It’s happened to all of us. Despite your best intentions, you’re staring at your computer screen, feeling like your brain is mush, and losing patience. You’re clearly in need of a break. But how should you spend your precious free time? As for the answer, that depends.

Breaks should be based on what you need right now. Do you feel sluggish? Are you craving some social interaction? Is your brain just in need of a complete escape? Throughout this post, we will explore a range of activities to recharge your batteries so you can return to work refreshed and ready to take on any task.

1. Go for a stroll.

Are you stuck at your desk all day? You can combat cabin fever by taking a refreshing walk!

In terms of your health and mood, it’s a win-win situation. Sunshine boosts vitamin D, and a change of scenery can lift your spirits. Even a short walk gets the blood flowing and clears the mind. You will feel energized, more creative, and ready to face anything at work.

Short on time? No worries. Consider eating lunch outdoors, opening a window for some fresh, or just simply doing a quick lap around the office.

Whenever possible, walk for at least three minutes every 30 – 60 minutes to reap the benefits of walking.

2. Take a run or complete a workout.

Are you feeling overwhelmed? If so, you might want to take a power break. Simply put, this is a brisk 15- to 30-minute workout instead of spending hours in the gym.

As you exercise, your body releases endorphins, a natural mood booster that burns off tension. Plus, you won’t have to squeeze a workout in before or after work since it can be scheduled during a break. As a result, you have more time to tackle other things or just relax.

In short, whenever you feel burnt out, lace up your shoes or grab your yoga mat – your mind and body will thank you!

3. Deskercise.

Prolonged sitting can lead to a variety of health issues, including muscle stiffness, poor posture, and decreased blood circulation. However, incorporating regular desk stretches into your daily routine can help alleviate these problems and improve your overall well-being, even when you can’t step outside.

There are various exercises available, such as oblique twists, desk planks, chair squats, and so on. You could also invest in a desk treadmill, under-desk bikes, or an elliptical.

4. Take a stairway to somewhere.

If you want a quick workout, skip the elevator and take the stairs. Why? In addition to improving cardiovascular health, taking the stairs regularly can strengthen lower body muscles and increase heart rate.

Additionally, it keeps you fit and burns calories, helping you maintain a healthy weight.

5. Avoid eating at your desk.

I know you have a lot on your plate, but seriously, ditch your desk during lunch. Apart from being gross, a change of scenery will really help you genuinely disconnect. As a result, you won’t find yourself checking emails or trapped in a work rut.

In general, taking a break from your daily routine can increase focus and productivity for the rest of the day. It can also assist in relieving stress and overwhelm.

6. Practice breathing exercises.

Is stress or overwhelm consuming you? Don’t give in to these feelings. Instead, take a mini-mindfulness break to escape the noise.

You should first find a quiet spot near you, like your car or a conference room that’s not in use. Next, spend a few minutes meditating or focusing on your breath. Doing this lets you clear your head and boost your focus when you return to work. This short break will make your approach to challenges more positive and calmer.

7. Progressive muscle relaxation.

By promoting deep relaxation in the body, muscle relaxation techniques can help reduce stress. Using conscious muscle tensing and releasing can help you release built-up tension and promote calm and well-being. As a result, physical symptoms of stress, such as muscle tension and headaches, may also be relieved.

8. Power nap (with caution).

If you have the time and access to a private space, a 15-minute power nap can be incredibly rejuvenating. A power nap can boost alertness, creativity, memory, and productivity, after all. In addition, it can reduce stress, improve mood, and provide a quick burst of energy.

Just make sure that you set an alarm to prevent oversleeping!

9. Learn something new.

Instead of scrolling through social media, do something more productive during your break. If you have a few minutes to spare, here are some ideas to enrich your life:

  • Explore your creativity. Whether you want to learn how to draw, knit, or sew, hundreds of tutorials are available online for free. Use your latest project during downtime for a quick burst of creativity.
  • Unleash your inner musician. Have you ever wanted to learn an instrument? For portability, guitars or flutes are excellent choices. While on your break, practice a few scales – a boost for your mood and a melody for your mind.
  • Go global. By learning a new language, you can expand your horizons. Learning a language using an app is easy because it offers free lessons for students of all levels — so you can practice during your breaks. Besides looking impressive on your resume, this valuable skill could be helpful in a bilingual workplace.

However, a new skill isn’t just fun, it’s good for your brain, as well. Developing cognitive skills and improving concentration are essential for mastering a new craft or instrument.

But the most important thing about learning something new is staying positive and fostering passion. As such, take advantage of your next work break to discover a new side of yourself.

