100 Creative Ways to Take a Break

100 Creative Ways to Take a Break

Some of us don’t need to be told to take a break, because the act of not working is second nature. I would venture that being productive, in fact, is the break from our natural inclinations, though this idea hasn’t quite caught on yet.

Others, however, do need to be told – and in a hundred different ways. Here they are: the short and  long, bizarre and bleeding obvious, mindless and actually a bit challenging. All in a snazzy list – how wonderful.

  1. Siesta time: Though popularly associated with Spanish-speaking countries, the midday kip is traditional to many hot climate cultures and serves as a natural coping mechanism to the most strenuous part of the day. There’s no reason however, why we shouldn’t adopt it over here – not only is it the perfect antidote to work-related stress, but is widely acknowledged to have rejuvenating qualities.[i]
  2. Immerse yourself in nature: Not everyone has a garden, or immediate access to acres of sprawling woodland, but it’s always worth seeking out the green spaces near you – whether they are a walk, cycle, or bus ride away. The health benefits are numerous, with nature’s stress, anxiety and depression relieving qualities commonly cited[ii], not to mention the opportunity for exercise and a bit of wildlife spotting.
  3. Stretch! An effortless and easy way to incorporate break is the humble stretch. While good posture will save you a lot of grief in the long run, it’s also important to shake some life back into those dormant muscles from time to time. Reach to the sky! Touch your toes! Roll back your shoulders! Just get off your bum.
  4. Snack! (healthily): Breaks are associated with habitual behaviours, with snacking among the most instinctive. While eating between meals has gotten a bad rep, it can be essential to maintaining energy levels over the course of a demanding day. The trick is to substitute high sugar and fat foods with healthier, more filling alternatives such as fruit with natural sugars, filling the void whilst still providing a nice little reward.
  5. Pop on the tunes: Possibly the greatest pick-me-up that isn’t food. Whether it’s K-pop or grindcore, you owe it to yourself to throw on the bangers.
  6. Breathe: Most doctors would advise you do this already. If you forget though, it goes like this: inhale… two…three… four… and exhale… two… three… four. If you did it that way you should actually be a wee bit calmer.
  7. Move really slowly: This one is a bit less conventional, but no less valid. Used in practice by renowned performance artist Marina Abramović, this exercise can be carried out anywhere with enough walking space and simply involves travelling from A to B as slowly as possible. A surprising – although initially patience-testing – way to become more aware of your body and surroundings.
  8. Care for a creature: If you have the space, time, energy and resources for adopting an animal, then it is absolutely worth considering. Dogs can be a bit of a fuss, though, so there’s no shame in going for something a bit more low-maintenance, like a tortoise (they sleep though a good part of the year) or tank of stick insects.
  9. Sports: From ping-pong to mud-wrestling to cheese-rolling, the word ‘sport’ encompasses such an extreme diversity of activities that you really are spoilt for choice. My personal favourite is chess-boxing, a game truly for the body and mind.
  10. Put down your thoughts to paper: We all have many thoughts that we don’t really know what to do with, and there’s no better place for them than the page.
  11. Learn an instrument: This possibly won’t feel like a break at first, but don’t be discouraged – the little victories will make it all worthwhile. And if guitar, piano or trumpet is not working out for you, well, you can always get one of those wooden frogs that croak when you scrape their back with the stick. They’re pretty neat.
  12. Learn a language: There are over 7,000 languages in current use, however, I would start with learning just one. C’est amusant!
  13. Go for a run: A way to produce natural endorphins along with reams of health benefits. It turns out you really can run away from your problems.
  14. Read a book: It doesn’t need to be Crime and Punishment or Anna Karenina. Plenty of good books are very accessible and kind to the reading-adverse: scan your local bookshop or library for a healthy selection, and if you need, acquire the assistance of one of the mousey assistants who will chat you up about their favourite picks for days. I’m pretty sure they live there.
  15. Switch off: Prolonged screen-time causes eye-strain, neck-pain and tiredness, so use your breaks to do just about anything else and you will feel all the better for it.
  16. Meditate: There are many ways to meditate. Really, lots. Lots of them. I can’t list them all. You have to take my word for it.
  17. Feed the birds: You don’t realise how many birds there are until you start feeding them. Now I’m afraid to go outside…
  18. Phone a friend: Not only a lifeline in Who Wants to be a Millionaire? but a thing you can do in real life. Tell them about your day! Just make sure it’s not their bedtime.
