While physical recovery is mainly aimed at the tangible body, mental rest and recharge is concerned with allowing the rational, thinking part of your brain an occasional rest and recharge. Here, activating the relaxation response means training your thinking mind (often nicknamed ‘the monkey mind’) to reduce brain wave frequency.
While taking a break, engage in a non-mental activity
- For example, drink a cup of tea or coffee slowly and mindfully, enjoying every sip, without reading the paper or checking anything. Just enjoy your time with your cup.
- Take a short break to listen to some music you love, whatever makes you feel good or helps you calm down.
Give your eyes a break and stare out the window
Eyes are the only external part of your brain, and they are hard at work the whole day, concentrating on the object of your work.
- Give your eyes a break by gazing out the window without focusing on anything in particular.
- Feel the tiny muscles under the eye relax.
- Gradually allow your vision to expand, taking in a wider angle from right to left. Keep your gaze diffused (not focused).
- Allow your thoughts to roam freely; simply keep your gaze non-focused and your face muscles relaxed.
Take a short breathwork or meditation break
Focusing on your breath for a few minutes or following a short, guided meditation can do wonders for a tired brain. Both methods help reduce brain wave frequency and restore mental calm.
- If you’re unfamiliar with such exercises, try a guided breathing session such as this one (1 min) or this one (3 min).
- Or try a short, guided meditation such as this one (3 min) or this one (5 min).
- You may want to explore the many popular apps for meditation, breathing and mindfulness, such as Headspace; Calm; Stop, Breathe and Think; or Insight Timer (the latter is free). They all offer free trial sessions, so you can experiment before committing yourself.
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