Eben Pagan’s Blog

What’s Your Best “5 Minute Break” Idea?

Posted in Uncategorized by ebenpagan on May 28, 2009

I’ve been focusing on improving the quality of my short breaks during the day, and I thought I’d ask you: What’s YOUR best idea for a quick break?

Some favorites (and a new one I just tried):

A set of pull ups, a set of push ups, and some body-weight squats really works for me. Takes 3 minutes, and pays huge dividends.

Another is a 5-10 minute meditation. Eyes closed, sitting with legs crossed, zen-breathing.

Taking a walk to the health-food store to get a fresh organic vegetable juice is REALLY working for me these days. Complete change of channel.

A 20-minute nap in the afternoon is magic (I know, it’s longer than 5 minutes… but this one is worth it!).

Yesterday, Rob (who works with me) recommended a 10-second headstand as an “energy booster.” I just tried it for the first time today – FANTASTIC.

So what do you recommend for a quick break to recharge, relax, or rejuvenate?

Leave your break idea in the comments below, and let’s help each other build a heathly, positive habit of taking breaks every hour or two throughout the day!

94 Responses

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  1. @HealthCrusader said, on May 28, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Eben, all those are great. I just made a young coconut, kale, avocado smoothie and hung out on my terrace looking out at the woods. Being in nature or even looking at it changes my beingness. Deep breathing and sending/receiving love are all great too! in the book Blink Gladwell talks about smiling for no reason at all….

  2. Russell James said, on May 28, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Reading a book for 10 minutes really feels like a treat for me when I’m taking a break.

    A shot of wheatgrass pays insane dividends, keeping me wired for at least the next 50 minute session.

    This one’s a little extreme but it’s freshens me up and gets the blood flowing: alternate between hot and cold water in a shower for 30 seconds at a time for 5 minutes.

    Dance to The Prodigy on my iPod.

    Make a green smoothie by blending 2 ripe mangoes and 200g fresh organic spinach in a high speed blender. Add 1 scoop of raw vegan protein for extra kick. This one’s another booster shot for the next 50 mins.

    Get in touch with my vision again by watching a mind movie/journalling/soaking up my vision board.

    Listen to 10 mins of a motivational podcast.

  3. Joe said, on May 28, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    I like to walk outside, stand in the sun, take a few deep breaths, exhale fully, consciously relax my body, and think about nothing in particular.

  4. Tracey Kazimir-Cree said, on May 28, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Great ideas. I need to remember to do this for myself. Here are some of the things I do when I do remember:

    – sit outside in the backyard in the sun
    – sit quietly and pet the dogs
    – sit in “my spot” on the sofa and cuddle up with my favorite soft blanket, breathing slowly and with determination

  5. Khuram said, on May 28, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Hey Eben,

    Try this, it really works well for me.

    Take a quick 5 minute shower and have a bottle of clean water waiting for you when you get out… drink it all in one sitting.

    After having a shower + 16oz water bottle you will feel REALLY REFRESHED! It’s a fantastic way to get your focus going strong and it feels really good as well.

    Try it out!

  6. Paul Magee said, on May 28, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    Eben, A 5 minute Qi Gong routine is perfect for combining both the exercise and the meditation / breathing benefits. Also has the benefit of not getting too sweaty for those who work in a traditional office and not at home.

    I recommend picking up a Shifu Yan Lei DVD, he’s a genuine Shaolin Monk and can teach you a 5-10 min routine like the 8 Treasures, which is perfect. In fact I have a copy which you can have if you want.

    In my home office I’ve also got a full size punch bag hanging from the ceiling which is great for getting the energy flowing again.

    Also recommend checking out Tara Stiles on YouTube, who has a bunch of fun 5 minute Yoga videos.

  7. brianbrookshire said, on May 28, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    -Open the window, breath some fresh air and take in the beauty of Santa Monica.
    -Swing out my arms and twist side to side.
    -Couple rounds of handstands (I figure it’s the best way to build arm muscles like legs 😉 against a wall seeking balance and attempting to do it independent of the wall.
    -Lie down and close my eyes for 30-60s.
    -Coconut water or acai berry/blueberry juice.
    -Back to work.

  8. Great tips! I can also recommend the 20 minute power nap. Really energizes you.

    My tip is to take a quick shower! The combination of hot, running water and breathing a little steam helps you relax which in turn encourages more deeper breathing, which in turn energizes and refreshes you. It also is a great way to “escape” from any pressures you face. While you’re immersed in running water, all you see, feel, smell, taste, and hear is water… it’s a complete sensory experience and suddenly the pressures fade away!

    And now I’m not alone in this idea… check this study out:


    At least 1 shower per day helped increase productivity and creativity by 42 per cent and 33 per cent respectively!

  9. Chris Hubbard said, on May 28, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Making a fresh carrot/cucumber juice. Hands down! A nice way to relax and get an energy boost.

  10. Michael Strathmore said, on May 28, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Here’s a thought.
    Go outside. On the Street. For five minutes.

    Accelerated walking pace, with intention.
    In that five minute span, say “hello, how are you?”
    or a variation of that, to five random people, WITH a genuine
    smile on your face…(in the hope of inspiring them to smile back.)
    One person per minute, or five people in one minute, (any order that it happens)

    This will truly be a productive use of time.

    1) Working indoors, underlights, in an office as many do,
    can diminish vital energy. The sun is the source of all life, and energy.
    The five minutes outside during the break, in the middle of the day, would be
    an appetizer of Vitamin D for the your skin, the bodies largest organ. Healthy.
    Vitamin D affects the immune system by promoting phagocytosis, anti-tumor activity, and immunomodulatory functions. Good. You just boosted your immune system. Lucky you!

