At times when I'm frustrated and stuck on a story, or my mind's been runnin' a hundred miles an hour for days on end, I know that I need give my mind a break. This is not the time to do a puzzle, read a mystery, or try to sort through the filing cabinet. No, it's a time to do something that will let my brain rest, let it meander naturally rather than force it down a path ridden with roadblocks. A time to do something that doesn't require the use of a million worn-out brain cells.
I pick something with a lot of mindless repetition, such as vacuuming or picking up a crochet project. Once I set into the rhythm of what I'm doing, my mind is free to roam, unharnessed. As a writer, this works beautifully for me because solutions to long stressed-over problems in stories will often just mosey on into my brain.
Here are some activities that I use as mini-vacations for my brain:
Crocheting, but only an existing project. Starting a new one uses too many brain cells.
Walking on the treadmill.
Soaking in the tub. No rhythm here, but somehow it still works. Go figure.
Vacuuming. For some reason, other types of cleaning don't do it for me.
Pulling weeds or trimming the roses.
Walking around my favorite store.
I'm sure there are more that I'm forgetting, and possibly even more yet to be discovered. How do you give your brain a vacation?