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In today’s busy world, it’s easy to force yourself to keep going… even when you’re overwhelmed and should probably stop to reset, recharge and re-evaluate. Taking a mental health break is very important, not just to your emotional well-being, but your physical health, as the two can often go hand-in-hand.
In this article, we’ll talk about some of the warning signs of needing a mental health break. We will discuss why doing so matters and offer ways to care for your mental health.
What is a Mental Health Break?
In our society, life and work can get hectic. Many of us juggle multiple responsibilities every single day. Between families, job responsibilities, and routine day-to-day tasks… our to-do lists get ever longer, and action items pile up.
Keeping up with it all can feel challenging. Your life may leave you feeling overworked and spread thin. When this happens, you may just need to take a step back for the sake of your mental health. This is essential because neglecting your mental health can exacerbate anxiety and contribute to depression.
Caring for yourself goes beyond eating a healthy diet and getting enough exercise. You must care for your mind, too. Taking care of your mind may necessitate a mental health break. This is when you take time off to rest, relax, and recuperate.
It may look different depending on your situation. It could mean staying home from school or work for a whole day. Or it could entail taking a week-long vacation without your laptop.
It could even be more subtle — mental health breaks can be short lengths of time, even stepping away for ten minutes. These brief moments allow you to step back and recharge your mental batteries. No matter who you are and what a mental health break looks like for you, it’s an integral part of maintaining happiness and well-being.
World Mental Health Day
We haven’t always known how to talk about mental health in our society. But in the 20th century, the importance of mental health issues started moving further into the light. In 1908, an American man named Clifford Beers published a book that helped propel a “mental hygiene” movement. The National Commission of Mental Hygiene was formed in 1909.
Proponents of the movement were concerned with how people with mental health conditions were treated. Clifford Beers himself had experienced admissions to mental hospitals, and at that time in history, people with mental illness were often treated inhumanely. The mental hygiene movement wanted to change all that.
Fast forward to modern times, where mental health is far better understood. Now, World Mental Health Day occurs every year on October 10th. World Mental Health Day was started in 1992 by the World Federation for Mental Health.
Its goal is to help reduce the stigma around mental health concerns and encourage people around the world to make mental health a priority. Each year has a theme. The slogan for 2022 is, “make mental health and well-being for all a global priority.”
World Mental Health Day is an opportunity to spread awareness about mental health and to support efforts to improve it worldwide. Even though we have come a long way since the early 20th century, there is still work to be done to increase access to mental healthcare.
With World Mental Health Day quickly approaching in October, there’s never been a better time to talk about mental health and why it’s so essential to take mental health breaks. And you don’t need to live with a form of mental illness to need or benefit from mental health breaks — they’re advantageous for anyone.
Why You Should Take Mental Health Breaks
It can be tempting to power through tasks even when you’re feeling exhausted. However, the benefits of slowing down and taking a break cannot be denied.
Mental health breaks help bring clarity to a cluttered mind. They allow you to step back and regroup so you can come back with a fresh perspective. Taking a break helps reduce stress and helps you process and work through difficult feelings.
A mental health day can also be an opportunity to do something that brings you joy, like painting, swimming, or playing music. Mental health breaks provide physical benefits as well. They may result in better sleep quality overall.
Mental breaks help lower stress, which in turn may lower your risk of several chronic diseases. And when you’re more relaxed and refreshed, you may actually be more productive when you get back to work.
So how do you know when you need to take a break? The following are some telltale signs.
7 Warning Signs You May Need a Mental Health Break
You may be used to a fast-paced life, between personal obligations and/or work. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore the warning signs that you need a break. There are a few telltale symptoms that you may be heading towards an unhealthy state.
If you’ve been noticing any of these warning signs in your own life, it’s probably time to take a mental health break.
Warning Sign #1 – You feel restless
When you’re approaching burnout, you may feel restless and unsettled. Your mind may keep going a million miles an hour even when you try to stop moving and relax. Consequently, you could also have trouble focusing on tasks because you just can’t slow down your mind to hone in on them.
Warning Sign #2 – You feel irritable and negative
Being under constant stress may cause you to run low on patience. You might become easily annoyed by small things that other people do. It can be harder to keep your cool and not get angry, even if you can’t pinpoint the source of your frustration. You may just feel generally agitated and lose your temper with those around you.