    2) The accelerated walking pace re-activates the bodies energy, gets blood moving
    in those few minutes out of the desk chair, and will wake up your sleeping limbs rapidly.
    Good. Wake me up. I was too comfortable in my office chair anyway. It swivals and leans back…

    3) Saying “hello” to five strangers on the street with a smile, inquiring how they are, will make them feel good for that brief moment, will give some varied human contact during the break, albeit brief as can be, and, if one is lucky enough to receive a smile in return…well, that’s a biologically induced change of mental state caused simply by a facial reflex; a quick jolt of positive energy, free of charge.
    Yes..it’s fun to do. Detach from the computer for a few minutes
    and look into peoples eyes. Computer screens don’t smille back ;(
    I’ve smiled at mine. Nothing happens…

    Mind, body, and spirit amped up in one five minute break? Sign me up.

    I’m going to go say hello to that girl on rollerskates on the corner… right now!
    The one in pink, by God!
    And the old man behind her, with the cane, who looks
    like he might fall over any second now. He looks slightly lonely.

    Everyone have a good day at work manana…

  11. Jonas Cronfeld said, on May 28, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Regarding naps Wendi Friesen has a product called “5 Minute Cat Nap” – it works GREAT for ultra-short naps. I think she actually attended one of your live programs.

    It’s included in this program: http://hypnosis.wendi.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=PWNAP-CD2

    All the best,


  12. Maryam said, on May 28, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    for me Wii sport! lazy me

  13. scottjameswebdesign said, on May 29, 2009 at 2:19 am

    After a session of serious focused work, I find that nothing rejuvenates me quite like “Sweet Carloine” by Neil Diamond. I recommend playing it really loud. Your neighbors might think you’re weird, but hey, whatever. No song makes me feel quite the same. It’s like being drunk without being drunk for 3:24. And you can even make smoothies and do headstands at the same time!

  14. scottjameswebdesign said, on May 29, 2009 at 2:22 am

    To clarify, I meant to say that you can make smoothies OR do headstands at the same time (as listening to the song). You wouldn’t want to make smoothies AND do headstands at the same time. That would be ill advised. Thanks.

  15. Syboh Seven said, on May 29, 2009 at 6:13 am

    Hi Eben,

    The best breaks you can do as an info worker are those which FULLY engage the other parts of your brain and therefore switch off your thinking brain.

    So usually physical stuff. Squats as you mentioned are not bad, but you brain is still thinking a

  16. Syboh Seven said, on May 29, 2009 at 6:17 am

    Hi Eben,

    The best breaks you can do as an info worker are those which FULLY engage the other parts of your brain and therefore switch off your thinking brain.

    So usually physical stuff. Squats as you mentioned are not bad, but you brain is still thinking about business stuff as you squat. It’s not intense enough.

    Better is to play tennis with someone, or against a wall. Or play some football. Or do some juggling. You get my drift: anything that makes you focus on it 100% and therefore clears your mind of whatever was in it when you left your desk.


  17. ERick said, on May 29, 2009 at 7:56 am

    Go to the balcony to see the beach and Listen a good son energetic with the ipod and move with the ritmic or directly dance like a mad happy men 😛

  18. Alex said, on May 29, 2009 at 8:32 am

    Wow cool I’ll have to try the handstand thing. For me what’s worked are reading an interesting article, taking a walk, having a quick chat with someone. Just staring into space sipping on a coffee or tea. Maybe just talking a second to think about long term goals or remind myself of the big picture.

  19. Lindy said, on May 29, 2009 at 9:20 am

    All fabulous comments – thanks for the guidance everyone.

    One additional idea is to do something to open the front of my body, especially if I’ve been sitting. In Yoga, this would be equivalent to opening the heart center. Things like extending over an exercise ball (large or small), over a foam roller, or even a towel can help to counteract the forward position we adopt when computerizing and phoning. Helps the ribs, chest and shoulders expand in front. Breathe….let in the joy, let go of the blocks.

  20. Ian Brock said, on May 29, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Movement is one of the best state breakers, so a five minute walk or just a walk around the block is great. I find that it doesn’t have to be a long walk and I don’t have to lose the work idea I was thinking about, just the movement sheds a different light. Push ups sit ups or even some deep breaths can induce a surge or energy. I like the above idea of talking to five strangers as a state breaker, just clears and changes the emotions through that interaction.

  21. Allen Wu said, on May 29, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    Listen to paraliminals from http://www.learningstrategies.com/

    The 10-minute supercharger works wonders! It feels like a 3 hour nap in only 10 minutes!

  22. Darren Alff said, on May 29, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    You could always take a quick spin on your bike. It depends where you live and what sort of roads you have around your home/office, but going on a 5-10 minute like ride around the block/neighborhood is a good way to stretch the mind and the muscles.

  23. Sammy said, on May 30, 2009 at 12:52 am

    rebound with music!!! (small trampoline)


    climb my tree in the front yard (adrenaline rush at the top)

    play piano or drums

    walk around the block

    yoga stretches (back, legs, arms, and headstand)

    pull ups

  24. Dan said, on May 30, 2009 at 8:11 am

    Try this breathing exercise from a Tony Robbins audio-program (actually taken from yoga)

    1 – 4 – 2

    Inspire one unit, then keep your breath for four units, and finally expire for two units. Repeat.

    For example if you inspire for 7 seconds, keep your breath for 28, and inspire for 14.

    I find that my energy goes up ten-fold.

  25. Garfield said, on May 30, 2009 at 11:23 am

    I like to do some slow Kung Fu. I focus on complete all movements using my subconscious mind. This helps take my thoughts completely off work, gets blood and vital energy flowing, and helps to ‘centre’ me.

    Great question!

  26. Ingo said, on May 30, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    What about this…

    4 minutes of workout (divided in small stress and recovery segments)
    for example: 20 sec of push ups
    10 sec rest
    20 sec pull ups
    10 sec rest
    20 sec ab exercise
    10 sec rest etc

    Then..1 minute of deep breathing or a quick streching.

