Take a Positivity Break

Simple ways to shift your energy and lighten your mood

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Are you taking a break from something right now to read this article? Be honest — you may be doing it to distract yourself from something else you should be doing. No worries — we all do that!

Or maybe you are taking a break because you know that taking a break is actually good for you. Research tells us that short breaks in our day help us be more efficient, productive, and engaged in what we are doing.

Whatever the reason, if you are going to make the time for a break, why not make it a positive one?

What exactly is a positivity break?

It’s a break during which you consciously choose to focus on something upbeat, inspiring, funny, or simply something positive.

I love this idea for two reasons.

First, anything that shifts your perspective and focuses on something positive is a great idea. We spend way too much time thinking about what’s not working in our lives and far too little time reminding ourselves of our many blessings, large and small. Cultivating positivity is always a good thing.

The other reason I like the idea of a positivity break is that it sets the intention to shift your focus ahead of time. If I schedule a positivity break in my day, it means I am consciously choosing my attitude. This type of mindful attention to our actions can significantly impact how we experience our day.

So go ahead and set aside 10 minutes in your day. Make an appointment with yourself. Write it in ink so you won’t blow it off. Set the alarm on your device to remind you to take this pause. Then take that 10 minutes to do something that helps lift your mood and re-energize you.

Here are some ideas:

Look at a tree

We all know it’s good to take a break and go outside for a breath of fresh air. People have this quirky connection to nature that makes being outdoors, particularly around trees, a mood elevator. So, head outside and take a quick walk. If that doesn’t work for you, just looking at nature photos can also give you a mental boost. At the University of Michigan, researchers have found that looking at pleasing images of trees or other natural elements can have a more positive benefit than a walk down a busy city street. That might make you rethink the picture on your screen saver or what you have hanging on your office wall. If you can get outside amongst the greenery, go for it. If not, a beautiful image of some trees just might do the trick.

Photo by Jan Huber on Unsplash

Listen to some music

Music and mood are linked together. The music we are listening to in the moment changes how we look at the world. Play something upbeat, and you suddenly feel more energetic and optimistic. So take a break and tune into some music that creates energy in your body. Look for something that has a quick pace or bouncy beat that makes you want to move your body, whether you chair dance or actually get up and boogie. Or choose a song that has uplifting or empowering lyrics. Remember that music is personal, so take your break with your headphones on.

Express your gratitude

Instead of taking 10 to check what’s happening on social media, use the time to take a break and thank someone. Get up and find a co-worker who helped you or always brings a smile to the office. You don’t have to make a long speech — just a simple “I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate ______.” Or write a thank you note to leave on someone’s desk or even pop into the mail. Not only will you get a boost, but so will the person on the receiving end of your gratitude.

Drink water

Yes really. Hydration and mood are actually linked. That’s probably because our brain tissue is 85% water. If you are dehydrated, your brain can’t work at its best, and neither can the rest of your body. It only takes 2% dehydration before energy level, mood, and cognitive function are negatively impacted. Dehydration can also decrease serotonin, one of the neurochemicals which help regulate mood and increase the stress hormone cortisol. So take 10 and go fill up your water bottle.

Photo by Jordan Whitfield on Unsplash

Have 5 fingers of good stuff

I don’t mean a hefty pour of a good quality Scotch. Use a break to count on your fingers 5 good things that have happened today. Or 5 things you appreciate. Or 5 blessings in your life. Or 5 things that are going well. We usually spend time listing the stuff that irritates or annoys us. Or grumble about the things that went sideways, didn’t turn out, or didn’t get done. When we focus on what is working in our life, we shift our energy away from the negative towards the positive.

I’m a big fan of simple mindfulness techniques. That’s because we are more likely to make use of them. Try a positivity break right now and see what happens.