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Try This: Take a Brain Break

Focusing on a project for hours at a time can make your brain feel like it's turning to mush. To keep your mind sharp, it's smart to step away from what you're doing at least once every hour. "Brain breaks" can focus your mind and recharge those brains cells.

Set a timer or download a free online program or phone app to remind you to take a brain break for at least five to 10 minutes every hour. Then try one of these at break time:

Change the scenery. If you're inside, go out. Upstairs? Go downstairs. The important thing is to move away from the desk or computer you’ve been glued to and focus on something else.

Take a good look around. Go outside, walk around, and really take in the sights, sounds, and smells. Describe the sky using as many adjectives as you can (fluffy, serene, wispy). How many birds can you count? What do you smell?

Get minty. Studies suggest peppermint makes you more alert mentally and physically. Enjoy peppermint candy or gum, take a whiff of peppermint oil, or even take a brain break to brush your teeth.

Be mindful. Meditation clears your thoughts and helps you focus your mind. It's easy: Sit or lie down in a quiet location away from your project. Breathe deeply and slowly through your nose. Focus your attention on a specific object (a pillow), image (a secluded beach), or mantra (a word like "calm" or "peace"). Keep at it until you feel relaxed and centered.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on February 12, 2014