    Maybe 10 minutes would be better (4 min workout and 6 of breathing)

    Ive learned this workout in mercolas new book. Thank you for recommending him in MT. Also power of full engagement is great!

    PD: Please Eben, open again getignition soon. I need this course. Im from Madrid (Spain) and here there is absolutely no information as good as ignition. please!!! Im frustrated with my “college” because is a small one and teachers are SHIT…I been saving money for something like this for a long time…hope you understand me!
    Maybe open it for me in secret? Give me a date or sth!!!

  27. Michael Strathmore said, on May 30, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    This post/blog really got me thinking. There are great ideas/suggestions here. The recommendation about Qigong (chi kung) is a very good method to re-center and regain focus in a break and then be able to move forward in the day with a new energy and positive mental focus. It is always a beneficial thing for someone to do and train to do, and actually use. The other side about doing some quick exercise for a subtle jolt to the body to get things moving, whether it is push-ups/ pull-ups, jumping-jacks, or a variation, is, of course, also a great alternative. There is a new modern style of exercise called “CrossFit,” though now seeming to be somewhat of a social fad, which actually has some good parts to pull from. There is a LOT that can be accomplished physically in only 4-5 minutes time to benefit the body. In fact, there are studies that show that doing quick burst of running, at full sprint several times, are more beneficial than the standard consistent treadmill for 20-40 steady minutes. A good Cross Fit tidbit to borrow for this small span of minutes could be something as simple as a quick 100 meter dash, jump rope for two minutes, and a double set of 30 push/pull ups. That is harder than it sounds to squeeze and pack into five minutes. Doing five rounds of those three sets is exponentially more difficult. So—-it seems there are basically two methods here to try and test. The relaxation/ meditation/ QiGong/mental centering road …or the path of a quick physical jolt and rush of bodily energy expenditure and the benefits of a quick but concentrated exercise burst. Both have critical value and benefit in life and in the day at any moment. The question is, for a quick/brief break which route will maximize one’s potential and full efficiency for the remainder of daily productivity, and will reap the best and most notable results. I would like to read the case-study results of that one. In a group of five people, there may be varied responses and opinions given. In a group of 100-500 people divided and using both approaches over a period of weeks, investigating the results and reporting their observations about the positive effects on their work-day. . . well…that’s not an assignment for Masters and Johnson….that’s a Guru Mastermind assignment to be sure, and a study worth publishing no doubt.
    “Hypothesis ::2. (Natural Science) A tentative theory or supposition provisionally adopted to explain certain facts, and to guide in the investigation of others; hence, frequently called a working hypothesis.”
    I propose the results of this study deserve publishing on Wikipedia.

  28. A.J. Pape said, on May 30, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Twitter, duh! 😉

  29. Doug Groce said, on May 30, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Wow, I’ll have to try that headstand – will report back 🙂

    Cool routine with the exercise circuit, Eben – Getting deeper (off topic) into the exercise component.. You may for a time or two putting in the reverse lunge in place of the squats to see how it goes – It gives you TREMENDOUS bank for your buck time-wise and also trains your body to be on one leg – Give it a shot (you may have to google reverse lunge to get a good video)

    Also, making and drinking a quick protein shake is a good break – forces you to stand up, and also serves as a healthy snack to refresh your mind.

    Great post and comments – I’ll implement some of the right away.. Still iffy on the headstand.. lol.

  30. Casey said, on May 31, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Great topic, Eben.

    Whenever possible, I like to do a quick spin on my bike, or hop on the longboard. Even just leaving the ‘office’ and heading down the block with the dog is a solid break.

    When I can’t leave, I will lay down on the ground and do some stretching/yoga. Seems to help quite a bit!

    Here’s a question for you, Eben — How do you structure long phone calls to give breaks? I can be on a 2-person call for 2-3 hours at a time… I know we’re not being a focused as possible. Do you maintain your breaks during those?

    Interested to hear your response.

  31. Clay Collins said, on June 1, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    My favorite breaks involve inducing peak experiences in very short periods. One way to do this is to run to your closest nearby body of water, jump in, swim like hell for 5 minutes, then run back. And collapse for a bit.

    Standing meditation also works well, and I especially like listening to “Awakened Mind System” by Dr. Jeffrey Thompson during this period (it’s the best meditation music I’ve heard).

    I think too many people try to relax by closing their eyes and pushing out the rest of the world. I try and do the opposite: flood my senses. It works well for me.


  32. Tina Mans said, on June 2, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    I normally like to take a walk and deep breath. It helps me to rejuviante my brain and sometimes better ideas come up!!
    Hope it helps!

  33. Jay said, on June 3, 2009 at 3:43 am

    1. A good one is to simply march on the spot for a few minutes. Apparently, this involves the use of the left and right hemisphere of the brain simultaneously, which invigorates the brain, sharpens it up, gets the blood flowing. I really like this one. I used to use it before exams in college.

    2. I once heard Tony Robbins suggest the deep breathing technique (sort of like meditation) in which you breath in very deeply, hold it for a few seconds, then slowly let it out. If you’re tired, you can feel your brain begin to “spark up” or become energised.

    3. I have a punch bag at home. While studies have shown that hitting a punch bag does not relieve anger or aggression and may actually make it worse (counter-intuitively), I find that working out for short, high intensity bursts on a punch bag (in a calm state of mind) is an incredible energiser.

    4. If you read Jason Vale’s book “Slim for Life”, it will powerfully affirm the life-enhancing, amazing benefits and sheer pleasures of freshly made fruit and vegetable juice on mental and physical well-being and energy. I hope that doesn’t sound like an ad 🙂 That book has done more for my energy levels than anything else. It brought about a massive paradigm shift in how I perceive nutrition and health.