On top of this, you may start to have a hopeless or negative outlook. If you’re becoming burnt out from overwhelm, it’s much harder to stay positive in the face of adversity.
Warning Sign #3 – You feel low on energy and motivation
Lack of energy is another prominent sign that you need a mental health break. You may find it hard to stay motivated to get things done, even things you typically enjoy.
You may just be completing work or other tasks because you have to, not because you want to. Furthermore, you might not have the energy to perform self-care like you usually would.
Warning Sign #4 – Your relationships feel strained
Unfortunately, your relationships can suffer if you are close to a mental breaking point. You may feel disconnected from those closest to you when you’re burning the candle at both ends.
Working yourself to the point of exhaustion can leave you feeling irritable, lonely, and hollowed out. Not to mention that if your feelings of being overwhelmed are driven by long work hours, your relationships may end up being neglected.
Warning Sign #5 – Your physical health is wearing down
The mind and the body are very connected. So, you might notice your physical health suffering if you’re under intense mental strain for too long. For example, you may be getting sick often.
This may be due to high stress levels, which can negatively impact your immune system function. It also can increase your risk of diseases like cardiovascular disease.
Warning Sign #6 – Your eating habits have changed
If you’re in need of a mental health break, you may find yourself eating more or less than you usually do. Some people may have an urge to snack all the time, even when they’re full.
Other people may forget to eat altogether, skipping meals and running on overdrive. Whatever the case, changes in your eating can be a sign of needing a mental health break.
Warning Sign #7 – Lack of interest in things
Lastly, your stress levels may cause you to lose interest in things you normally enjoy. You may not have the energy to socialize or engage in favorite hobbies. You may become numb and disinterested in these activities.
Ways for You to Take a Mental Health Break
The good news is that there are many accessible ways to take a mental health break.
It doesn’t have to be time-consuming or complicated. A mental health break may mean stepping outside for ten minutes at work to practice deep breathing. Or, it could be as simple as trying out some adult coloring pages at lunchtime or bedtime to calm your mind.
You could also take a longer mental health break. You could take a sick day off of work or school to decrease stress. A mental health day gives you the space you need to process your emotions and look at the big picture of your life.
Taking a mental health day allows you to come back with a fresh perspective. If you’re able to take a week-long vacation, it can do wonders for your mental health.
Meditation is another great way to rest your mind. When meditating, you have the freedom to sit and do nothing except breathe and enjoy the moment. Over time, a meditation practice can help you stay calm during adversity and avoid overthinking.
Meditation is a powerful tool to stimulate creativity, and it can help you be more productive overall. It also has many surprising physical benefits, such as reducing stress and anxiety and even leading to better sleep quality.
Meditating regularly gives you greater resilience and mental clarity, making it a wonderful way to take a mental health break. Even five or ten minutes of meditation is beneficial.
Practicing yoga is another great way to take care of both your body and mind. Yoga can look like gently stretching your body and building strength through the poses. But your mat can also become a safe, quiet space to come back to yourself and dwell fully in the present moment.
If you’re only able to take a short mental health break at work, breathing exercises can help you focus in and get grounded. Other helpful grounding techniques could include walking barefoot on the earth, listening to music, or spending time with a precious pet. Grounding yourself helps to ease a restless mind and soothe anxiety.
The Potential Risks of Not Making Time for Your Mental Health
Undoubtedly, caring for your mental health is vital. If you are experiencing warning signs that you may need a mental health break, don’t ignore them. Not addressing these warning signs could lead to burnout and health problems.
Not only that, but chronic stress can cause depression to develop or worsen. Additionally, stress contributes to many chronic physical ailments. If you don’t take mental health breaks when you need them, your relationships may also suffer. You could become withdrawn and lack the energy to be fully present for yourself or your loved ones.
Furthermore, burnout and stress can negatively impact your career and financial well-being if left untreated. Taking care of your mind is just as important as taking care of your body. If you feel overwhelmed, now is the best time to give your mental health the love and attention it needs.
Final Thoughts on Taking a Mental Health Break
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, or burned out – you’re not alone. It’s normal to go through times in your life that are more stressful than others. But if you’re starting to feel crushed by the weight of it all, it may be time to take a mental health break.
If you’re still struggling after taking a mental health break, it could be a sign of a deeper issue such as depression. So, if you’re having a hard time, don’t hesitate to speak to a therapist or someone you trust if you need more support. The sooner you seek help, the better off you will be as you move along the road to recovery.