You Really Do Need to Take a Break for Your Mental Health
I don't like to feel lazy. I understand the importance of taking breaks for mental health reasons, but I tend to push it until the very last moment (read: until my body and mind force me to slow down). Contrary to what I wish were true, it's better to take breaks for mental health more often, even if you don't feel like you need them.
Take a Break for Your Mental Health, Especially if You Don't Think You Need To
Here's how it goes: I'm doing okay. My depression and anxiety feel under control. I feel motivated to branch out and try new things. I actually want to spend quality time with others. Life feels pretty good. So, I pull out all the stops on living. How long will this last before the next panic attack? I have no idea, so I need to take advantage of this. The thought of taking a break to improve my mental health occurs to me for a fleeting moment, but I decide that I don't need one. I feel fine.
And then I crash, hard. Out of nowhere, I'm talking wreckage everywhere. I don't leave my bed for five days. Going to work or school fills me with dread. Plans are canceled.
What went wrong? There wasn't anything in particular that set me over the edge. This is because feeling good can be deceptive.
Take a Break for Your Mental Health
I'm more familiar with this cycle than I'd like to admit, and yet each time, I'm learning an important lesson all over again. The worst inner reaction of all is the whisper in the back of my mind: "I told you so."
The (perhaps unfortunate) truth is that good mental health takes deliberate care. I do believe the process gets easier as you set habits and as you utilize professional tools like therapy or medication, but they don't make up for the work you should do on your own.
And by "work," I mean taking a break. It doesn't have to be very long, but it should happen every day. How you spend your time during your mental health break is up to you. I do something different every day, but the common factor is that it can't be mind-numbing. That's not a break; that's a distraction. So this crosses off social media and, in most cases, watching TV (I say "most cases" because sometimes a quality movie or show can really pull me out of a rut). Be creative: listen to music, make music, call a friend, go for a walk, meditate, or exercise. Find what works for you.
The beauty of daily breaks is that you allow your body and mind to decompress from the daily stress that builds up if it isn't attended to. This stress can be sneaky, as you may acquire it slowly without really noticing. In addition, difficult emotions that you're suppressing tend to come to the surface when you slow down a bit. Taking a regular break is a preventative measure. For me, it's one of the most effective (and easy) mental health practices.
What do you do for your mental health breaks? Share in the comments below.
Clawson, A. (2021, July 15). You Really Do Need to Take a Break for Your Mental Health, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, October 5 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/mentalhealthforthedigitalgeneration/2021/7/you-really-do-need-to-take-a-break-for-your-mental-health
Author: Annabelle Clawson
Now more than ever this is so important. It's so easy for us to get caught up in our to-do lists and schedules, but it's so important to not only make time for ourselves to pause and rest, but to see it as a beneficial and necessary activity - not a luxury. Even if it's just taking 30 minutes to stop and read, or 10 minutes to slowly sip a cup of tea I take breaks throughout the day to train myself for the bigger breaks (think weekends and vacations) and allow myself to truly treat them as such.