  34. Paul Magee said, on June 3, 2009 at 4:36 am

    @Jay that’s an interesting point you mention that hitting a punch bag doesn’t relieve aggression. I’d be interested in reading more about that if you have any sources?

    I can see how trying to hit a bag whilst in a state of anger might not work. But I think there is something about bag work and martial arts that make a person calmer and less aggressive in general.

    I hit a bag daily, in short bursts and I feel like it has an over all calming effect, whilst being immediately energizing. But then, I never hit the bag in anger.

    Eben – I’ve only come to hear about your work recently, but the high quality of comments on here says a lot about the people who follow you and your work.

  35. Scott said, on June 3, 2009 at 11:31 am

    I’m a musician who builds websites for other musicians. I have a timer that I set to 1hr when I’m working. I have an iTunes playlist that I’ve designed to help my focus and concentration. Mozart, Beethoven, Rachmaninov, Grieg, Danny Elfman, subliminal success tapes, and audio programs designed to facilitate concentration.

    As soon as the timer gets to 10min it starts beeping. At this point I disengage and change my playlist to “Break time!” The idea is to change my mental and physical state. I get out of my chair, stretch, maybe make a broccoli/berry/protein/flaxseed/creatine/almond milk/”very green” smoothie, do some dishes etc. The factor that makes all the difference for me though is the music.

    The music that I chose for my “Break time!” playlist was selected for having the opposite effect on me as the “concentration” playlist. To me, the music in this playlist should hit like a ton of bricks. It should be the kind of song that’s loud, fun and isn’t too serious. The kind of song that instantly elevates the mood when someone plays it on a jukebox. Here are some of my favorites:

    “Sweet Carline” by Neil Diamond
    “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel
    “Superfreak” by Rick James
    “Emotional Rescue” by the Rolling Stones
    “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey
    “Funkatopia” by Dr Theopolis

    Anybody else incorporate music into their work/recovery routine? What songs work for you?

  36. stonerpreneur said, on June 3, 2009 at 11:39 am

    Most of the suggestions I have all deal with iPod touch/iPhone applications.

    I have several binaural beats/meditation applications: AmbiSci BP, BinauralBeat, and iBrainWave. They are all distinctive in their ambient noise choices, and iBrainWave is just the beats with an option of white noise.

    I also have the “Autonomic Pilot” application, which has noises and a visual to correspond to breathing patterns. You can customize the patterns, it already has three pre-set ones (relax, energy, and balance), and you can also customize the breaths per minute. (I always set mine closer to 5 for calming down and closer to 6 for being more alert.)

    The only problem is you can only run one app at a time.

    The other one I like to use that is for more musicians, or people trying to improve their musical theory, is the Karajan Music & Ear Trainer. You can get better at theory, and even improve your ear and rhythm during your breaks!

    If, for some reason, I don’t have my iPod handy, I can always CUDDLE MY HUSBAND REALLY HARD for my allotted break time. This is always my first choice unless he is busy. I think I just contradicted myself. Oh well!

  37. Jay said, on June 3, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Hi Paul,

    In response to your question, I first came aware of it through a documentary I watched on aggression and catharsis. I can’t remember the name of the documentary though.
    It’s now a firmly established fact of social psychology. Recently enough, Penn and Teller, in their irreverent way, debunked the popular idea that controlled aggression (such as punching a pillow) helps to relieve it. You’ll get tonnes of information if you search catharsis and aggression in Google.

  38. stonerpreneur said, on June 3, 2009 at 11:53 am

    There’s also an iPod app called the abundance pack… It’s a hypnosis related set of affirmations (prosperity, gratitude, perfect health, etc. ) and you can add pictures of your dream house/car/anything and everyone you care about to motivate you to do the things you need to do! Very NLP/The Secret – related. I love it!

  39. michele said, on June 3, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    love all of these. the combination of meditation relaxation and getting to a calm and peaceful state of mind for me always involves silence. The sound of nothing…quite and still and then the most important of all pray. a quick prayer will always calm the nerves and bring a sense of grace and gratitude. If I need a pick me up love a quick fresh juice and vit. B Blast. moving the body with a yoga and strength posture. Be blessed and thank you for reminding us that there is such a thing as taking 5.

  40. ellen said, on June 3, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    When I need a break I walk downstairs, put on a bit of music and dance with my 2 year old daughter in the living room (Elivs or Mambo Kings are always winners). Her smiles and the endorphins from all the laughter keep me smiling and refocus my attention on my intention. Helps me not take myself too seriously as well.

    A quick option to help release over-seriousness. Feeling stressed? Stand up and write your first name in the air with your nose. Still too serious? Write your last name in the air with your belly button. Betcha laugh.

  41. Ariel Angel said, on June 3, 2009 at 1:27 pm


    how about,

    running fast for 20 seconds, walking back slowly taking deep breaths

    sitting down, closing eyes, concentrating on your breathing while inhaling love and exhaling peace for a minute or 2

    Then listening to a very powerful positive song. Looking directly at the sun would be amazing , but only when it starts to set or just after it rises (When radiation is minimal)

    Eating a vegetable , drinking a bottle of water

    Give someone, maybe a stranger, a hug

    and lastly, just before you get back to work,


  42. Scott – nice work! I do a similar thing with the playlist that helps concentration. The challenge for me is I’ve only got about 24 hours of music in my ‘concentration’ list (I call it my “music to design to” playlist). After half a year you get a little tired with it, because you end up hearing the same song almost once a day!! So now I swap between ALL music, and that playlist. Hearing seemingly ‘unproductive’ music now keeps me motivated, because I’m not becoming bored with the playlist.

    Have you found this, and if so what did you do?

