Need a brain break?

by Samantha Bohrt, MPH, MCHES(r)
Health Coach -- Community Wellness
Methodist Health System


Have you ever found yourself working through lunch or putting off a much-needed break and then suddenly realizing that hours have gone by? With busy schedules and so many tasks to accomplish during the workday, we’re often tempted to skip any breaks and work straight through. However, it’s important to remember that while our brains are wonderful at interpreting information, they are not so great at communicating mental fatigue. Instead, what happens is that you become irritable, lose motivation, or develop a headache. This is your brain’s way of letting you know it’s had enough.

Tired brain = burnout

We know that brain fatigue interferes with our productivity and leads to feeling unsatisfied and burned out, yet we often fail to intervene proactively. We may even feel guilty about taking a break and worry about how others will perceive it. Even when we find the time, we may not always use it in a way that benefits us — often spending our breaks on our phones or worrying about the next big task instead of giving ourselves time to recharge. It’s important to prioritize your break and decide how you’re going to make the most out of the time you have. The next time you decide to take a break, use these ideas to make it count so it truly gives your brain a fresh start:

  • Read something motivational. It may be easy to get sucked into the worries and responsibilities of the day, but you can give yourself a real boost by focusing on how your work is connected to a greater mission and how valuable your contributions truly are.
  • Look through pictures of loved ones. Allow yourself time to experience positive emotions. It’s an easy way to give your brain a break and keep mental fatigue at bay. 
  • This could mean focusing on your breathing, doing a short visualization exercise, or taking a quick body scan. Whatever you choose, just a few minutes meditating can help you refocus and reinvigorate your brain.
  • Go for a walk. Movement can be a type of meditation. When you engage in the movement, allow yourself to detach from the day’s demands, and focus on the present moment.
  • Enjoy the great outdoors. Spend time outside, which will provide a break simply by changing your surroundings. It also has the added benefit of boosting your production of feel-good hormones.
  • Listen to music you love. Music has the ability to affect our mood and stress response. Spending time listening to some of your favorite music can help reenergize you and prepare you for the day ahead.
  • Practice gratitude. Whether you spend time journaling about the things you’re grateful for or messaging a loved one to let them know you’re thinking of them, find time to practice gratitude. It will remind you of the positives and help put the everyday stresses into perspective.

If you’re looking for an organization that is committed to the health and well-being of its employees, take a look at Methodist Health System. Visit us at

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