6 Mental Health Breaks You Can Do at Your Desk
Sometimes ruminating thoughts overrun our brains. You become obsessed with some event, thought, or emotion, and it runs over and over inside your head getting in the way of . . . everything else. It can feel like you have one foot on the gas and one on the brake, unable to go anywhere. Not the best way to feel when you’re at your desk with a memo due to your boss in an hour and your ideas don’t feel fresh.
If you are having trouble coming up with creative ideas, you need to take a mental break. And that doesn’t mean that you need to leave the office or find a yoga class. You just need to take a few minutes to change your mindset and believe in yourself and your project. After all, confidence is super important for Super Women, especially in the workplace. Confident interviewees have a leg up while job hunting. And once you have that job, bosses tend to assume that more confident employees are more competent as well.
The best part of taking a mental health break is that you can do it for free, with no equipment, and just a few minutes a day will reap huge benefits. You can even do practice meditating on your lunch break, or between projects at work. You don’t need to get down on the floor or say “om,”—simply start adding these moves to your routine today:
Strike a Pose
Researchers at Columbia University found that assuming a “power pose” for as little as two minutes makes people feel more confident and in control, and it even changes their hormone levels. A power pose is one that is expansive and takes up space—for example, standing with your hands on hips, chest out, and placing your feet shoulder-width apart. Try taking a power position before your next presentation or job interview; it’s a trick lots of boss Super Women swear by.
Cheer yourself on
Be your biggest cheerleader, and when things don’t go as planned, talk to yourself the way you would your best friend. I am pretty sure if she told you she made a mistake at work, you wouldn’t respond with “You never do anything right,” but that’s the kind of thing we often say to ourselves.
Start talking to yourself like you would someone you love (because you do, duh). In general, nix words like “always,” “never,” “worst,” “ever,” and other extremes from your inner monologue; they’re counterproductive and usually, well, wrong. Do you really always get lost? Are you really the worst at chess? If you take the time to think about it, you’ll realize that those extreme statements are rarely true. And if they aren’t, don’t put them out in the universe to become true.
Write down an empowering mantra
Years ago, I came up with my own mantra: “There will be time.” It’s a line from one of my favorite poems, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T. S. Eliot. I’ve said it over and over to myself a million times. Repeating my mantra to myself is a lot healthier than spouting some of my old favorite phrases, like “I’m so slammed I barely know my own name.” I used to wear my “booked solid” and “busy” badges of honor like they just came off the runway. If you’re still sporting yours, take them to Goodwill stat. Clear your mind like you would your closet, so you can go shopping for all the best new stuff.
Visualize your goals
Visualization is powerful—studies have found that imagining an activity activates the brain in a way similar to actually performing that activity. That’s why so many athletes use visualization to supercharge their performance. Do you want a career with longevity? A sick car? A sweet pad? Just a fresh idea for your memo? You do you, but decide what it is you want, and then close your eyes and picture it.
Donate to an important cause
Doing something good will make you feel good. When you feel good you will be inspired. Choose a cause that is near and dear to your heart and give some money away. After all, when you ace that memo, you’re one step closer to a promotion and then you’ll have more money in your pocket to save and donate.
Get those meditation stereotypes out of your head. Meditating can be as simple as focusing on the sound your co-worker’s keyboard makes as she types next to you. Focus on whatever, wherever, and whenever you want. The more you work your mental muscles, the stronger they will become.
Now that you’ve given yourself a break, the ideas will start flowing. After all, whether you think you can or you can’t finish that memo, you’re right. Now that you had a chance to clear your head, you definitely know you can. And I’m all for that way of thinking.
A version of this article was originally published on Vault.