  43. Paul Magee said, on June 3, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    @Scott I use a number of cd’s to kick me into action at specific times.

    – Nine Inch Nails always starts my weights routine with something raw and punky and helps me time it as well.
    – Placebo have great tunes for kickstarting the brain in the morning “One more time with feeling”
    – If I’m trying to cook up a big brain storm it helps to build the pace slowly first, I have a great cd by UNKLE with some big movie type tracks, a bit like Danny Elfman. “End titles, stories for film”

    @Jay Thanks, I’ll look into it.

  44. Sherrie Rose (The Love Linguist) said, on June 3, 2009 at 4:48 pm


    Follow that 10-second “energy booster” headstand with a head rub. (Even better if someone else gives you the head massage).

    Massage the temples, the middle of the skull where the corpus callosum meets, under the cheek bones, the ear lobes, better the eye brows, along the jaw bone with your mouth open, and run your fingers all through your hair.

    This will take less than 5 minutes… or go for longer.

    Sherrie ♥
    The Love Linguist

  45. Scott said, on June 3, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    Hey Jaden,

    I try to keep the playlist fresh by regularly adding new tracks from iTunes. Ultimately as I go I’ll have moments of awareness occasionally where I’ll realize the effect that the music is having on me. Over time this helps me to get rid of certain tracks that don’t cut it. Only the strong survive. I recommend that you keep adding music and get rid of the weakest tracks regularly. There’s no shortage of good music to add.

    You can make the playlist as large or small as you like. Mine is a lot smaller than yours and I haven’t gotten sick of it yet. If I were to add some David Bowie and Rolling Stones then I’d end up with too much of my attention on the music and not enough on what I’m doing. When I’ve got my “concentration” playlist on, I want it to be mostly unconscious.

    When I throw on the “Break time!” playlist I want it to put me in a great mood and I want to enjoy what I’m listening to. Like I do with the “concentration” playlist, I try to be conscious of the effect that songs have on me in order to evaluate them. If I hear a song and it really gets me fired up one way or another then I’ll put it in the “Break time!” playlist.

    I feel that if I were to mix and match with the playlists when I got bored with them then I’d be gravitating towards the “grey zone” (as described in the book “The Power of Full Engagement”). The idea is to make a clear distinction between my work which is spent in clean focus mode, and my break time where I change my state and take my mind as far away from work as I immediately can.

    Besides, Superfreak sounds that much sweeter after 50 minutes of Mozart and Kelly Howell! Bwayw nah dah uuh bow nu dah du.. “She’s a very kinky girl!….”

    – Scott

  46. Eric Grace said, on June 3, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    I like to pet my cat… or

    go outside barefoot and ground my feet into the grass… it discharges that emf field wiggy feeling I get from my pc every once and a while.

    make out with my wife

    make a superfood smoothie

    use my chi machine

    use my inversion table

    use my yogaswing

    use my resistance bands

    take a walk… see the sunset


    pick up my guitar for making up some new riffs


    sit and meditate

    call a friend

  47. Geert said, on June 4, 2009 at 1:29 am

    I take a hot shower and every couple of seconds turn the water to cold for a short second. Works wonders.

    Plus, I get my best ideas in the shower, during a ‘break’.

  48. Thomas O'Duffy said, on June 4, 2009 at 2:21 am

    Favourite quick breaks:

    I find that, when revising for exams, what does it for me is to listen to some of my favourite (and most sincere) slow songs, lying down.

    I really enjoy sitting with my back against a big tree in the park and meditating. There are various types of meditation I enjoy… and I especially like to find the best – feeling thought / idea I have access to and dwell on that until that feeling fills me.

    Though it takes more like 20 minutes and can only be done at the exact moment of sunrise and sunset, AGNI HOTRA (the vedic fire ceremony) is totally awesome and just about the most profoundly energising, peace increasing, time efficient mini-ritual I’ve ever discovered.

  49. Leonard said, on June 4, 2009 at 7:16 am

    Not a “5 Minute Break” idea, but a “Have More Time for 5 Minute Breaks” idea:

    I tried the Uberman sleep schedule and I found I get done as much in one single day as I normally would over the course of an entire week.

  50. Laura Roeder said, on June 4, 2009 at 11:02 am

    I’ve read a million things that say NOT to do this (because it’s mixing up worktime and hometime) but for me doing 5 minutes of cleaning like washing dishes or sweeping works well for a break. It’s a nice mindless activity and gets me moving around a bit.

    Going outside is always the best for reviving energy, I agree with others that getting out in the sun is important. I also like to spend time petting or playing with my cat for a break.

  51. ryankjones said, on June 4, 2009 at 11:18 am

    To reply to Scott,

    I am a locksmith and I take breaks constantly throughout the day with music. Jazz music seems to be my best get a way. Certain techno songs, Especially ones mixed with orchestras seem to help too. Dj mixes of certain songs also seem to help. Xm satellite radio use to have several high quality djs. Dj baby yu and Dj xclusive (Damion daniel) have great mixes avaliable for download. These mixes are more than 5 Min though. You can google both of these deejays.

  52. William Bélanger said, on June 5, 2009 at 6:41 am

    Try “talking gibberish”. That means expressing all possible sounds, in a language which does not exist, but rather spontaneously. Just randomly let out some moans and snarls yawns and words, using your voice and tongue, whithout an idea in mind. THEN combine it with some yoga routine. It feels very good, try it.


  53. ted said, on June 6, 2009 at 4:38 am

    afternoon powernap or walk around the block works best for me!

  54. Fran said, on June 6, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Hi Everyone,
    Definitely coffee, cigarette and a Godsmack song revitalizes me.

  55. Guru Bob said, on June 7, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    What I like to do is some chin-ups and then just sit in nature. Sitting in nature seems to be the best… when I listen to it it offers words of wisdom.

