Take a mental break

May 17, 2012 at 3:00 p.m. ET

Getting away from the daily grind doesn't have to mean a fancy, expensive vacation. You can reap health benefits by taking a mental break too. Here's how to get away without going away.

Stressed out

If you are constantly "on," your mind incessantly churning over your to-do list, and you're starting to feel a little burnt out, it's time to schedule a mental break. In fact, you would do well to take them on a regular basis. Here are a few ways to recharge by incorporating mental breaks into your routine.

Schedule light-workload days

If the type of work you do permits, plan days where all the tasks you complete are light in nature and don't require much concentration. Organize your files, or clean out your email folders. Send out invoices, and complete other clerical duties that must be done but that aren't too taxing on you mentally.

Go outside for a walk

If you find yourself chained to your desk from morning until night, force yourself to carve out time to take a brisk walk outside. The change of scenery and fresh air will help get you out of work mode, and studies have shown that greenery can actually lift your mood.

Fit in some exercise

When you can fit in more than just a walk outside in the middle of the day, get some exercise. Whether you work up a sweat doing some cardio, focus on breathing techniques and stretching in a yoga class or work off aggression through strength training, you'll be completely removing yourself from your work environment and releasing any stress and tension you've let build up in your neck and shoulders (or wherever you tend to store stress). Plus, you won't be distracted by your inbox filling up or available to answer your mobile phone when it rings with questions about your report.

Practice deep breathing and visualization

Find your happy place — even if you're still sitting at your office desk. Take a few minutes to close your eyes and take deep, even breaths. Picture those breaths cleansing your system while you visualize a place where you feel totally relaxed. Perhaps it's by the lake at the cottage; if so, envision the water lapping against the rocks, smell the food cooking on the BBQ and listen to the birds chirping and bees buzzing. When you open your eyes, you may find a sense of calm has come over you and your muscles are less tensed up.

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