  19. Explore your local area: It’s true that we rarely appreciate things on our doorstep, or even know they’re there. Being a local tourist is not only cheap, but occasionally very enlightening.
  20. Write for fun: While it’s potentially true that everyone has a novel in them, you should probably start with a short story. Writing can be a lot of fun when you let go of all inhibitions; anything you plop onto the page is valid, and nobody is going to judge you for it – I promise.
  21. Water plants: They can be house plants or the scraggly flowers you are desperately trying to cultivate in your garden. Seeing them flourish is an easy boost for your mental health. [iii]
  22. Tidy up: It might seem like more work, but actually clearing living and working spaces can be the right kind of distraction, inviting tranquillity and order into your world.
  23. Punch: It can be a punching bag, the air, or anything else appropriate for hitting. The perfect way to expend some of those pent-up feelings.
  24. Dance: You don’t need a lot of space, just the will to boogie. Oh yeah.
  25. Become an animal: If you are bored with being a person, try being an animal. I often find myself being a sloth, which is very enriching.
  26. Read poetry: Poetry is so much more interesting and enjoyable than your schooling would have you believe. Check out Poetry Foundation for a comprehensive run down of some of the best from every era. Sylvia Plath will knock your teeth out (in a good way).
  27. Look at the sky: Watch the clouds roll by, and imagine what it’s like to be so light, fluffy and aimless.
  28. Plan the next big adventure: Planning a holiday can be less stressful than actually embarking on it, and is enjoyable in its own way. The possibilities are endless!
  29. Volunteer: If your free time is leaving you feeling unfulfilled, why not use if for a good cause? There is usually an abundance of volunteer opportunities in cities, with many online programs too.
  30. Put your feet up: Oh, this is a break? I thought it was a lifestyle. Of course, elevating our feet has numerous health benefits [iv] as well as just feeling good, which is the main reason you’ll be doing it.
  31. Practice astronomy: No better antidote to the stuffy, artificially lit indoors than stargazing, a hobby and field of interest that harks back to the dawn of civilisation.
  32. Get politically involved!: Few things are more demotivating than having an awful government that messes up everything. While overthrowing them may be challenging, we common folk still have the ability to change things on a smaller scale by protesting, spreading awareness in our immediate circle or taking part in a campaign. While not ‘relaxing’ in the conventional sense, these activities are certainly a break from the helplessness that underpins our usual engagement with politics.
  33. Read to someone else: A far less ambitious, but nonetheless impactful change is reading to somebody. The benefits to children are clear, but other demographics – the elderly or those trying to learn English– are easily overlooked. I would advise not doing this to random people, however, unless you want to be reading from the A&E.
  34. Tend the garden: If you have a patch of green to call your own, it’s worth sprucing it up a bit. A beloved pastime of Henry VIII, when he wasn’t executing his wives or silencing dissenters.
  35. Get creative with your cooking: Spice it up in the kitchen by making something you didn’t even know existed until a few moments ago.
  36. Listen to a podcast or audiobook: If you find reading more wearisome than relaxing you should try listening, a highly underrated skill in today’s noisy world. Nowadays there’s no limit of audiobooks or niche podcasts to pop on while you occupy yourself with something else, or simply do nothing.
  37. Go birdwatching: There is no greater satisfaction to be found in life than knowing the difference between a dunnock and a house sparrow.
  38. Swim: A traditional leisurely activity that gets you using all sorts of muscles. Also the closest you’ll get to achieving your secret aspiration of being a fish.
  39. Learn art or calligraphy: As hobbies go, art does not have to be that expensive: a pencil and sketchpad will do, or you can whack out the watercolours. Calligraphy is another option for those who would like to write
  40. Interior decorate: Before tidying up your life you should start with your living space. Adding little flourishes here and there can also bolster your mood in subtle ways. Make it pretty!
  41. Laugh at yourself: It feels good to not take yourself too seriously. Look at you: bloody ridiculous.
  42. Find out your local history: A great way to give you a fresh perspective on your area and ground you to the past. The countries forming the UK are pretty old so there is no shortage of interesting heritage to uncover.
  43. Sew worn clothes: Rather than throwing away garments that accrue holes, why not pretend you are a cottage-stricken grandma in the 19th century and mend them? Not only is it more resourceful, saving time and avoiding needless waste, but the act itself is pretty satisfying and therapeutic. No wonder generations of downtrodden housewives were so fond of it.