  56. Jay said, on June 8, 2009 at 1:13 am

    Another thing I want to add, which is obvious to me but not obvious to some people, is that you should avoid caffeine.

    If you want to tire yourself out in the long run, nothing beats a good strong cup of coffee.

  57. Jay said, on June 8, 2009 at 1:14 am

    William Bélanger, that sounds completely nuts. Are you typing this from within the confines of padded walls? 😉

  58. Lukas Rethke said, on June 9, 2009 at 8:34 am


    Great post!! I will be trying out your techniques. The nap one may go quite well today. My favorite one is this legs up the wall yoga pose I learned about a few months ago. I made a youtube video showing how to do it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9O-fUyiSlFY

  59. Cletus Coffey said, on June 9, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    Step outside the house and repeat “I am Prosperous” 100 times. Real chemical shift.

  60. RJ said, on June 11, 2009 at 1:56 am

    Hey eben a.k.a DavidD

    Arent you the same guy , David d angelo. ? Because I can see this huge personality change when you change your names. So is David D a real high status , high personality guy only during DYD programs or is he like that in real life too. ?

    By da way, 5 mins break – Go through some Blogs and read some irreleveant , chilled out stuff like this blog of eben’s. ah.. Well, my 5 mins due now.

  61. مـيّ said, on June 14, 2009 at 4:22 am

    I walk around our house! Go play with nephews!

    Eat something

    Remind my self with my goal!

    LAUGH! Just remember what makes me LAUGH!

  62. James said, on June 18, 2009 at 11:09 am

    Whilst the ‘fortune cookie’ approach to mini-breaks sounds great – I just love taking the exhaustive (not) journey from my home office to the kids’ play room for a super intensive play session…

    …complete with loud happy singing! 🙂


  63. Yancy said, on June 19, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    As I don’t live in sunny San Diego any more and I’m under water in England, 5 minutes is always perfect for stepping outside for some quick vitamin D while I do deep breathing exersizes starting from deep in the pubic region slowly bringing it up into the chest and then breathing out and down from the eyelids, feeling the energy move down through your body. Great for finding imbalances. Or as it’s England, you can go to the pub for a quick pint!

  64. jasonhyde said, on June 20, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    Thanks Eban. I learned about the PEAK STATE from the Tony Robbins UPW seminar I went to a couple of months ago. If you want to get your body and mind ready for your next round of work – and don’t quite have 5 minutes at that time, just put your body in a PEAK STATE.

    I just put my fingers in the middle of my upper chest, and push my chest out and up about a quarter of an inch. That’s it. That is the state that your body would be in if you felt amazing right? So put your body in that state and you WILL feel amazing.

    By the way, the information I learned from your interview with TR is worth it’s weight in gold and then some. I’ll be launching my own web site in a few weeks. Thank you.

  65. […] What’s Your Best “5 Minute Break” Idea? « Eben Pagan’s Blog […]

  66. Joshua Uebergang said, on June 24, 2009 at 7:46 am

    I was oblivious to 10min breaks until Wake Up Productive. I must try the head stand tomorrow. Everyone’s comments gives me a Mastermind feeling of refocusing my daily routines around energy.

    I’m always looking for effective ways to manage my energy, like you Eben, and find that thinking in terms of polar opposites does wonders. For example:

    – At work you sit still – rejuvenate by moving around
    – At work your analytical mind buzzes – rejuvenate by tapping into the right side of the brain (which is why I believe visualizations and meditation works so well)
    – At work your body compresses – rejuvenate by stretching your body
    – At work you don’t eat and – rejuvenate by eating and drinking
    – At work your breathing goes shallow from bodily compression – rejuvenate with slow, deep, deliberate breathes
    – At work your eyes focus hard on the screen – rejuvenate by letting your eyes “zone out” and let your peripheral vision come into play
    – At work you’re under artificial light – rejuvenate with natural sunlight
    – At work you’re alone – rejuvenate by talking with people

    I hope this provides a new perspective for how people approach recovery.

  67. D said, on June 26, 2009 at 5:31 am

    — and do that with GREEN tea!

    Use a waterboiler and two teabags for a can.
    Fill it into a bottle but leave some space you
    can fill up with cold water, so you can drink
    the stuff and don’t have to suck on it like a baby.

    At best, do three cans throughout the day.
    That makes around 4.5l

    Try that and whatever “5 minute break” idea you
    use will increase its effect.

    Eat live foods. (vegetables. No beings.)

    You’re welcome,

  68. Sitara Haye said, on June 30, 2009 at 7:55 am

    – Take a walk.
    – Read an inspirational short story.
    – Grapes and good cheese! Num!
    – Check my Tweets.
    – Coloring (I have a fantastic art coloring book geared more for adults).
    – Make a journal entry.
    – Say one round of prayers on my Witches’ Ladder.
    – Do a Sun Salutation.

    It’s amazing what 5 minutes for YOU can do! 🙂

  69. Art Pablico said, on July 1, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    I listen to ANY SONG of my favorite band, Rage Against The Machine.

    I downloaded a program called PC Chrono (for Windows) for FREE.

    It has a timer set to 50mins.

    You can choose an mp3 that plays as an alarm.

    When I was doing the 5 minute break for the 1st time, it was DIFFICULT.

    But if that music suddenly plays, really changes channels in my head!

    Makes it easier for me to pull-off my work.

  70. jonnu said, on July 7, 2009 at 12:15 am

    the best thing to relax is to have sex. i find sex very relaxing and rejuventating. when i stick my stick into my girlfriends pond.

  71. David Sinick said, on July 7, 2009 at 10:27 am

    Stretching is a great way to take a break – especially if you’ve been sitting for a while. I like to do some form of a lunge stretch just to loosen things up after a long day at the computer.

