50 ways to take a break


When our lives are busy and we’re actively taking care of others, we can sometimes forget about the possibility of taking a break. Often, too, the longer it’s been since we’ve taken time for ourselves, the more foreign and unfamiliar this idea can seem. I think there’s a certain art to taking breaks—an art form that’s worth dusting off and reconnecting with!

It helps to begin by identifying activities that feel restorative and rejuvenating before the moment when we’re hoping to act on them. By doing this, we can more easily step into our break when the time comes, without having to first generate an idea.

The sorts of break activities that work best are usually those that feel like the opposite of what we’ve been doing too much of:

  • if we’ve been sitting inside at a computer, we need to get moving outside;
  • if we’ve been doing physical labor, we need rest;
  • if we feel inundated with mundane details or the heaviness of life’s suffering, we need to take in something inspiring and fresh.

The image above offers a visual stroll through 50 ways to take a break. Use this as an inspiration to create your own list of possibilities and experiment a bit to see what best supports you. You can print out your own or purchase a poster.

Karen Horneffer-Ginter, Ph.D. is the author of Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit.

Karen Horneffer-Ginter has been practicing psychology and teaching yoga and contemplative practices for over 16 years. She has also taught graduate students and health care professionals, along with directing a university-based holistic health care program, and co-founding the Center for Psychotherapy and Wellness in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The aim of Karen's work is to reconnect people with the wisdom of their inner-life by reclaiming what gets lost amidst the busyness of day-to-day life: qualities such as stillness, self-care, creativity, joy, humor, gratitude, and compassion. Her intention is to support people in finding a sense of balance and sacredness in their lives.

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  1. I wish to take a trip and change my surroundings for a few days without feeling guilty about doing so. If I could just give my house a “refresh” by painting the exterior and the interior, that would boost my spirit. It hasn’t been done in 25+ years. I make greeting cards but have little space to craft in so I tend to avoid the storage space where my paper and things are kept.

    • A fresh coat of paint makes such a big difference! It’s a nuisance to do it, but it does really make a space feel fresh and bright. Rearranging things is a great way to make being stuck at home a little bit easier.

  2. Sewing and quilting is therapeutic for me. I invite a couple of sewing friends over and we sew all day. They are fine with my situation and take all the goings on in stride. My husband enjoys the activity in the house. My friends are also caregivers but can leave the house more. We all benefit. My husband sees me enjoying myself so he feels less guilt about being a burden. My mother, who lives with us, sometimes visits with the ladies. It’s very restful.

  3. This is my biggest wish, just to get a break, get out of town, go more than 2 miles to get groceries or the Dr. Have a friend.


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