  44. Look into your ancestry: Did you know that your great uncle played Toto from The Wizard of Oz? Truly an underrated actor.
  45. Contact family or old friends: Oh, you’ve been meaning to do it. Now you have a spare moment, there’s no excuse.
  46. Write a letter: Dearest Theobald. By the time your eyes grace this hastily produced missive, I will have announced my arrival at your doorstep with a ‘couple of cold ones’. Why, you ask, did I expend my energy in sending you this message? I liked writing ‘couple of cold ones’ in pen and ink. Ah yes. Couple of cold ones.
  47. Be aware of your own body: Unless you are a ghost or other non-material being, it can be valuable to use downtime as a way of getting back in touch with your body. Toes, hello? Are you there? Just checking in.
  48. Take a bath: An absolute classic.
  49. Play a puzzle game: You may interpret this as Tetris, the weekly sudoku or even the humble jigsaw kicking about in your cupboard. The great thing about puzzles is they offer complete detachment from the complex human problems of the real world. Also extreme levels of frustration.
  50. Make a sculpture: Sculptures, rather than being plopped into galleries fully-formed, are the product of many tiny constructions or chippings. The process is only as arduous as the artist desires – who says you can’t work on one over a few lunch breaks? Nor do you need to splash out on costly materials in order to make a masterpiece: anything that can be moulded is fair game. I personally like sculpting my neighbours into flamenco poses whenever they fall asleep on their front lawns, gradually imbuing them with an inexplicable desire for paella.
  51. Get rid of the junk: God knows you have a lot of it. Nothing can be quite so liberating as saying bon voyage to that tacky coaster set from three Christmases ago.
  52. Watch a short film: Outside of the major streaming services, many independent short films can be found online for free. This offers something a bit different without the time investment of a full-length film, and while you could spend an eternity flicking through obscure film dissertations, there are a number of classics that no enthusiast should miss. To this day I still wince in horror at the opening of Un Chien Andalou.
  53. Make lists: Lists, while great for productivity, are rather underrated as a recreational activity. You can truly make a list on anything; I like listing off all the things I would like to achieve, and then throwing it in the bin.
  54. Do nothing: Absolutely nothing. The more nothing, the better.
  55. Strut around town: It is a common misconception that you must go to town for a reasone for shopping, for lunch. No, no. You were born with the wonderful ability to strut – go use it. The city centre is your catwalk.
  56. Take in nice smells: Floral, fragrant, zesty, spicy and smoky smells have a way of transporting us from our often drab environments to foreign lands.
  57. Hydrate: While it may be a myth that you need to drink 6-8 glasses a day, it’s still important to always have some water on hand, and to listen to your body. Unless your body is saying some very unsavoury things.
  58. Scream: Scream therapy is not a modern fad but a long-established practice designed to clear your throat and mind. Indeed, there is a lot to scream about.
  59. Push-ups: A blood-pumping, circulating-flowing exercise you can do nearly anywhere, which, after a bit of practice, will have you feeling unstoppable.
  60. Study the London Underground Map: Hours will fly by.
  61. Appreciate some art: With some of the most recognizable museums and galleries offering their collections for free online, you won’t need to take time out to visit Tate or MoMA to become cultured and sophisticated.
  62. Groom yourself: Make yourself pretty, because you deserve it.
  63. Fly a kite: In the spirit of Mary Poppins, or, more fittingly, China where they were first flown over two thousand years ago, why not bring out a kite? Well, if it’s not windy – I guess that would be a reason.
  64. Write to your local-elected official: No doubt you are frustrated about something politically, or perhaps just hate your local council. If so, why not let them know in a strongly (appropriately) worded letter? You’ll be really chuffed with yourself afterwards.
  65. Still-life drawing: Start with some fair trade bananas and go from there. You’ll catch up to Van Gogh in no time (that’s pronounced fun Khokh. Yes, you’ve been botching it).
  66. Embrace total darkness: Rather than fighting against nature with a fusillade of bright lights, we should welcome natural darkness which keeps our body clocks in check and allows us to wind down nice and proper at the end of the day. If you need a dark retreat before then, however, you can always climb into a spare cupboard and close the door. If you want, you can even do some ghostly noises whenever somebody passes.
