Mental Health Breaks That Aren’t Meditation

Posted: December 16, 2021 | Author: Lyndsey Kay Nelson | Read Time: 8 minutes

cedar breaks studentsFor many, meditation serves as an easy and quick way to help clear a busy mind, however meditation isn’t always the right choice for a stressful situation. If you find meditation stressful but still seek paths for relaxation to help calm your mind, here are a few ideas of mental health breaks that aren’t meditation.


Exercise is one of the human body’s favorite ways to deal with excess stress. Even for people who don’t like traditional exercise, getting outside and moving can be an excellent way to clear your mind. Here are some easy ways to start exercising for people who aren’t interested in athletic challenges.

Go for a Walk

Going for a walk is a simple and easy task to get your body up and moving. Even a five minute walk around the block can help you clear your mind and get your blood pumping, so if stress has you feeling stuck, try going for a quick walk!

Explore Somewhere New

Going to a new place and exploring is a great way to get your body moving. Whether it’s a shopping center or a park, finding something new to explore is both invigorating and interesting. Learn something new and get moving too!

Sun Salutations

Sun Salutations is one of the simplest yoga practices and it is a great way to find balance and ground yourself. Look up a guided Sun Salutations on YouTube, find a spot to stretch, and get your blood and breathing flowing evenly.

Just Dance

Video games like Just Dance or Dance Dance Revolution are fantastic ways to get your body up and moving without leaving the house. You can even look up your favorite Just Dance songs on YouTube and dance along! There’s no pressure to be perfect, just get moving and have some fun!

Do Some Chores

Chores may seem separate from exercise, but you would be shocked at how beneficial they can be! Doing a simple, new task is great for the body, and cleaning up can even help your mind calm and feel more relaxed. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your surroundings, perhaps all you need to do is clean things up!


Reading doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. If you’re a person who wants to escape into different worlds for a short period of time during your mental health breaks, here are some quick books you can read in a day to break up your stressful days!

We Love Anderson Cooper by R. L. Maizes

This collection of short stories follows characters who mean well and fall short. We see our characters try and fail, and the audience is reminded that it is okay to be less than perfect, a perfect read for a stressful week of finals.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Niel Gaiman

This novel by Niel Gaiman clocks in at 178 pages and follows a man returning to his hometown for a funeral. As the story continues, he begins to unpack events from forty years prior and shares with the audience his history and the places he lived. The darkest on this list, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a dark fantasy novel that creates a vivid world to escape into.

An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by Helen Tursten

This short story follows an elderly woman who has lived through the excitement in her life, or so she thinks. We follow this character as she dispatches four individuals. This book is a lighthearted read and is beautifully simple to help unwind on stressful days.

In the Event This Doesn’t Fall Apart by Shannon Barry

This short poetry collection follows the first year in a relationship between the author and her boyfriend. A simple, heartwarming read, In the Event This Doesn’t Fall Apart is a quick and sweet way to cool down after a long day.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

A return to passion for lovers of the movie, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a short and light read following an unnamed writer as he recalls his interactions with his neighbor Holly Golightly. This book is a simple read to bring you back to the eclectic story that began Aubrey Hepburn’s career.

Video Games

While video gaming isn’t for everyone, simple, repetitive tasks can be a great way to shift focus and clear your mind during a long day of studying. Here are some video games that may help you relax.

Kind Words

Kind Words is an experiment in human kindness. Players write anonymous letters, which are then sent into the void for other players to receive and reply to. This game, complete with lo-fi beats, is an excellent choice for individuals looking to connect with the outside world, so if your studying has you locked in a cave, consider playing Kind Words.


This game follows a more traditional video game storyline. This game has you play as a diver, exploring the ocean and learning about ocean life. The game grows in intensity as you continue, but if you’re looking for a strictly relaxing experience, the first hours of the game will help ensure your brain is able to relax and dive into a new world.


Unpacking is a simple puzzle game in which players are following as a person moves into a new space. While unpacking and organizing the belongings, the players begin to learn more about the person they are settling into a new home. This game is a perfect break for individuals looking to organize chaos and create a simple, lovely home.


Unravel is a platformer which follows Yarny, an anthropomorphic creature made of yarn, as he uses his own unraveling yarn to explore the world, solve puzzles, and avoid dangerous creatures. Unravel and it’s sequel Unravel Two are perfect for people looking for a familiar format to relax while exploring.

Animal Crossing (New Horizons)

A familiar name for any video game enthusiast, Animal Crossing’s most recent installment; Animal Crossing: New Horizons puts the player in the position of a villager joining a program to establish a community on a small island.


Journaling can be a great way to center yourself during stressful times. If the idea of writing down an entire day’s events or sharing your thoughts and feelings sounds overwhelming, don’t worry! Here are some other ways to begin journaling.

Make a List

Journaling doesn’t have to contain an excess of personal details. For an easy start to journaling, consider making some lists. Simple things such as things you like, things you remember, your favorite songs, they can all make an easy and exciting start to journaling.

Review Something

Who doesn’t love sharing their opinions? If you want a fun way to start journaling, consider reviewing something you love, or something you hate. Movies, books, songs, even classes can be a great start.

Answer a Question from This List

An effective way to begin journaling is often to start by answering a question. Pick a random question from this list of prompts to begin your journal and answer it honestly. Let your mind wander! Remember, this is for you.

Copy Something

The things we read, listen to, and love are things we will want to remember. If you’re wondering what to start writing and having a hard time feeling creative, try writing down the lyrics to a song you like, or copy a quote that means a lot to you. The act of writing can be relaxing on its own, and you’ll be grateful to have access to things you loved when you’re older.

Write a Conversation

A lot of us go through life with things left unsaid in our heads. If you’re trying to clear your mind, the best thing to do can often be to write it down. Write down the things you wish you had said, or even things you did say that you remember well. If you don’t want to write your own thoughts, keeping a list of things people around you say that make you laugh can be a fun way to reminisce that you’ll be grateful for when you’re looking back.


Writing isn’t for everyone, so if journaling sounds overwhelming and reading seems like too much, consider doodling something. If you aren’t an artist, that’s okay! Here are some ideas and prompts for doodling that don’t require artistic training.

Connect the Dots

A simple way to keep your hands busy, all you need to do for this project is to draw a series of dots throughout your page. Then, connect them! See what shapes and lines you can create, and experiment with different colors.

Draw a Cat

This drawing prompt has been a recent internet favorite. Originated by Brazilian artist Heliosa, the task is simple; to draw a cat. Take a look at their creations and try drawing some cats of your own. No artistic skill is required to turn real cats into doodled blobs.

Follow a Prompt from an Art Challenge

While the most famous art challenge is Inktober, there are plenty of art prompts on the internet to spark your creativity. Look around and find things that inspire you, even if it’s a simple task. Remember, this drawing is for you, so don’t pressure yourself to be Picasso on your first time.

Draw a Poem or Song

Most poetry and songs are built from images, so pick a song you love and try drawing the song. Another way to draw songs is to listen to the song and let your pen drag across the page. Let the music decide what you draw! This can be a great way to get out of your head and ground yourself during moments of high stress.

Draw a Letter

Another easy way to doodle is to draw a letter, similar to posters you may remember from elementary school. Take a letter you like and draw something that represents that letter or that you associate with the letter. Silly as it may seem, this simple doodling task can help you get out of your head and the simplicity can help clear your mind.

Practicing mindfulness may not seem fit for everyone, but we all need a break sometimes. For more information about positive mental health practices and to contact psychological services in times of crisis, contact Counseling and Psychological Services.

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