At Your Wits' End & Need to Escape? Try These 7 Creative Out-of-the-Box Ways to Take a Mental Break by Dr. Bethany Cook Clinical Psychologist
We’re into a full year of the pandemic, and many of us are at our wits' end for what to do to get a mental break, especially parents. Many don’t have oodles of money, free space or extra energy to get creative in how to mentally feel better. Here are a few “outta' the box” ideas for how to get a mental break and feel refreshed, even if it's only for five or 10 minutes.
- Buy yourself a nice, large, juicy orange, put it into the refrigerator overnight and take it with you to the shower. Peel it, smell it, eat it. Squeeze the skin on your face and smell the beautiful scents.
- Listen to a lush classical piece of music the entire way through, with earphones on, so there is nothing between you and the music. I suggest classical music because we often don’t have strong associations or memories with these pieces of music. Allow yourself to sit or lay in a comfortable spot, close your eyes and allow the music to take you on a mental journey. Obviously, if listening to classical music sets you off, pick anything you enjoy. Just set aside time to listen.
- Overwhelm your taste buds with a simple, easy treat. Take a small microwaveable bowl and add a few spoonfuls of peanut butter/almond butter/cashew butter, add two to three squares of dark chocolate throughout the bowl and lightly sprinkle some sea salt on top. Place the bowl in the microwave for 15 to 20 seconds, just long enough to melt the chocolate. Slowly drag your spoon through peanut butter, grabbing some chocolate on the way.
- Surprise your tongue! This one you will need a partner (or more than one). Have a “taste test” with shot-sized portions of a variety of beverages. Lemon juice, pickle juice, prune juice, Dr. Pepper, Sprite, cold coffee, vodka, Monster drink, etc. On a sheet of paper, write the number of glasses. Cut them up, fold them over and put them in a bowl to draw from. Then do the same thing, but this time, don’t fold them; randomly place one in front of each glass. During your turn, wear a blindfold and pull a number from the bowl. The other person hands you the corresponding shot, and you have to guess what it is. The person with the most correct identifications at the end wins.
- Run yourself a nice hot bath and grab a bucket of ice cubes. Find your sore spots and hold an ice cube there until it melts. Not only is this a shock to your body and brain, but it also may help heal sore muscles. Play some calming music and burn some candles, if possible.
- Order a self-care kit for you or someone you love. Immerse yourself in another culture by ordering an assortment of foods from other countries, or if you're more of a snacker, get yourself some fun snacks! If you have some extra cash and want to go lush, try the chocolate meditation collection from Vosges Chocolates. Or make up your own! This is about finding a way to make the ordinary “extra.”
- Get in touch with a childhood hobby/activity or begin a new one. YouTube has made it easy to teach yourself skills. Hell, my wife just taught herself how to patch a huge crack in our 100-plus-year-old Victorian cedar beach house, just by watching YouTube. I’m getting back to playing the piano for pleasure. What did you love? Model airplanes? Paper airplanes are cheaper, so look up some online origami and reconnect to a childhood dream.
I know we all could use a month’s vacation and mental break from the realities of life. However, since most of us can’t take a month off from our lives, we need to learn how to harness the power of our minds and find ways to grab mini mental vacations whenever possible. Taking five to 10 minutes doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but it may help make a big difference.
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