  67. Daydream: Crazily enough this has been found to boost productivity, but that should be the least of your reasons for doing it. Letting the mind wander is the purest, simplest pleasure we can attain and is a useful way to come up with creative ideas or solutions.
  68. Massage your feet: With such a high concentration of nerve endings on our feet – as much as 200,000 per sole – it’s no wonder we vividly associate them with pain and comfort. The latter does not a require professional masseur though, as massaging your own feet is not only very possible but quite nice.
  69. View memes: Otherwise known as the only real way to take a break.
  70. Put your legs against the wall: A very different way to put your feet up, but nonetheless quite relaxing and good for muscles, digestion, blood pressure and stress.[v]
  71. Paint your nails, face or any other part of your body: The body is a great canvas, as long as you aren’t tattooing your eyeballs.
  72. Say the word ‘groovy’ out loud: I guarantee you, you will feel groovy.
  73. Run a snail race: Before all of this fancy ‘technology’ there were snails and before F1 there was the snail race. Take delight in this primitive pleasure. Look at ‘em go!
  74. Watch an old cartoon: Whisk yourself back to a simpler time when escapism meant anthropomorphic animals committing unspeakable violence against each other.
  75. Make a smoothie: A smoothie can be made with anything, as long as you have a blender or food processor. A good smoothie is healthy, refreshing, and smooth. Smooth as hell.
  76. Sing, hum, whistle: Anything that jolts the lungs, an organ that can too easily become underutilised when working from home. Imagine you are the star of a slightly lacklustre musical.
  77. Give yourself a pat on the back: You deserve it.
  78. Practice your accents and impersonations: This will make you popular at parties. Or very unpopular.
  79. Origami: This timeless art will bring out the playful spirit within you. Just look at my penguin!
  80. Build a rock garden: Quirky, cute and strangely uplifting: the rock garden is a great project to tend to for a bit of zoning out.
  81. Revisit childhood memories: Ah yes, the blast from the past, an effective way of jettisoning your very adult worries. This can be achieved through any sort of stimuli: old recipes, the long-outdated media of yore, soft toys you’ve reluctantly kept – even smells. I personally find myself whisked back by the aroma of marzipan.
  82. Orchestrate your perfect outfit: Nobody is above a bit of dressing up and planning the ideal look can be just as fun as parading it around town.
  83. Doodle: It doesn’t have to be a work of art. The perks of the doodle are that it requires no skill, no commitment, is made for no one and achieves a wonderful level of eff all.
  84. Yodel: Quite separate from singing, this wonderful noisemaking act is a great release from the stresses of the day. It takes a bit of practice to not sound like a upset mountain goat, though.
  85. Learn a new fact: The scale of the world’s history is pretty hard to compute, but thankfully in this age of information we can have it broken down to teensy little pieces.
  86. Rub lotion into your hands, limbs and joints: Skin, like the people who have it, can become, tired, rough and irritated after a long day, so treat it well with moisturising and replenishing lotions.
  87. Laugh, for no reason: You’ve laughed at yourself, now laugh at the silliness of everything.
  88. Bake: It’s easy to be drawn into the baking craze that has swept Britain over the past decade. It would seem that no quiche or blueberry muffin can be produced now without the spectral presence of Paul Hollywood and his grunts of Northern apathy materialising above the tray, but the reality is nobody really cares how overdone your crust is. Do it for fun.
  89. Put nice things in your calendar: Calendars are horrible and stressful – but they don’t have to be. Sprinkle some good stuff in there.
  90. Stretch and shake your hands: Avoid cramps, aches and carpal tunnel by using your break as an opportunity to put some life back into those fingers. Jazz hands are highly effective in this regard.
  91. Break something: Perhaps this is being a bit too literal…
  92. Attempt a Rubik’s cube: Truly frustrating, but occasionally transcendental. Well, spinning the cube around is fun, at least.
  93. Be still: Once you’ve exhausted moving slowly, you can try not moving at all. Let things move without you: the earth spinning on its axis and tearing round the sun, the Milky Way crawling through the Universe.
  94. Smile: Things will be marginally better.
  95. Put your worries into a song: A creative way to deal with things that are bugging you, if you aren’t too self-conscious. Incorporate yodelling for an added artistic touch.
  96. Peruse Wikipedia on a random subject: Wikipedia has over 6 million articles. You’ve likely read 5 million of those already, but there’s always an obscure subject or slightly forgotten figure to keep your insatiable curiosity fed. Wiki Roulette is a good website for flinging you onto a random page – I’ve already learnt so much about the Ugandan railway service.

