Give Your Brain a Break: Survive & Thrive Amidst a Pandemic

By: Hannah Christensen, Marketing & Graphic Design Specialist

Let’s be real, dealing with a global pandemic is exhausting! No matter your circumstances, this state of limbo is emotionally, physically, and mentally straining. For many of us, taking care of ourselves can feel like another obligation on top of just getting by. However, “taking care of ourselves” can actually allow us to survive AND thrive. While using avoidance and distraction are both valid and effective survival tools to cope with crisis, these strategies usually take us further away from ourselves.

To survive and thrive is to be empowered, and self-empowerment allows us to be more comfortable being present with ourselves. To genuinely survive AND thrive amidst this pandemic, try these five strategies to give your brain a break and come back to yourself:

    1. MOVE
      We are all made up of energy and sometimes our energy and emotions get stuck in our bodies. Movement encourages our energy and emotions to flow more freely and gives us a break from thinking. Find ways to move that feel good for your body, whether that’s stretching, dancing, lying flat on the floor, or going for a short walk.


      Did you know that changing our scenery affects our brain function? Science has shown that people who spend more time in nature feel less stressed and more motivated. Take a step outside, go for a drive through nature, or sit on a blanket in the sunshine. When we take time to change our scenery, we give ourselves a break. If these options don’t feel accessible, try bringing some new scenery into your space by buying a plant or letting natural light in.


    1. BREATHE
      Everyone breathes, but how often do we breathe deeply? Deep breathing is one of the best ways to tap into our parasympathetic nervous system, the state in which our bodies are able to rest and digest. This is another great way to bring ourselves out of our heads and into our bodies. The University Counseling Center has some great breathing exercises that can get you started.


      Human connection plays a pivotal role in our health and development. Feeling connected to others can lower anxiety and depression and increase empathy and self-esteem. However, isolation can make connecting feel impossible. Try reaching out to someone you care about through a text or phone call.


    Creativity allows our minds and bodies to work together. When we put conscious effort into making something new, we give ourselves a break from the normal hustle and bustle. Try building something, planting a garden, doodling in a notebook, cooking nutritious food, or writing a song, story, or poem. Allow yourself to be expressive.

As we navigate all the changes happening in the world today, it’s important that we be kind to ourselves. Allow your brain some space to breathe so that you can both survive AND thrive. For more ideas or support, check out the University Mindfulness Center.