Whether it's from work, between workout sets, or while someone is watching the kids. We all need a break. Here are 10 ideas to help you revitalise yourself the next time you can steal away a few short minutes.
There's no one-size-fits-all, you might have to try them all before you find one that works for you. Have fun experimenting and pay attention to the difference you feel. Perhaps to your physical energy, or mental, emotional or even spiritual.
Be sure to let me know in the comments below which one you found best.
Refuel your body and nourish your brain
You more than likely already know this one. But do you follow this simple principle consistently?
A healthy diet supports a healthy body, and ultimately a healthy mind.
Aim to keep optimal blood sugar levels by eating regularly. Small snacks or meals spaced evenly through the day can lead to noticeable better energy levels. These snacks should offer a balanced ratio of macronutrients. A mixture of carbohydrate, protein and healthy fats will work wonders for your body and brain.
You've been doing it all your life. You're probably good at it, right? Well, maybe not.
Everyone needs reminding, even those who already practise mindfulness and breathing exercises. Get into the habit of regular belly breathing. That is to say, where you're breathing from your abdomen and not just your upper chest. By breathing properly in this way, you can maximise the level of fresh oxygen reaching your bloodstream.
When we're stressed, or we're having to concentrate for long periods, we tend to hold our breath. This isn't noticeable at the time, mainly because we're busy focussing on something else. Similarly, we might also be taking only shallow breaths. In other words, we only use our throat and upper chest rather than all of our breathing muscles.
To get a feel for what I mean, try this. Place one hand on your belly button and the other hand on your upper chest. Notice which of your hands is moving more. Can you focus on the hand that's on your belly and get it to move by breathing deeply as if bringing the air down to your abdomen?
You can practise this any time and it only takes a mere moment. The next time you have a break, check-in and see how effectively you're using your lungs and diaphragm.
Connect with humanity
Humans are social creatures. Our brains light up when we're engaged in conversation with someone else.
Phone a friend, perhaps someone you haven't caught up with for a while. Text your partner or another family member. Contact a work colleague, maybe even a quick standing brief with your team to brainstorm and refocus.
Travel in your mind
Meditation, mindfulness, brain exercises - call it what you will. You can use your innate memory and imagination to supercharge your mind and body.
It might not take as long as you think.
- Sit in a comfortable chair, with both feet on the floor
- Ensure your lower back is supported, allowing your body to relax
- Roll your shoulders up, back and down and let them settle into your back
- Align your posture so that your shoulders are in line with your hips and your neck is neutral
- Lift your chest and think about your head being light and weightless
- Allow your hands to rest comfortably in your lap
- Notice any little pockets of tension currently in your muscles
- Close your eyes
- Become aware of your breathing
- With each exhalation, allow your tense muscles to relax
- It may take a few breaths, but let them go nice and loose and comfortable
- Now, bring to mind a time that you felt energised and invigorated - exhilarated even
- Visualise the scene, remember the sights, sounds, smells and feelings associated with it
- Continue to enjoy the 'movie' in your mind, replay it a few times
- Become aware of your surroundings again and allow yourself to come back to your day
Just get up and move around
Your body loves to move. Not even 'exercise', just movement. Getting up and about improves your circulation, digestion and even your brain biochemistry. You'll also notice a decrease in muscle tension and stiffness.
Ideally, you'll take a walk outside in the fresh air but just around the office is fine. Perhaps you can try some stretching at your workstation. Take a walk to the bathroom or water cooler, on another floor if possible.
Feeling stuck in a rut and lacking creativity? Pace out a figure of eight pattern on the floor. Walk the '8' over and over. You might be sceptical, but don't knock it till you've tried it!
Stay well hydrated
Yip, you've heard it all before. Two litres every day. Are you doing it though?
You'll come across lots of articles about whether it should be hot water, lukewarm or cold. Don't worry about any of that for now, just drink what you have access to. Tea, coffee and herbal teas can count towards your tally. However, not soft drinks, or fruit juice for that matter.
You may or may not have heard of a phenomenon known as 'osmotic pressure.' Concentrated fruit juices draw water out of your surrounding tissues and into your digestive system. Your body has to dilute it. These juices can also be high GI, so you might find a dip in concentration or 'crash' around 20 minutes later.
Laugh...it's good for the soul
You might be interested to know all about serotonin and endorphin levels. We could discuss studies into enhanced concentration and immune system responses brought about by laughter.
We don't need to though.
You already know everything you need to about laughing. You feel great afterwards.
That's why they call it "the best medicine" after all.
Choose a more positive mindset
Your outlook on life and, to a point, how you feel is up to you. Are your thoughts more on the optimistic or the pessimistic side?
Recognise the patterns and shift the balance if necessary.
Practise gratitude and count your blessings. Write a list of things you are truly grateful for.
You might light to construct a positive statement or affirmation, that you can repeat to yourself. In any case, be sure to focus on what you want now and in the future and not on what you don't want.
The power of positive thinking really cannot be overstated. Give it a go, it'll work.
Find an escape
Sometimes we just need to 'get away from it all.' If not possible physically, we certainly can mentally.
Take 5 minutes out and read something for pleasure. A magazine article, a few pages of a book, another blog post.
You might like to attempt a crossword puzzle or sudoku. Draw, or work on, a picture or cartoon. Get out your headphones and use music to escape.
My personal favourite - a few drops of essential oils in an ultrasonic diffuser with some music playing. Aromatherapy can be a wonderful escape route.
What's your overall purpose?
What are your goals, your values and your ambitions? Reconnect with them.
Remind yourself why you go to work, in this job. Why you do what you do. Remember the people in your life you hold dear to you - friends, partner and/or children.
Ask yourself if what you are currently doing honours your goals and values.
There's no right or wrong when it comes to values. We're all individuals and our goals, dreams and ambitions are as individual as we are.
A final note on reinvigorating yourself
If you aren't taking the time to feel refreshed and revitalised during the day, why not? Are you trying to work non-stop to impress someone, or to act as a distraction from other parts of your life?
We need balance, in all aspects of our lives. Ultimately, if you're set on accomplishing the impossible at work every day, you're boss will only add it to your regular duties.
Work on the most important project as a top priority - yourself.