In today’s world, taking a mental break has become increasingly important. The world now requires us to be on the go constantly. From the persistent demands of work, family, and errands, the daily grind can cause increased stress and anxiety, leading to burnout and fatigue. Whether you’re unwell, burnt out, or overworked, take some time off to reduce your stress levels.
According to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), one in every five adults has a diagnosable mental health condition. Therefore, prioritizing your mental well-being has become more critical than ever. Taking regular breaks and working with your mental health professional to find better ways to deal with levels of stress can help you live a more fulfilling and healthier life.
What Is a Mental Break?
A mental break is when a person takes a break from their everyday life and duties to rest and recharge. This break time helps individuals recuperate their energy levels and address any mental health challenges they may be dealing with. A mental health break does not have to be very long; taking a little time off during the day helps you connect more with your thoughts and feelings.
Taking mental health breaks can mean different things to different people. For some, engaging in activities such as reading, listening to music, or spending time in nature help them rewind. While for others, activities such as yoga and meditation that uses deep breathing exercises help them relax.
A mental break is essential for maintaining good mental health, reducing stress, and preventing a mental breakdown. A mental breakdown occurs when extreme stress and unhealthy coping mechanisms cause an individual to reach their breaking point. Regular breaks can improve your overall quality of life, increase productivity and job satisfaction, and reduce the risk of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
Signs and Symptoms of Burnout
Burnout is characterized by mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion caused by chronic stress that has not been appropriately managed. It can manifest itself differently from person to person. However, there are a few telltale signs that indicate burnout. Some common signs and symptoms of burnout can include:
- Difficulty focusing
- Increased physical illness and sickness
- Lack of motivation
- Feelings of exhaustion
- Decreased performance at work
- Poor sleep
- Changes in appetite
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Turning to alcohol or drugs to cope
- Withdrawal from society
- Physical symptoms such as stomach aches or headaches
Things to Do Before Your Mental Break
Scheduling and organizing for a mental break allow you to truly relax by avoiding interruptions and distractions during your self-care time. Here are some steps you can take to prepare yourself best:
- Plan – Decide on the duration of your break, activities you would like to do, and any other prior arrangements you need to make, such as booking accommodation away from the city.
- Finish important tasks – This includes informing those at work and finishing up any urgent projects before your break.
- Delegate responsibilities – If you have a current task that you cannot complete before the break, delegate responsibilities to a trusted colleague or team member to handle them while you are gone.
- Inform close friends and family – Letting your close contacts know that you are taking some time off will help avoid any unnecessary stress or emergencies while you are away.
- Plan your self-care activities – Plan activities that will help you relax and rewind, such as spending time with loved ones, engaging in hobbies, or practicing mindfulness. Each individual has limitations, so it’s essential to understand what you are willing to do during this break.
Things to Do During Your Mental Break
During a mental break, the goal is to relax, rewind and focus on healing your mental well-being. A few things you can do during a break include but are not limited to the following:
- Listen to music – Music has proven to be an effective form of stress relief. It can bring you comfort, alleviate your mood and even improve your sleep quality.
- Journaling – This is a great way to keep in touch with your thoughts and feelings. Writing provides you with mental clarity and helps you organize your emotions.
- Meditate – Deep breathing exercises and meditation are effective in lowering stress levels, reducing anxiety, and helping you increase your ability to focus.
- Digital detox – Take this time to reduce your dependency on social media and technology. It can be emotionally exhausting to be constantly glued to your phone, and learning to unwind requires you to concentrate without distraction.
- Read a book – Reading is an age-old form of entertainment and relaxation. It’s known to prevent cognitive decline and helps improve concentration and quality of sleep.
- Art – Any art form, be it painting, sketching, or doodling, is a great way to boost creativity while reducing stress.
While there are several options to choose from, you must pick something that brings you joy and relaxation.
Advantages of Taking a Mental Break
Taking a mental break can have many benefits for both your mental and physical health. Some of the main advantages are:
- Reduce stress
- Improve mental health
- Reduce symptoms of anxiety or depression
- Reduce the risk of falling sick
- Combat burnout
- Enhance sleep quality
- Improve work-life balance
- Encourage creativity
- Improve productivity
Reasons Why a Mental Break Is Important
Not taking a mental break when needed can bring about several negative consequences. While stress is a part of our day-to-day life, prolonged stress can lead to several medical issues. Chronic stress can increase your risk of developing mental disorders such as anxiety or depression. It can also lead to headaches, gastrointestinal problems, and raised blood pressure. When stress becomes extreme, it also increases your chance of having a mental breakdown.
While taking a mental break may seem like a waste of time, it’s important for your overall health and well-being. In today’s fast-paced world, believing we do not have time for ourselves is easy. This is especially true if you are in the midst of a project or have a lot on your plate. However, just taking a few minutes each day to unwind can significantly affect your emotional and physical well-being.
Research shows that taking frequent, short breaks throughout the day raise levels of productivity, improves performance, and helps alleviate exhaustion at the end of the day. It also improves mood and helps individuals maintain a more positive mindset.
The objective of a mental break is to reduce stress and prevent burnout. However, if you are still experiencing symptoms of burnout after a mental break, you must talk to your healthcare provider. These symptoms could also indicate a nervous breakdown or an undiagnosed mental health concern.
If you or someone you love is struggling with chronic stress, a mental health disorder, or a substance use disorder, Turning Point Centers is here for you.
At Turning Point Centers, our multidisciplinary team of highly skilled professionals is ready to provide you with much-needed care. We prioritize helping clients achieve long-term wellness in a safe and comfortable environment.