10. Write down your thoughts.

Next time you feel stressed or overwhelmed, take some time for yourself and write your thoughts down in a notebook. If you have anything on your mind from your day, jot it down. This can include specific events, worries, or even hopes for the future.

Need a spark to get started? A journal prompt can guide you through a creative exercise or use it to jot down your feelings about what happened during the day.

11. Do brainteasers & puzzles.

In addition to sudoku and crossword puzzles, try logic puzzles, riddles, and brain teasers to keep your mind engaged and stimulated. These kinds of puzzles can help improve problem-solving skills and critical thinking. Additionally, they provide a refreshing break from screens.

12. Choose a chapter to read.

Taking a quick 15-minute break? Spend it reading a captivating book. It’s a great way to de-stress from work and develop fresh ideas. There is a world waiting to be explored within the pages of a book, whether you are looking to unwind with a thrilling novel or expand your knowledge with a fascinating non-fiction title.

13. Listen to a podcast or audiobook.

Want to spark your curiosity? If so, try listening to a thought-provoking podcast or an audiobook.

Podcasts provide a more comprehensive range of topics and perspectives, making them more likely to spark new interests and ideas. On the other hand, audiobooks can provide a deeper immersion into a particular subject, allowing listeners to explore a topic in greater depth.

14. Plan a trip to the movies.

In his book, Cal Newport, Georgetown professor and author, suggests stepping away from the grind to be more productive. By replacing the illusion of busyness with meaningful results, he focuses on “Slow Productivity.”

In order to increase productivity, you need to do less, work at your own pace, and prioritize quality. In Newport’s view, it is essential to respect your natural energy levels. You might schedule “focused hours” for deep work and block out days without meetings to accomplish this.

And that’s not all! Once a month, schedule a mid-day movie break, says Newport.

“In most office jobs, no one is going to notice if once every 30 days or so you’re gone for an afternoon,” Newport writes. “If someone asks where you were, just say you had a ‘personal appointment.’ Which is true.”

He adds that you should be thoughtful about it. Be sure to block out your calendar well in advance to avoid putting coworkers in a bind and avoiding missing an important meeting. In an unforeseen work emergency, you should be prepared to move your mini-break to a different day or week.

15. Planning your meals.

Use that time for yourself rather than preparing for meetings during your breaks and in particular, planning your meals for the next day or even week.

By planning your meals, you put yourself in charge. By choosing the menu, you control your diet and nutrition. As a bonus, you’ll also know precisely what to eat at what time for the week. By eliminating the daily “what’s for dinner?” scramble, you not only save time but also reduce stress.

Moreover, meal planning isn’t just about organization; it’s about having fun with your food. No matter what recipe you choose, the anticipation of a delicious, healthy, and home-cooked meal can be a great motivator.

16. Organize your schedule.

Did you know that you can also use breaks to finally take control of your time? How? Using a digital calendar app or a paper planner, you can plan your ideal schedule.

  • Brainstorm. Start by listing all the things you want to accomplish this week. In addition to errands, work projects, and personal goals, this brain dump can also include appointments.
  • Block it out. Review your commitments and fixed events, such as meetings and deadlines, and make sure you pencil them into your calendar first.
  • Get tentative. As for the other tasks, estimate their time and schedule them throughout the week. Since this is a tentative plan, it has some flexibility.
  • Review and revise. Each day, take some time during your lunch break to review your plan. Perhaps a priority has changed, or an unexpected task has arisen. Stay on top of your list, update your schedule accordingly, and keep yourself on track.

By following these steps, you’ll be more prepared for what lies ahead during your week. As a result, you won’t feel overwhelmed and will be able to stay on top of things.

17. Catch up with a colleague.

If you have downtime, strike up a conversation with a coworker — ideally about something unrelated to work.

If you want to start a conversation, you can ask them about their weekend plans or tell them a funny anecdote you heard recently. Another idea is to compliment their workspace or ask for recommendations on good books, movies, or sports. You can also break the ice by discussing common interests or hobbies.

18. Take a teammate out for coffee.

For effective collaboration and team cohesion, it is crucial to build strong relationships with teammates. Taking a teammate out for coffee is a great way to socialize and a change of scenery for both of you. This also fosters team trust and camaraderie by allowing informal conversations and getting to know one another on a more personal level.

19. Help a colleague out.

Helping coworkers with small tasks or running errands can improve workplace morale and teamwork. By showing support for your colleagues, you foster a sense of camaraderie and collaboration. As a result, team members are more likely to trust each other and cooperate with each other.

