Adult Brain Breaks

Posted on July 2nd, 2015 by Seth Nickinson

“Brain breaks” are a concept that has caught on in K-12 education, as a way to help keep students alert, re-invigorate the mind, and adapt to different learning styles.

Brain breaks for kids can include games, kinesthetic activities, and dancing to well-known songs. We want to encourage you to not be so age-focused: check out our brain breaks for students page, and get inspired.

But OK, you are a grown up. So what might your “brain breaks” be (beyond checking Facebook or playing Minesweeper – those are not true brain breaks!

headache statue

Image credit: Flickr user OpenDemocracy

1. Singing

(inspired by content on HelpGuide)

We all find ourselves humming or singing a tune when we are happy. Music has the ability to quickly shift our mood, affecting our subconscious mind where negative thoughts feed on our fears pile on to our stress.


Singing is one of the best ways to shift the patterns of thoughts. By helping slow and regulate breathing and promote relaxation, it can literally alter the hormones and cellular activity in our bodies. Most pop songs are just 2-3 minutes, the perfect amount to change your vibe.

So pick a song that you know is reliably calming or even happy-making for you, and make it part of your day. Sing in your car on the way to work. Sing in the bathroom. Sing on a 15-minute break. Or just sing at your work station if you can do it without disrupting others.

Want an even bigger effect? Join a choir. Group singing has been scientifically proven to lower stress, relieve anxiety, and elevate endorphinshumming

2. Mantras

A mantra is a simple syllable, word, or phrase repeated as a way of concentrating focus, relaxing the mind, and opening up personal growth. “Mantra” is mostly heard in reference to Indian spiritual practices – yoga, Hinduism, Buddhism – but they are more common than you think. Consider the visualization techniques that many athletes use, e.g. “Be the ball,” or even the famous phrase from the Little Engine That Could: “I Think I Can, I Think I Can”. Something like a single line from a Christian hymn, a favorite quote, or a single line from a song can be a mantra.

These are from Sirena at TinyBuddha, who shares how she uses them.

4 Simple Mantras to Help You Stay Positive and Happy.

  1. “Keep your head up and your heart open.”
  2. “Go slowly.”
  3. “Be easy.”
  4. “Let (YOUR NAME) be (YOUR NAME)”

So go ahead, pick a prayer or phrase that resonates with you, and add a mantra to your day.

3. Stretches

We have done a number of posts at Project ACT on stretching.

Animated, Humorous Stretch with Maximo

4. Kinesthetic Tasks

These are little tasks that don’t use your professional mind, but your sense of your body in space.

Finger Tips

  1. Stand up.
  2. Make an X with your arms out in front of you with your palms facing you. Keep your fingers up in the air. Lock your thumbs together.
  3. With your index finger on your right hand, try to touch each of the finger tips of your other hand, one by one.
  4. Now take your middle finger on your right hand and do the same thing and touch the finger tips of your other hand one by one.
  5. Do this same process for your ring finger and pinkie on your right hand.
  6. Now do the process for your left hand index, middle, ring and pinkie fingers.


  1. You may stand or remain seated for this activity.
  2. Move your right foot in a clockwise circle,
  3. Simultaneously, with your right pointer finger, write the number 6 in the air.
  4. Repeat this pattern several times and then switch to the other foot and hand.
  5. Try reversing the motions to counter-clockwise and the number 9.

5. Dancing

We can’t resist proposing dancing, because it’s such a helpful way to de-stress and clear your mind. It hits the body thing and the music thing.

You can go pop-culture like Michelle Obama and Ellen

Watch a bunch more dance favorites here.

You can rock an “Instant Recess” (a dance-meets-fitness hybrid)

or if you want to really dig in, you can try this instruction in a 10-minute “wave” from 5 Rhythms founder Gabrielle Roth.