Need a Break? 52 Ways to Do It–When You Need It Most

If you’re like too many of us, you’ve had days where you spent hour after hour connected to a screen or a phone or a desk or the task in front of you.

That’s no way to live, no matter who you are or what you do. It adds stress to your life (and all the problems associated with it) and it robs you of joy.

You may not be able to get away for a vacation or even a long weekend, but you can definitely take a little break. You literally owe it to yourself.

Here are some ideas to help motivate you and get you started on the break time habit, whether you have five minutes or a few hours.

1. Unplug and undo. Shut down all the electronic distractions. Computer, tablet, phone, all of it–anything that can ping or flash or catch your attention. Spend some time in the world or in your own mind.

2. Quiet the monkey. Doing too many things at once disperses your energy and creates a state of “monkey mind,” restlessly jumping from one branch to another. Take a quiet moment to be aware of your thoughts. Focus with full concentration on being still, at least for a few minutes, to go from restless to relaxed.

3. Look for shades of gray. Most of us view things as black and white, a habit that gets us charged up in ways that might not be good for us. Take a break and consider all the shades of gray in whatever is in front of you to prevent mistakes and rash decisions.

4. Take a mini vacation. Take a few hours off to clear your mind and de-stress by doing something you enjoy that relaxes you. A mini vacation can help you restore, regroup, and reassess.

5. Learn something new. Doing the same things over and over again every day can become daunting. Try something new. Take a cooking class, learn how to play the guitar, start practicing a new language–anything that takes you away from work and your computer.

6. Just be. Take a page out of the Taoist tradition, whose practitioners aim to live in simplicity (pu) and nonaction (wu eu), a state of simply being rather than constantly doing and achieving.

7. Find something to laugh about. If you don’t have anything in your day that’s been funny, think about a memory that makes you laugh or brings you joy. It’s hard to be negative when you’re laughing and smiling.

8. Create something. Build or paint or draw, put together a model or even a jigsaw puzzle. Do some of the things you normally wouldn’t do because you never have the time.

9. Monitor your thoughts. Monitor where your mind goes and learn to redirect your thoughts toward happier areas.

10. Get up close and personal. Take time to observe tiny details. Really look at something that you usually take for granted.

11. Make time to play. Focus on ways you can have fun and get re-energized. Whether it’s a solitary hike or dinner and a movie with friends, enjoy yourself.

12. Take a break from the news. The news is often filled with all kinds of depressing information. Do something enjoyable instead.

13. Try yoga. Give your mind a rest, your spirit a boost, and your body a good core and lengthening workout.

14. Go for a run. Get your body moving. Burn off your frustrations and be good to your heart.

15. Eat a meal without rushing. Don’t just scarf down your food at your desk in front of your computer. Eat a meal mindfully and gratefully, savoring every bite.

16. Ride a bike. Bring your own or grab one of the city bikes popping up everywhere. And take a ride.

17. Go to a museum. Take in the arts and become a little bit more cultured in a peaceful setting.

18.  Drink a cup of tea. Cut out the coffee that leaves you wired and drink an herbal tea that actually calms you down.

19. Spend time with your pet. Walking, cleaning, and feeding, or having a snuggle, spend time with an animal you love.

20. Journal time. Take the time to journal, even for a few moments. It’s a great way to process information.

21. Take a nap. If you can’t sleep at night, take a power nap. It’s good for the soul.

22. Daydream. Close your eyes and let your mind wander. Allow yourself to daydream about anything.

23. Color away. Get an adult (or kids’) coloring book and a set of crayons or pencils for instant stress relief.

24. Take a bath. There are few things in the world more relaxing than a hot bath.

25. Meditate. Meditation is one of the best tools to give yourself a mental and emotional break. Ten minutes of stillness can make all the difference. By clearing your mind and relaxing, you rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul.

26.  Have an adventure. Check out a part of town you’ve never been to, take a day trip to a local winery, or spend time reliving the happy memories at a special place.

27.  Listen to music. Music can lift your mood, regulate your energy, and take you back in time.

28. Count it down. We’ve all been so upset or frustrated at some point that we just felt like we wanted to explode. If you feel this point approaching, stop yourself and start counting until you’re back in control.

29. Stop worrying. Give yourself a break from worrying. The truth is, worry is a waste of time: It saps your energy, and it doesn’t make anything better.

30. Be quiet. Take a moment of silence to regain your calm center.

31. Don’t cast yourself as a victim. Don’t waste your time and energy on making yourself into a victim, because eventually you’ll become one. Let go of anger and wanting others to feel sorry for you.

32. Choose joy. Make the choice to be happy and you’ll live a much more joyful life.

33. Let go of something. It’s different for everybody, but you know what you need to turn loose of so something new can come in.

34. Change up the scenery. Take a drive, leave town, go someplace new. Give yourself something new to explore.

35. Stop complaining. Complaining drags you down, and you’ve got enough to deal with. Don’t let complaining consume you.

36. Eat something you love. When was the last time you allowed yourself to indulge in something that you love to eat? Treat yourself to something delicious.

37. Watch a sappy movie. Give yourself a quick pick-me-up by watching your favorite movie or even your favorite scenes. You’ll get a smile or a laugh or a cry and forget whatever was getting you down.

38. Get physical. Working out releases chemicals that give you a mood lift. Take a jog, play a sport, or just walk around the block to improve your outlook.

39. Dance up a storm. No one is watching, so put on your favorite song and lose yourself in movement.

40. Smile. Studies have shown that smiling (making the physical facial shapes and movements), whether it’s the result of real joy or just an act, can have both short- and long-term benefits on people’s well-being and health.

41. Leave work early. Commit yourself to working less instead of more by leaving the office early every once in a while–maybe even today!

42. Procrastinate to be productive. Sometimes it’s OK to put off something that can be left to another day–especially if you find you really need a break.

43. Just say no. If you’re truly unable or unwilling to say yes, go ahead and say no. Resolve to decline time-wasting distractions and seductive temptations. Say yes only to the good life.

44. Treat yourself. Indulge in a guilty pleasure that you have been denying yourself.

45. Concentrate on your breath. When things just seem to be too much to deal with, try concentrating on simply breathing. It will relax you, eliminate some of your anxiety and allow you to focus on more positive elements in your life.

46. Remove yourself from negative people. Even it means those you love–you can always re-engage tomorrow.

47. Let go of grudges. What was done is over and done. It can’t be changed now. Process your feelings and let go of any grudges, holding onto grudges is a waste of time.

48. Forgive someone. As soon as you read this, resolve to take the initiative to heal any breaches you have created. Don’t wait for an apology, because life becomes so much easier when you learn to accept an apology you never got.

49. Tell someone you love them. When was the last time you told those you love that you love them?

50. Engage in a small act of kindness. Kindness starts with you, and the kinder you are to others, the better you will feel about yourself.

51. Accept yourself. Sometimes we get so caught with how we think things should be that we don’t allow ourselves to accept ourselves for who we are. Give yourself a break and learn what it means to accept yourself and believe in yourself.

52. Find the turning point. There’s only one moment in time when it’s essential to take a break. That moment is now.


N A T I O N A L    B E S T S E L L E R


What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

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