20. Give someone a call.

Make regular contact with family and friends a priority. After all, connecting with loved ones during breaks can reduce stress and loneliness at work.

Further, having a friend or family member listen to your day can alleviate stress, and their support can lift your spirits. In some cases, they may even be able to provide helpful advice or provide a welcome distraction.

21. Run errands or do chores.

Looking to maximize your time? You could use a break to get your errands done. Need groceries, dry cleaning, or a doctor’s appointment? Squeeze them in during your break to free up your weekends and evenings.

What if you work from home? Take care of a quick chore like laundry or dishes to stay on top of things. If you do this, you will return to work feeling refreshed and ready for the rest of the day.

22. Eat a snack to power up.

Keep healthy snacks on your desk, such as nuts, berries, or yogurt. These brain-boosting bites will give you a much-needed boost.

Additionally, incorporating healthy snacks into your diet can benefit your brain function and overall health. With these nutrient-rich options, you can stay focused throughout the day, improve your focus, and improve your cognitive health.

23. Practice gratitude.

Dopamine and serotonin, the brain’s neurotransmitters that help us feel happy and well-being, are increased by gratitude. You can cultivate a more positive outlook by focusing on and expressing gratitude for your positive experiences at work or during the day.

24. Get your smartphone organized.

Spend a few minutes deleting apps you rarely use, organizing your photos by event or date, and filing apps. You should also move any apps you use daily to the front of the screen.

When your front screen is clutter-free, and you only use apps daily, you will be more productive and save time. You can quickly and easily reach your most-used apps with no unnecessary icons. By following this streamlined approach, you can stay focused and organized all day long.

25. Declutter your workspace one drawer at a time.

Organize your desk by removing old gum, broken pens, unbent paper clips, and other junk you don’t use. You can create a more organized and efficient workspace by cleaning out your office drawers. This helps you find and access items quickly, saving you time.

In addition to helping improve focus and productivity, decluttering creates a clean and visually pleasing environment, which helps eliminate distractions.

26. Eye on the horizon.

Want to combat eye strain? Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

The 20-20-20 rule helps prevent eye strain caused by prolonged screen exposure. By focusing on something 20 feet away, the eye muscles relax and reduce the strain caused by prolonged staring at a screen. In addition to preventing dryness and fatigue in the eyes, this practice promotes good eye health in general.

Bonus tip: Avoid social media and work emails. Take this time to completely disconnect and recharge.

Final words of advice.

Don’t forget to take breaks; they are a sign of self-care and a recipe for long-term success. Whenever you feel burnout creeping in, take a break, recharge, and return to your work refreshed.


How do I know when I need a break?

  • Feeling overwhelmed or stressed? Are you having trouble focusing? There are signs that your mental tank is empty.
  • Are you experiencing physical discomfort, such as tight muscles, headaches, or eye strain? It’s time for your body to take a break from its position.

Shouldn’t I just power through it?

  • In the long run, breaks actually improve focus and productivity.
  • You can make better decisions if you take a break occasionally to avoid burnout.

What kind of breaks should I take?

  • Short & sweet (5-10 minutes). Take a walk, stretch, and do some deep breathing exercises.
  • Mental recharge (15-20 minutes). Listen to music, read a book, and chat with a colleague — preferably not work-related.
  • Refuel (30 minutes or more). Get away from your desk and enjoy a healthy lunch.

What are the benefits of breaks?

  • Sharpened focus. Ultimately, pushing yourself too far leads to burnout, not brilliance. Recharging and refocusing during short breaks allows you to tackle tasks more effectively.
  • Reduced stress. A well-timed break can make all the difference to your stress level. Taking a few minutes to relax will help you feel calmer and more collected when you return.
  • Boosted creativity. Are you stuck in a rut? It can do wonders for your creativity to change scenery. You might be surprised by the solutions that emerge when you step away from the problem and let your mind wander.

The most important point is that it goes against the popular narrative of long work hours. Researchers have found that taking breaks during work hours can help boost performance, not detract from it.

Can I take breaks if my company doesn’t have a break policy?

  • Federal law does not require breaks, but some states do. Make sure you know the labor laws in your state.
  • For productivity, short breaks are generally recommended. Consult your manager about setting break guidelines.

How can I make the most of my break?

  • Disconnect from work. This means avoiding work emails and phone calls.
  • Do something you enjoy. Your mind and body will be refreshed when you return to work.
  • Get some fresh air and sunlight. Get outside whenever you can. It is good for your health and your mind.

Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels