Sometimes, when we’re facing significant concerns or worries, we become so consumed by them that we find ourselves in desperate need of a mental break.

At times like this, we may end up defaulting to activities that are ultimately not very satisfying or replenishing, such as scrolling through our social media feeds or playing video games much longer than we intended.  Often, mental breaks such as these do not necessarily refresh or recharge us for coming back to effectively dealing with our problems. In fact, they may sometimes leave us feeling more drained and exhausted than before, not less.

With that said, I’m curious: what might a real brain break look like for you during challenging times? What activities would allow you to set aside your concerns and worries for a time to engage in something you find enjoyable that focuses and replenishes your mental energy?  What activities might give you a much-needed sense of control in driving something solvable to the finish line? Here are a few possibilities to consider:

How about learning to solve a Rubik’s Cube, building a jigsaw puzzle, driving through a crossword puzzle, creating art with a paint-by-numbers kit, or diving into a cross-stitch project? What other possibilities come to mind?

Let’s take a closer look at how one of these brain break activities made all the difference for one individual. One young man I know who experienced a devastating personal tragedy had so much to process mentally and emotionally that he could hardly give his brain a break. It was a real struggle for him until a good friend gave him a Rubik’s Cube, challenging him to solve it.  

The young man said that playing with the Rubik’s Cube was just the escape he needed at times, a real lifesaver. Working to solve it demanded his full attention. It allowed him a reprieve from some nearly inescapable heartache, pain, and worries and helped him to come back to his challenges, feeling a bit better and with more energy and focus.   

When you think of the challenges you may be currently facing, and your need to sometimes take a break from it all, what activities might work best for you? Brainstorm a list of possible brain breaks, and then add those brain breaks to your self-care toolkit, so they’ll be there for you when you need them. Take care of yourself. You’re likely to feel better if you do.