  72. Michael Stathmore said, on July 7, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard it put as poetically as you set that down.
    “stick my stick…… .”
    Emily Dickenson could have learned
    a thing or two from you about how really
    to get to the heart of the matter. My only
    concern for you would be to make sure
    that your girlfriends pond doesn’t have any
    But, putting this serious stuff aside, I would like to add just
    a footnote to your note, a Post-It on your fridge-
    Yes, I think we would all agree that having sex may be one
    of the top three things to do in life, worth pushing your
    grandmother in front of oncoming traffic for-
    however, when it comes to the work day, no pun intended,
    I think it is important to maintain the fighting, killing energy to
    take on the challenges of of one’s career-
    The fabulous drainage of the male vitality lifeforce
    essence that a man may forfeit with a mid-afternoon coitus
    could result in a gross decline in overall sales/ productivity
    that may be prove to be significant over a fiscal year-
    In other words, a boob in the hand is worth two in the bush-
    Keep your hands out of the cookie jar until you’ve eaten your
    Don’t make her squeal till’ you’ve closed the deal.
    If all else fails, meet her in the dressing room of the nearest dept.
    store, have a 10 min thumper, get a triple-shot from Starbucks
    and get back to work-
    And, that’s only in an emergency-
    and if you’re fishing, don’t lose your bait in the water-

  73. Anthony James said, on July 13, 2009 at 7:12 am

    I’ve been reading a book called the Lazy mans way to riches the author recommends taking a 5-20 minute break to do a kind of self hypnosis.

    Haven’t tried it yet but is supposed to work wonders.

  74. dirk268 said, on July 14, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    breathe seven times and then touch ur toe….Miracle:-) Dirk

  75. doctor90 said, on July 14, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    welcome Mr

    my name
    Mahdi Zaid
    am from Palestine
    am 19 years old
    i study midicine in Egypt

    in fact i have a problem that tying my hands

    i want to succeed
    i have faith & ability to do it
    but my road still confused
    plz plz plz help me
    i want to pass the road of succees that Dr farrah has foot

    plz don’t read my msg only without reply

    thanks Mr

  76. Michael said, on July 16, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    I’d have to say cracking open a beer and chugging it would be my best 5 minute break. That or a quick set of 15 reps with my 40 lb dumbbells usually does the trick 🙂

  77. Gail Leopold said, on July 16, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    The idea of a break is to create some energy and blood flow. 5 minutes is plenty of time to rev the engines – go outside – no matter what the temperature or the weather and breath in the air deeply. It will feel different in the rain, awesome in the snow or ice and life-giving in the sunshine. Do a few stretches and walk a bit – have a nice cool drink of water ! Deep breathing and oxygen are the keys to energy!

  78. Randal Blanchette said, on July 22, 2009 at 4:56 am

    Walk outside and ‘eat the sun’. Then just listen and take life in. Little more than 3 minutes, but not much 🙂

  79. Drew Turnbull said, on July 23, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    Yogic Breathing Technique…I got this one from Dr. Weil, I believe.

    1. Breathe in for a count of four
    2. Hold breath for a count of seven
    3. Exhale slowly for a count of eight.

    Repeat three times, but not too much more than that, and be careful…it’s addictive.

    Bathing in energy visualization…from Dreamhealer (a Canadian energy healer):

    Close eyes, relax, and visualize standing in a rushing waterfall of blue energy flowing over you. Feel the rushing energy soothe and smooth out any tangled energy. Make it as real a visualization as you can. I used this one to lower my pulse by %50 at the Ontario Science Center to win a bet with my wife lol!

    Bring the funk! Dance to The Meters, Sly, Stevie or any of the ones on your list, like you were a guest on Soul Train – I bet your smiling right now imagining it.

    All The Best,

  80. Katie Williams said, on July 24, 2009 at 6:43 am

    I gotta say, Eben, if I lived where you do (assuming you haven’t moved since the behind the scenes vid) my breaks would all be spent on the beach, looking out at the ocean.. I can’t think of anything more relaxing and inspiring than being so close to the water


  81. Drew Turnbull said, on July 25, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    One caveat to previous post: when bringing the funk, do NOT pick up the guitar or bass. Very counter-productive. You may not get back to work (unless your work is playing in a band) for another six hours or so. Learned that one (several times) the hard way. The axe can wait until you are finished.

  82. Drew Turnbull said, on July 25, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    I found this one in my collection: it’s a handy self-massage book that offers: “five-minute vacations and sensuous escapes”. I’ve enjoyed your work, so if you’d like it I’d be happy to send it to you as a gift – just let me know where to ship it.

    All The Best,


  83. Thomas Pagan said, on July 25, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    I think the best way to relax is to circle your head. Usually, neck has a hard time supporting the head (cuz the neck is smaller than the head). Circuling the head few times from left to right, and then from right to left while having hands sticking out on the side is the best way. DONT STEAL MY IDEA EVEN IF YOU HAPPEN TO BE MY COUSIN! Jk. Try it.

  84. Buzz Lightyear said, on July 27, 2009 at 7:54 am

    I find the best way to relax is to spend your evenings on your back on a hill watching falling stars in the summer sky. One of the best places to do this was down a dirt road and over a creeky wooden bridge that sometimes would flood. The road is rutted and grown over so please be careful. You will come to this hidden place out side of Walton.

    If this doesn’t work attempt to repair a motorcycle that hasn’t ran in years.

    Eben it is nice to see your work, it is also good that you are extending your fathers teachings. Drflipper@Hotmail.com

  85. Ayden said, on July 28, 2009 at 1:04 am

    Two things Eban.

    1. I don’t typically take any breaks. I just go go go all day long. I usually take a break when my eyes get sore. The break usually consists of me going to my car, getting out my sun glasses, and coming back to the screen. Sunnies are good for sore eyes.

