What to Do When You Need a Brain Break


If there’s one thing I’m sure is not on your to-do list, it’s mind breaks. Our minds pretty much run all.day.long. Our brains are switched on about 2/3 of our life, not counting those sleepless nights where your brain can’t seem to turn off the cringey memories from middle school.

Having your brain on all the dang time gets overwhelming, and you probably find yourself saying “I just want to turn my brain off!!” Girl, I’m with ya. Unfortunately, there isn’t really a way to totally turn the old thinker off that doesn’t involve leaving in a jar.

When I start to get overwhelmed and overloaded with information, I have one surefire trick I like to try to calm my brain and get back in touch with reality…as in touch as I was to begin with.

Let’s calm that brain down!

Grounding Practice

Grounding is a great tool for anxiety, and you may not recognize that an overloaded brain is a form of mild anxiety. Not being able to “turn your brain off” is a sign of over worrying and anxious habits.

Grounding is just like the name, it helps ground you back to reality. I’m not a huge fan of mindfulness, because I feel it actually makes me focus too much on the matter at hand, when that’s the last thing I want to do. Grounding acts like a calming distraction.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Look around you and find five things you can touch. Make note of them or touch them without being conspicuous (example: your chair, water bottle, keyboard).

  2. Find four things you can see. Really take in the four things and burn the image into your mind. Take a few seconds to really look at each thing.

  3. Find three things you can hear in your current environment. This could be the hum of the computer, tapping your fingernails, the microwave running, etc. Focus on these sounds for a few seconds.

  4. Find one or two things you can smell. Feel free to physically smell them, or just imagine the smell. It could be something already in the air, or the imagined smell of the plant on your desk. Alternatively, imagine a pleasant smell you’ve always enjoyed (your grandmother’s perfume, the beach, firewood).

  5. Finally, find one thing you can taste. Like the smell, you don’t have to physically taste the item. Imagine tasting that muffin your desk neighbor has, or your yummy lunch later that day, or even the sticky notepad you have.

  6. Take a deep breath in for four counts and breathe it out deeply for six-eight counts.

Now does your brain feel like this?

Just writing that down made me feel calmer! Grounding is one of my favorite ways to calm my brain because it’s so effective, but is also very simple to do and no one notices what you’re doing!

It is just as helpful to imagine using your senses on the things you take in as actually using your senses on them. So, don’t get worried if you can’t find anything in your environment you can hear or taste (those are the tough ones!). You can always imagine sensing something that may not be physically with you.

If I’m particularly overwhelmed, I like to limit my grounding practice to only items in my environment. That may sound like it would be anxiety inducing, but pushing yourself to really focus on other things is a great distraction for the brain.

Even better, imagining myself tasting something silly like a whiteboard marker or say my sweatshirt makes me laugh a little to myself, and laughter is always, always good medicine.

So, take a minute and put “Grounding!” on your to-do list for the day. Your brain needs it.