  1. Cut your hair short: Take a break from the oppression of constant haircare and the expectations of society by rocking a low-maintenance cut. The act of shearing off your locks can be pretty liberating!
  2. Cycle: So much better for the environment, your body and mind [vi] than the ol’ petrol guzzler.
  3. Listen to the rain: Sun is nice, I guess, but nothing quite beats the soothing patter of the rain.
  4. Yawn: You are exhausted, give out a little yawn. Feel nice? Do it again.


[i] www.telegraph.co.uk. (n.d.). Spanish scientists prove the siesta is good for you - and issue guidelines for a perfect nap. [online] Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/spain/9458799/Spanish-scientists-prove-the-siesta-is-good-for-you-and-issue-guidelines-for-a-perfect-nap.html

[ii] Mind (2018). How nature benefits mental health. [online] www.mind.org.uk. Available at: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/nature-and-mental-health/how-nature-benefits-mental-health/.


[iii] Verywell Mind. (n.d.). What Houseplants Can Do for Your Mental Health During Lockdown. [online] Available at: https://www.verywellmind.com/mental-health-benefits-of-houseplants-5097479.


[iv] Care, M.S.S. & H. (n.d.). 5 Health Benefits of Elevating Your Legs. [online] www.merricksurgical.com. Available at: https://www.merricksurgical.com/blog/post/5-health-benefits-of-elevating-your-legs-


[v] Right Home Remedies. (2020). Legs up the Wall: Amazing Benefits If You Put Your Legs on the Wall». [online] Available at: https://righthomeremedies.com/legs-up-the-wall-yoga-pose-benefits/

[vi] Jones, J. (2016). Science Explains How Cycling Changes Your Brain And Makes You Mentally Stronger. [online] Lifehack. Available at: https://www.lifehack.org/374699/science-explains-how-cycling-can-make-you-mentally-stronger.