Two geisha stand in front of a red wooden tori gate at fushimi inari shrine in Kyoto, Japan

Fifteen minute mini-breaks for busy brains

We’ve all been there: head down, working on a long project that requires concentration, creative thinking and problem solving. And then you hit The Wall. Everyone has their limit and you’ve reached yours, the place where suddenly your brain says, ‘no more!’ and everything you do is riddled with errors or worse – you just can’t think at all!

There are plenty of tried and tested actions you can take. In fact, a quick Google will show you millions of ideas to boost your creativity and hit the reset switch on an over-focused brain. Take a walk, collaborate with a colleague, meditate, listen to music, have a nap. But what if these aren’t practical? If you’re unable to leave your desk, are on a critical deadline or have to be mindful of co-workers or family, then how can you temporarily take your brain to a new place? There are some truly exciting, fun and creative places to visit online. Some take you across the globe, others into history, science, art and even space, all through your smartphone, laptop or tablet. It’s a great way to quickly and completely remove yourself from a thorny problem, switch mindset or just enjoy a bit of escapism for fifteen minutes.

Boggle your brain

Mental exercises are simply brilliant fun, no matter when you do them. A quick brain teaser here and there can increase your memory power and stimulate your mind when you have a limited window of opportunity. Hungarian artist Gergely Dudás creates visually delightful, brightly coloured puzzles that contain hidden images, while also dialling up the cuteness levels to 10.

Make space for space

Discover the secrets of the universe with NASA, which has an absolute treasure trove of virtual tours, including a 360º view of the Hubble Space Telescope’s mission operations centre, a guided tour of the International Space Station. However, we cannot be held responsible for any hours lost to the brilliant NASA selfie apps for iOS and Google – fun and educational!

A screenshot of the home page for Canon Connected videos, showing four blocks of content, including ‘how to shoot cinematic video calls with Ivan D’Antonio
A complete change of direction can help you to think more clearly. Taking 15 minutes to learn something new might be just what you need to spark some much-needed creativity.

Pursue knowledge

Want to know how an ultrasound works? Or the history of some of the most enduring works of Japanese art? And how is a rainbow made? Would you believe that all of these subjects can be found at Canon Global’s Video Square, where technology, the environment, culture and fun sit side by side.

Experience the world

Google Arts & Culture is a rabbit hole waiting to happen, but with discipline it’s an almost endless joy. There are over 2000 museums and galleries, theatres and more available to explore online or via the app (iOS and Google Play). Relax, slow down and explore is a gentle combination of music and art from around the world, watch performances at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, or travel the world using street view to visit famous sites and landmarks.

Be inspired to create

Grab your camera and head to Canon Connected for some no-nonsense, zero-frills practical help, advice, tips and inspiration from some of the world’s most respected photographers. While we’re all in lockdown, they are adapting to temporary confinement by inviting fellow photography lovers into their homes to learn.

Get answers to (almost) everything

BBC Ideas is award-winning short content (some are under five minutes long) on everything from amazing animations to inspiring visionaries. You’re bound to find something that’s well worth fifteen minutes of your time and some interesting talking points to share with your colleagues.

Of course, all of these resources can be used anytime – they’re also brilliant activities to dive into as a family. But while they are super fun to enjoy during your work breaks, we cannot stress how important it is to take regular time away from your screen and get moving. Have a stretch, take some time for a healthy snack or assume the lotus position and spend ten minutes in mindfulness. Your health and creativity will thank you for it.

Written by Anna Shaw

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