    2. Just want to thank you for this post. Being in a position that attracts the audiences that you can, it’s great that you’re leveraging that by asking effective questions. After reading this post, I’m sure to incorporate a break into my daily routine.

  86. Dianne DelReyes said, on July 29, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Love your 10 minute break ideas.

    I am particularly fond of the walk and the nap. 🙂 I do headstands in my yoga class, but have not tried them during the day on a break… I could see how this would be helpful, especially if you’re feeling “stuck” could help break that and give you new perspective as well.

    Thanks for insight
    dianne delreyes

  87. Alex Lim said, on July 29, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    i just grab myself some coffee, listening to a boss a nova songs. and i make sure i don’t sit in front my my computer. i don’t know i find drinking coffee and boss a nova really relaxing.

  88. newlifetravel said, on July 31, 2009 at 10:22 am

    I think the money-est use of a 5 minute break is to sit down, clear your mind and think about all the amazing things you want in your life. 5 minutes of visualizing your ideal life is enough to make it come true.

  89. Dirk said, on August 1, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Well after thinking about the topic I come to the conclusion, that it doesnt really matter waht you do i nthe break as long as it feels refreshing for you and doenst have big connections to the sense which has been used before (like if you were sitting silently it might be a good idea to do some moving, to get ur brain halves synchronized again, after the mostly left hemisphere dominated work at the PC for instance). So using other senses and do things which involve both of your brainhemispheres are the best basis for the break – leave the rest to your subconsciuos. The true “gold” beside refreshement and synchronization in a break is also the fact, that we give the subconciousness time to work on the task or problem we work on. In or after such a break its simly easier to see things from a different or higher perspective (after our subconsciousness sorted the material where it belongs) and in some cases it even went to famous “HEUREKAS” taking a bath:-) which revolutionized the world.

  90. Elizabeth Grant said, on August 10, 2009 at 7:12 am

    I go for a walk to connect with nature, taking notice of the wind, flowers, scents, colors, etc. While doing this, I flood my mind with an affirmation, usually focusing on self-love, but sometimes on prosperity or another specific topic. Getting away from my business for just a few minutes helps me get out of my mind and in touch with my intuitive voice.

  91. Next said, on August 12, 2009 at 9:49 am

    2 concept:
    1. change energy wave 2. energy limit

    1. We will feel different state when we are doing sth different.

    categories like: mind, emotion, physical, spiritual, environment (we could have subgroup in each as well : history books and math books are totally different)

    all the friends said above are right.
    they are doing sth that different from what they did, so they could in a different energy wave and let the previous energy engine have a rest.

    most of us today, are doing mind works. so doing sth different in emotion, physical, spiritual, or change your environment would help.
    or doing sth totally crazy would be interesting too.

    The Flow state, I think is because people can constantly discover sth new.

    2. energy limit.

    when we are close to the energy limit we should change the energy wave.
    but if we cross the line of energy limit, we can’t do any thing. and only want to go to sleep. so, plan the energy wave change beforehand.
    And when we are tired we’d better go for it, follow our body. otherwise it will backfire and cost more energy.

  92. Dirk said, on August 17, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Hi Eben, my third and final answer to this, sorry this question got me: I would suggest an exercise out of braingym, which helps synchronising both brain halves again, making us feel “whole” again. i wrote about it in my blog and backlinked to you.

    It goes like this:

    You can stand or sit. Put the right hand across the body to the left knee as you raise it; do the same movement with the left hand on the right knee as if you were marching. Do this for 2-3 minutes. The second good exercise afterwards would be drawing a lying “8″ on an empty piece of paper or at least in your minds eye.

    After those exercises your mental efficiency should have raised a level and you can go back to work energized.
    This exercise comes from Kinesiology.The word Kinesiology literally defined, is derived from the Greek “kinesis” (motion) + the suffix -ology or -logy from the greek “logos” or “logia”(meaning a field of study). So it is the study of motion so to say.
    Kind Regards, Dirk

  93. RJ said, on August 23, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Hey Eben,

    Try this.

    I recently learnt from my Chiropractor the relationship between the spinal cord, neck, and brain. (I won’t go into detail because i simple don’t know but being the superfreak learner that you are, you might want to look into further yourself) 🙂

    Anyway, that being said, there are some great neck exercises you can do to support healthy alignment of that particular area of the spine.

    When your hands aren’t used during a stretch keep both together behind your back, and hold each stretch for 45 secs, returning to the original position after each one.

    First, stand up perfectly straight and balanced, facing forward with your eyes closed, FOCUSING on your breathing throughout.

    Slowly dip you head forward and down so your chin is resting on your chest, stretching the back of your neck. Take one hand and place it behind your head and apply slightly more pressure to the stretch.

    Now, you want to slowly lift from the chin directly upwards. For added stretch (and to make yourself more attractive and really feel good about yourself) you want to really push your lower jaw up towards the ceiling, literally as if you are trying to pull a silly face.

    Next, Tilt your left ear to your left shoulder. Take your left hand, place it at the top of your head and gradually increase the pressure of that stretch.

    Do the same for your right side.

    Finally, from the neutral position, slowly turn and face your left, from the neck, until you feel a slight stretch.

    Do the same for the right side.

    The important thing to remember is definitely the breathing. FOCUS ON THE BREATHING. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Also, NEVER roll your neck and be careful.

    This also leaves you with 30 seconds to actually get up and start the routine, and at the end, to pat yourself on the back for a stretch well done. Well done!

    Btw, i’m a big fan of yours, especially the DYD material. You’re a bit of a legend. Your products, material, and just your whole business ethic offers so much value, but not only that, amazing quality. You move that free line, Eben! lol

    Are you planning anymore DYD Advanced seminars? I’d find it useful to attend. I’m signed up to your newsletter so announce something dude…


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