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Brain Breaks: An Efficient Way to Refresh and Refocus

We strive to maximize productivity in work and life. But with the unrelenting stream of emails, obligations, and constant pings, it’s easy to get mentally stuck or, worse, just plain burned out. 

Our brains must work harder and faster to keep up with today’s lightning-fast pace. But the good news is that strategically placed brain breaks can make a big difference, helping to recharge your mind and get you back to your best self in no time. 

So, What Are Brain Breaks?

  • Brain breaks are intentionally short, planned mental breaks to refresh you throughout the hectic day.
  • Designed to momentarily redirect your mind from daily stressors, these breaks can keep your vibe productive, replenished, and focused.
  • They help rejuvenate and give you clarity when you’ve been stuck concentrating on one thing for too long.

How Brain Breaks Help You Refocus

  • Information is only retained when it first passes through the amygdala (the region of the brain that processes emotion) and then the prefrontal cortex. 
  • But when you get overwhelmed or anxious, that part of the brain gets overloaded, making it tricky to stay alert, focused, and creative.
  • Brain breaks work by re-energizing the parts of the brain blocked by copious amounts of stress or anxiety. 
  • Taking brain breaks calms the overstimulated amygdala. As a result, you can return to tasks with a refreshed mind, resulting in more productivity and focused attention.

How Often Should You Take Brain Breaks?

It’s best to take brain breaks when you start feeling as though you’re working hard, yet you’re stuck in the mud, and your wheels are spinning. This is often accompanied by feelings of stress, fatigue, inattention, or even boredom. We all know that feeling.

Keep in mind, brain breaks can be quick – typically only three to five minutes – so you can sprinkle them in as needed throughout your work day. Small investment. Big reward.

A Few Simple Ways to Take a Brain Break

Any quick, enjoyable activity can be a brain break if it allows you to momentarily relax and forget about work (and most importantly, yourself).

Here are a few ideas that you might consider adding to your daily routine to get started:


  • Bust out your old coloring book or a piece of paper and let your mind wander. A quick doodle will cool your noodle. It only takes a few minutes, and there’s no start or finish, so you can relax and zone out for a minute.
  • This mindful activity is a great way to revitalize your creative brain and redirect your thoughts away from the built-up stresses of the workday. 


  • Find a quiet space. Let go of all the little stresses. You can do a quick meditation while sitting on your chair, on a bed, or the floor. 
  • You only need five or ten minutes, but you can also go up to 30 minutes if you’ve got time to spare.
  • Guided meditation apps like Headspace and Aura can help. And this 5-minute guided meditation tutorial is also a simple introduction to the practice if you’ve never meditated before.


  • A quick yoga session is a great way to get your blood flowing and return to your center. Even a short 10-minute sitting can significantly reduce brain fog. 
  • Consider signing up for regular yoga classes at your local gym or studio. But you can also do simple stretches at your desk to relieve tension and fatigue. You don’t even need to get up from your chair.

Mindful Walking

  • Walking improves blood and oxygen flow to the brain, which helps you stay alert and refreshed. And walking outside gives you some much-needed fresh air and some light cardio. 
  • Just ten to 20 minutes of walking can be powerful. If you work from home, scheduling short walks throughout the day will ensure that you have a lot more to show for the day when it comes to a close.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

  • These short breathing exercises require you to breathe more deeply than normal, increasing the efficiency of your lungs and allowing you to breathe out your tension and anxiety.
  • Box breathing is another easy technique to try out. Here’s a helpful video from Sunnybrook Hospital that demonstrates proper technique. You can employ box breathing any time during the day when you need to calm yourself. It’s a great go-to quick stress reliever.

Cloud Gazing

  • You don’t always have to stimulate your brain during a brain break. Sometimes the perfect way to disengage is to do nothing and simply stare at the clouds for a few minutes. 
  • No equipment or materials needed. Just forget your worries, get in touch with nature, and replenish your brain power. 

Find Your Truth and Customize Your Antidote

We get it. It’s natural to want to perform at maximum capacity all the time. But overworking leads to burnout and impairs our ability to think clearly. Too often, we do more harm than good in our pursuit of perfection.

Ultimately, trust your gut and do what you enjoy most, whether it’s playing video games, loving on your pets, cooking, exercising, or laughing with friends. 

As long as your brain break activities allow you to prioritize yourself, you’re good to go. Experiment and find what works best for you.

Show your mind and body the respect they deserve.

They’ll return the favor.

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