Here are a few small ways to take short mental health breaks throughout your day.
Meditation is incredibly accessible these days through a variety of apps or even a guided meditation through Youtube. Meditation helps clear your mind, thereby improving your ability to focus and concentrate throughout the rest of the day. It helps to set a reminder in the beginning to create this new habit for yourself.
Do a breathing exercise
Similar to meditation, something I often recommend, particularly to those who have anxiety or feel overwhelmed, is to do a quick breathing exercise. Similar to meditation, breathing exercises take only a few minutes. I often recommend working it in for a few minutes when you wake up, before you go to sleep, and at some point during the day. Once it becomes part of your routine, it becomes part of your toolbox and you can use it as needed in more stressful moments as well. Often people who don't connect with meditation are able to do this more easily. I recommend breathing in for 4 seconds, holding for 4 seconds, and out for 4 seconds. I also emphasize breathing slowly, from the diaphragm, and imagining filling up a balloon in your belly as you inhale, and letting the air out as you exhale. When we are stressed or anxious, we often hold our breath throughout the day or take short shallow breaths. Stopping to allow yourself to breathe slowly and deeply can change the way your entire body feels. Deep breathing creates both a mental and physical change.
Walk around the block
Walking is known to improve your mental health in addition to your physical health. It can boost your self-esteem and make you feel good about doing something good for yourself. Spending time outdoors, being around nature, has also been shown to improve mood and mental health. Changing location in general can help you feel better and allows you to reenergize to take on the rest of the day. A good way to implement this is to walk at the same time every day. It's easier than a full workout because it can take as little as ten minutes but still have enormous benefits.
Take a real lunch break
Many of us eat lunch at our desks while reading emails or checking through our work. It may give us the nutritional benefits but not much more. It's important to block off your schedule for even a half hour to be mindful and present while eating. It can boost productivity in the afternoon as well as release some stress.