Our Posture – but Our Posture Alters Our Breath. Are You Ready to Breathe and Feel Better Today?” The MAPS Institute, 12 Apr. 2022, https://themapsinstitute.com/how-deep-breath-can-alter-our-posture-and-affect-movement-2/. 

Ippolito, Heather Snyder. “3 Reasons Good Posture Is so Hard (but Doesn’t Have to Be).” The MAPS Institute, 10 Feb. 2021, https://themapsinstitute.com/3-reasons-good-posture-is-so-hard-but-doesnt-have-to-be/. 

Jewell, Tim, and Crystal Hoshaw. “Diaphragmatic Breathing: Exercises, Techniques, and More.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 5 Nov. 2021, https://www.healthline.com/health/diaphragmatic-breathing. 

Martin, Kristy et al. “Mental Fatigue Impairs Endurance Performance: A Physiological Explanation.” Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.) vol. 48,9 (2018): 2041-2051. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-018-0946-9 Pignatiello, Grant A et al. “Decision fatigue: A conceptual analysis.” Journal of health psychology vol. 25,1 (2020): 123-135. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105318763510



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